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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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UNDERSTANDING TECHNOLOGY

Just as an architect understands the properties of the construction materials used to build a house and an artist understands the qualities of paint and color, you need a fundamental comprehension of how web sites are put together. You may not be a programmer, nor aspire to become one. Still, it's critical to understand the basic capabilities and limitations of web technologies. The underlying technology of the site will constrain or enable the types of navigation solutions you can come up with.

For example, you may intend to support re-finding in your navigation system with features like saved items and favorites lists. However, if your site doesn't have the ability to set up user profiles and store account information, this may not be technically possible. Suggesting products via collaborative filtering in an adaptive navigation mechanism is convenient for the user, but the process is not simple to implement—the site technology may not even support such an option.

During the Analysis phase, there are three levels of technology to consider:

  • Platforms

  • Back-end technologies

  • Front-end technologies

PLATFORM

With ubiquitous computing on the rise, organizations often don't want to limit themselves to delivery on just one "information appliance." The web site content and navigation system you design might eventually be destined for reuse on a mobile device, for interactive TV, or even on a refrigerator with a computer display. Find out what devices your design will ultimately ...

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