Re: Navigational paradigms in very large hypertexts?

Subject: Re: Navigational paradigms in very large hypertexts?
From: "David M. Brown" <dmbrown -at- BROWN-INC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 14:46:47 -0700

Howard Peirce wrote:
> Our current documentation (shipped in HTML) uses a "library of books"
> navigational paradigm. At the front end, the user chooses one of roughly
> 40 "books," and navigates primarily by means of a java-based
> hierarchical TOC. All the "books" are identically formatted, and
> consistency of look and feel is considered very important.

I think you can vary presentation in precisely the way you described, and still stay with a hierarchical arrangement of your information. You maintain consistency by treating similar elements--procedures, overview, and so on--similarly across the entire work. You could add another layer of variety and consistency by applying sightly different visual treatments to different product segments, for example.

Consistent terminology is probably more important than a consistent "look."

Some other things that will help your readers keep their sense of place in your new document system:

* A self-updating TOC that always shows "you are here"

* A well-formed, comprehensive index--perhaps even multiple indexes
(by product segment, topic type, or both) under a master index

* Related topics lists

* Browse sequences (used judiciously)


David M. Brown - Brown Inc.
dmbrown -at- brown-inc -dot- com

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