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Accessibility and Usability Forum

Philosphical question: "direction" in time/navigation?
Navigation arrows point -- but which way is standard?

 1:07 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've got a series of guestbook pages; each page a single year. I am using a menu on top and bottom of each page -- that is, when someone, reading sequentially "down" the 2006 page, reaches the bottom, he is offered four choices: (forward in time to) the 2007 page, ("up" to) guestbook index, ("up" to) the home page, and (backward in time to)the 2005 page. Like this:

<- 2007 ----- ^ guestbook index --- home page ^ --- 2005 ->

The 2008 page, of course, is slightly different, as there is no "forward in time":

<- guestbook index --- ^ home page ^ --- 2007 ->

The center tabs have (graphical) "up" arrows and the left-tab has a left-ward pointing arrow; the right-hand tab has a rightward-pointing arrow.

This, to me, seems normal, and the directionality of the tabs seems conventional on the web and in my brain.

My client insists that it's the other way round: he says right is "forward"; he wants the right arrow to go to the following year:

<- 2005 ----- ^ guestbook index --- home page ^ --- 2007 ->

Any consensus? And direction (to me, not in time! {wink})?




 1:24 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, SnowTao.

More often than not you will see last year to the left, next year to the right. Your client is correct.


 1:33 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, forwards is always to the right. Is your native language one which is often written right-to-left (e.g. arabic)?


 1:53 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Think timeline (charts, texts etc). Left is before, Right is comes next.


 3:31 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Any consensus? And direction (to me, not in time! {wink})?

I think this is a great question for the Accessibility and Usability [webmasterworld.com] forum.

Basically, what counts as "consensus" usually reflects cultural norms - so I concur with vincevincevince raising the issue of whether this relates to dealing with conventions about reading left to right or right to left.

What you do should reflect the site purpose, function and target market. If the purpose is narrow, the target market specific, (and especially if the site material is written in a country/region-specific human language) then aply the conventions of that target market.

If the site has a broad purpose, the target market international, then think "internationalise" and use the convention "most" likely to be the norm for "most" of your visitors.


 2:29 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wow. No, I'm born and bred reading left to right, and even driving on the right side of the road (right v. left, not right v. wrong; no offense to any Brits). I guess I just navigate differently on the web... We do have a world-wide audience, but he lectures in English, so I guess I'll re-orient myself (and his webpages!) in time. Thanks y'all! And thanks for the welcomes and quick responses.



 9:47 am on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

I will make an amend to my earlier comment. Not as regards left/right, but top/bottom. I show the newest material first, oldest material last. If your nav was set up:

2007 guestbook
2005 home

This also suggests "direction" (assuming current page is 2006)


 2:33 pm on Sep 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

One thing, never assume that people will understand arrows without adjacent text labels. I set up a photo gallery once with arrows only linking within topic and text links to the start of the next topic. Most people just skipped from picture 1 of topic A to picture 1 of topic B to picture 1 of topic C.


 11:04 am on Sep 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Is there another link to jump to the first and last record from any and all of the intermediate pages?

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