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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.

Next: Graphical Design

 

 

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