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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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PAGE TEMPLATES

When dealing with large web sites, it's quite impossible to hand-design the layout of thousands of pages, nor is this desirable. Instead, rules are put in place to govern the display of navigation and content. These rules are captured in what are called page templates.

Templates are predefined collections and arrangements of navigation mechanisms. Note that two or more mechanisms may come together to form a larger navigational module. For instance, the global navigation area may consist of a linked logo, the main navigation tabs, and utility links. Within the template scheme, this may be represented as a single element, rather than three separate mechanisms. Your template design can then refer to the global navigation module as a single unit rather than three separate mechanisms.

A template-based approach is important for consistency: it ensures that a related links module, for instance, will always appear the same way across pages of the site. Templates also allow for reuse of modules, facilitating implementation. It may not be necessary to redesign and reprogram common modules, but instead you can use them again as needed. This approach requires a modular concept to the layout: you must be able to abstract navigation rules across pages.

NAVIGATION RULES

Navigation design for large sites is really about creating a formula for which navigation options appear on pages. It is a mapping of navigation mechanisms, types, and modules to form the overall navigation system. In ...

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