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CHI-WEB  August 2000, Week 3

CHI-WEB August 2000, Week 3

Subject:

Re: intranets

From:

Andrew Hinton <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Andrew Hinton <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 21 Aug 2000 09:11:10 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (59 lines)

Andrew McNaughton wrote:

> From: Andrew McNaughton <[log in to unmask]>
> Is it important that a user have a feel for 'the layout' of the site
> information?  Perhaps it is enough that a user have a feel for the scope
> of it, and the process by which any given resource can be reached?  Is the
> users need to know 'where' they are within a site an artifact of an
> excessively rigid navigational model whose linking structure is
> impoverished by being trimmed to fit a hierarchical model?  Can
> alternatives be found without overwhelming the user with too many options

Again, this is one of those case-by-case situations. Whereas I'm sure some
sites can probably afford to be more abstract about their sense of place
(especially for more advanced users who just want to hit a search page and
be done with it, for example), I'm convinced that a website is perceived by
its visitors to be a "place" and therefore much of what is found there
should be associated with each area.

Global navigation usually allows hierarchical browsing according to the
typical library-like model, but supplementary navigational structures &
methods allow for more context-driven linking. Various methods for
navigating the site work together to provide things like serendipity and
related-content awareness.

Not to bring Yahoo up yet again, but here it is as an example (yet again):
Lots of hierarchical browsing by category available from that very first
page, especially useful for a new user. But the 'search' box and other quick
links to information are the methods most of us more experienced users
probably use now.

Even our computer operating systems reflect this wisdom: I have no idea what
physical parts of my hard drive actually hold a particular file from day to
day, but I know what 'directory' or 'folder' that file is in, even though
that is, in a sense, a fiction created for ease-of-use. I can, however,
create shortcuts or aliases to the file in other directories. It's not a
"COPY" of the file and doesn't even pretend to be (it has useful indicators
telling me "this isn't the real file but it'll behave that way when you use
it" like italics or an overlay graphic). The computer could just as easily
pretend that the file is actually IN both places, but that'd be confusing,
and would break the metaphor that allows the OS to be so usable.

Even though web documents don't necessarily "really" live in the areas into
which they are perceived to be stored, I do think it's important to give
people the perception--at least at the very top presentation layer--that
there is some sense of place and order. The beauty of the web is that we can
provide them a kind of context-sensitive teleportation device to jump from
one room to another :)

-
:  s  y  m  e  t  r  i  :

|  andrew hinton :: [log in to unmask] | My cow is not pretty,
|  336.819.6914  :: voice               | but it's pretty to me.
|  435.404.5231  :: fax                 | -- David Lynch

   ---------------------------------------------------------
   About CHI-WEB: http://www.acm.org/sigchi/web/chi-web.html
   ---------------------------------------------------------

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