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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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VISUALIZING NAVIGATION

Beyond traditional tabs, bars, and menus lies a category of mechanisms that use information visualization.

The standard definition of information visualization is: "The use of computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of abstract data to amplify cognition."[50] The common vision in this field is to represent information in spatial or visual relationships to make complex data sets clear and understandable. More importantly, these representations are interactive. Information visualization is about manipulating and navigating information, not just about how it is displayed.

Information visualization doesn't aim to replace textual displays of information. Visual representations and plain text complement each other. For instance, text doesn't scale up well. Displaying thousands of items as text can't be done on a single computer screen. Information visualization techniques, on the other hand, provide views into information on different levels. Patterns of millions of items can be shown in a chart or graph of some kind. People can then zoom in or out for more or less detail.

Visualization mechanisms tend to have limited use and should be reserved for special situations. General web users may not be accustomed to them. But, as research in information visualization mechanisms continues, their application may become more widespread. Three common mechanisms are star trees, visual thesauri, and visual clusters.

STAR TREES

Also called a radial tree layout, a ...

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