In recent years, a number of approaches to improve the overall navigability of web-based information systems have been introduced – breadcrumbs and automatic linking algorithms represent two exemplary approaches. While evaluation of such approaches is a complex and multidimensional endeavor, involving cognitive, user-interface and other issues, the objective of this paper are more modest. In this paper, we aim to evaluate the effectiveness of different navigational aids for web information systems from a networktheoretic perspective. The main idea of this paper is to use decentralized search as a mechanism to evaluate navigational effectiveness. In our experiments on the largest Austrian online encyclopedia Austria-Forum, we compared the usefulness of two existing approaches to linking, i.e. breadcrumbs and automatic linking. Our results suggest that different navigational aids differ significantly with regard to their potential to support efficient navigation. The main contribution of this paper is a simulation-based framework that enriches the repertoire of tools for web engineers who are aiming to evaluate and improve navigability of web information systems. The framework allows engineers to assess a potential usefulness of various navigational tools even before expensive development or user studies are carried out
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