Navigating a web site contains the 4 main components that also make up navigating the physical world:
Paths- In the physical world paths is the term given the route taken by the person in getting from one position to another. Much like this, it is important to create “virtual paths” within web pages and websites that can guide users and show them where they are in relation to the entire website.
Regions- In the real world, most geographical locations are marked by unique regions with different styles and designs that can help a person navigate. Similarly, websites should ensure that webpages with different topics or webpages with different ideas can be easily differentiated by a user so that they can navigate through different parts of a website with ease.
Nodes- Generally, a term used to describe meeting places or intersections, in the virtual world nodes refer to the choices a user has in the website and the ideal website would give enough choices but not bombard the user with too many.
Landmarks- As the name suggests land marks are literally something that marks a location. Virtual landmarks dictate the search terms and can help the end user easily navigate to different locations of a website directly.
First and foremost, users should be able to know at all times where they are and to achieve this, the website must contain clear, consistent icons, graphics, headings and page titles. Furthermore, simplicity is your best friend so keep the design of your different webpages simple and consistent. Users want to get to the information they want as quick as possible, so ensure that search links take users to the page they need immediately (avoiding other landmarks along the way). However, ensure that all pages within the website have a link that can help the user get back to the home page, thus preventing the user from being locked out of the rest of the website. Keep the website updated by ensuring all the links are functioning and do not overload the user with a large amount of gratuitous design elements (A good example of a simple yet functional webpage is google’s search page).
Gestalt theory is the idea of how the human brain combines different things to make a whole that is cannot be created without all the parts. Our brain visualizes a “modular unit” as the book states and groups pieces of similar looking elements together. When used correctly this can help a user easily identify different groups of information in a webpage.
Flexible page widths are recommended as these would help users from different devices, with different screen sizes have similar experiences. Fixed page widths are easy to build and maintain, but break apart when the user needs to zoom or look closely destroying the user-friendliness of the webpage. Moreover, generally smaller line lengths of about 12 words is recommended as it makes reading a easy task for the user. However, universal usability can be used to ensure that the page can adapt when the user narrows the browsing window. Generally, home pages, documents to be read online or pages with large graphics should be in shorter web pages. On the other hand, longer web pages are easier to maintain and easier for users to download. If longer webpages are used ensure that the user always a reference point that can help the user figure where they are in the webpage. Moreover, give many links to other parts of thee page to help navigate a long webpage. Page headers should contain a large heading that can immediately tell the user the website and purpose of the site. While footers should be used as well in all webpages to convey age and origin of the page. Hierarchy and contrast must be used to effectively guide the user through the webpage from one important point to another.
The awkwardness of the scrolling page makes it more difficult for an user to read on a computer.
The inverted pyramid places the important information at the beginning of the webpage which allows for users to easily get to the main information quickly. Moreover, this information also sets the tone for the rest of the information allowing the user to keep up with the rest of data. Furthermore, by placing key words and facts at the head of the page, the webpage can be more easily discovered by search engines.
The website for the book adheres to the recommendations Lynch and Horton give. Each webpage has an easily identifiable heading with many sub-headings that help the reader easily scan for the information they need. Moreover, they make use of many links within their paragraphs to reinforce their ideas. One such example is the link they provided to a Wikipedia article for the “Inverted Pyramid”. The authors also frontload their content by giving the reader a short summary, at the beginning of a webpage, of what to expect in the page allowing the reader to get an idea of the information the webpage wants to communicate. They often use bullet points instead of long paragraphs, allowing many entry-points for readers to get into the information. Finally, the webpages all contain information in easily distinguishable groups or modules that help readers know where a specific type of information ends and another begins.