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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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NAVIGATING RICH WEB APPLICATIONS

Most web users have developed a mental model of how navigation works:

  • Navigating information is primarily done by clicking links.

  • Clicking on a link brings up a new page.

  • The back button returns to the previous screen.

  • Each page has its own URL that can be linked to or bookmarked.

In emulating desktop applications, however, rich web applications introduce some twists into these basic assumptions and challenge the very model of the web as a hypertext system. With rich web applications, there may not be a transition to a new page with each action, screens may not have their own URL, the back button may erase a previous transaction, and interacting with information is more dynamic than a simple click of link. The next sections take a detailed look at these differences.

PAGE TRANSITIONS AND RELOADS

A key aspect of rich web applications is that they shift some of the processing of information from the server to the client, or local computer. This important technical difference changes the resulting web experience dramatically. Technically, there are two basic ways in which rich web applications circumvent the process of having to reload pages with each click. They either:

Load the data all at once

Some web applications simply load all the necessary information needed to interact with application to the user's browser at once. Filtering, sorting, and manipulating data then doesn't require a page reload. This is how the filters in the Ford showroom works in

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