Re: xref vs link

Subject: Re: xref vs link
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 16:59:36 -0700

I try to apply the same design criteria I use for Winhelp to help
systems in HTML. Several good design books are available.

(DISCLAIMER: Obviously, some pages, such as contents, or
hierarchies, are intended to contain lots of links. This response
refers to descriptive, procedural, and conceptual topics.)

In the body text of a Winhelp topic, I restrict links to popups.
And, I avoid links from popups to other topics. That way the user
can jump and return without losing continuity.

Links to long topics (things that force the user away from the topic
for more than a definition) I list at the bottom of the topic as
'Related Topics." That way, jumping around doesn't break the user's
flow. They can finish the topic before moving on.

I am currently converting our Winhelp to HTML. Topics that were
popups are converted as separate html pages. I don't care for this,
because the user is pulled away from the topic. Even though they can
use the 'back' button to return, I'm not sure most users will. I'm
considering other ways to handle this so these topics have more of a
popup appearance, but haven't settled on a method yet (suggestions
welcomed) Ideally, I want to find an easy way to do this within
Forehelp before I generate the HTML pages--without Java or ActiveX.

Bottom line: Whether it's HTML or Winhelp, I try to consider
whether each link is a useful supplement or a confusing detour.

Good luck,
Jill Burgchardt

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