Link your documents ]
Once you've moved your content into the appropriate folders it's time
to start. The Site Map should help in defining some of the more obvious
links, and you can place simple text into your documents as necessary
to allow navigation through the map. This step tests the Site Map concepts
and allows you to share your vision with others. If you skip this step
and move directly to linking finished graphical elements, the time-cost
of making a change in the map and redoing the links can rise dramatically.
Keep it simple and prove your basic design. I'll list some considerations
I think are worth keeping in mind.
- Always provide an easy route to the home page and consider linking
back to originating pages. This may force some better levels of organization
and will be a better navigational aid to the user than an extra fancy,
custom coloured, drop-shadowed arrow (more on that in the Graphical
Design section following).
- Don't overuse cross-links between disparate informational areas. You
don't have to put a link on each keyword you run across. Sometimes a
description of where the information is with respect to the homepage
(or some common point on the map closer to home) will allow the user
to navigate back the way they came and follow that new branch. (For
Example: Dave's discussion of flower arrangements may mention a particular
rose he sells. He could link this mention to his flowers: roses: short:
yellow: smallbouquet.html page thereby confusing the user about where
they are and how they got there) or he could follow the mention with
a description (or side-note) of how to reach the page: e.g. "Have
a look at the small roses we carry by following the Flowers
link on our home page". This may work better if the link is proposed
as an aside or as possible additional information. If the link points
to information that is likely the direct continuation of a given idea
on the page, then a direct link is still appropriate.
- Try and avoid opening new windows except where the link goes off-site.
The new window has no "back" history, can confuse some users,
and probably points out a flaw in the way you've organized your site.
- Then I'll use frames! If the intent of the frames design is to circumvent
the last suggestion don't do it. Consider carefully why the use of frames
is justified and even if it is justified, build the links without frames
(we're still text-only here) to prove the concept.
- Don't spend time on style sheets, precise table layouts, font selections
or other things which may be affected by the graphical design stages.
The content and intuitive, logical movement through related areas is
the whole point here.
All text and images unless otherwise indicated are Copyright © 1999 - 2001 by Studio Braun.