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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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Chapter 13. Navigation and Rich Web Applicatios

"No matter what the subject be, there is only one course for the beginner; he must at first accept a discipline imposed from without, but only as the means of obtaining freedom for, and strengthening himself in, his own method of expression."

Igor Stravinsky

Consider for a moment the difference between surfing the web and using a program native to your computer, such as a word processor. At the heart of web navigation is the hyperlink, which connects pages by URL addresses. The interaction involved is fairly straightforward: clicking a link sends a request to a server at the corresponding address. After the requested files are returned, a browser renders a static page, which may contain more links leading to more web pages.

With desktop programs, you typically access files you've created that are stored locally on your computer. Clicking menu options such as Paste or Save doesn't take you to another document via a link, but instead performs an action. Sure, there is help text and you can link documents together, but for the most part, software navigation is about editing, saving, and manipulating text, graphics, or a file in some way. Compared to web navigation, this type of interaction is more dynamic, and it introduces the concepts of behavior and functionality.

But as new web technologies evolve, designers can increasingly simulate the type of interaction found in desktop software online. Consequently, the Web is becoming more and ...

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