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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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INFORMATION STRUCTURES

The information structure refers the plan or map of pages in your site. It is the skeleton of the site that you'll be filling out with page layouts and final designs, discussed in the following two chapters. As you investigate how to construct the navigation, keep the different types of structure in mind, including:

  • Linear structures

  • Webs

  • Hierarchies

  • Facets

  • Emergent structures

Of course, hybrids of these are not only possible, but common. A web navigation system may make use of any or all of these basic structures simultaneously.

LINEAR STRUCTURES

A simple linear structure

Figure 8-5. A simple linear structure

In a simple linear structure, pages are arranged in a sequence, as shown in Figure 8-5. Linear structures occur when people can't get to one page without having first seen a previous page. A site search is an example of a natural linear structure: you can't see a results page without entering a search on the search form. Wizards and online tests are other common examples of linear structures.

Or consider Figure 8-6. This is the second step in setting up an account on Apple's .Mac service. To get here, visitors must first enter their personal details. These are validated by the system for format. On this screen, credit card details must be entered before proceeding to the third and final step. A simple Continue button moves the user through this structure one step at a time.

Figure 8-6. A ...

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