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> Makes sense to me. That's the sort of thing we try to do with
> image maps and tables of contents, but those tools seem relatively
> static and uninteresting. Anyone else want to pick up the thread
> and explore it? Sample topics to get the ball rolling:
> - what are the main failures of hyperlinks, and how could
> understanding the underlying "map relationship" improve our
Whenever I design an online help system, I tend to use the same basic
structure. I do everything I can to kreskin what the user wants, and make
that the first thing the users see when they ask for help. This usually
means that my top-level information is basic tutorial stuff. Clean, concise,
"Press this, enter this, and you're done" stuff. From there, I'll provide
links to overview information, technical information, and any other related
procedures. Words and basic concepts that need to be defined link to popups
or secondary frames so the user can see the definition without leaving the
Depending on the topic, the information chunks may or may not have a linear
relationship to one another. If they do, I'll supply a TOC, and included
back and forward buttons within the topics. If not, I just supply an index.
> - what is the difference between a hyperlink that simply jumps you
> to another position, vs. one that expresses a relationship?
Well, you can't really have a hyperlink that doesn't express some
relationship, even if it's only "This comes next." A well-designed hypertext
system should have fairly clear relationships among any links, and these
relationships should be geared toward what the users want to know at any
given point in your system. No, you'll never get this exactly right for
everyone, but you can get close.
> - are image maps better at showing relationships than text links?
Certain images are universal enough that you could probably use them, but
for the most part, no. I'll generally, on navigation buttons, include arrows
along with the text "back" and "forward," but I avoid representing anything
with just a picture. They're generally not as intuitive as we'd like, and
regardless, they require extra work on the user's part to translate them to