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Cross linked sections
maintaining continuity for each reader
tedster




msg:591385
 1:19 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've just been handed a bit of a challenge from one of my clients. They just developed about 100 pages of content for a new section of their website. The challenge comes because this new section uses several other sections of the site, not just as references, but as integral parts.

In other words, if a visitor comes to the new section (it's a software description and demo) they will find a nice hierarchically structured area to navigate. But if they read through the material in sequence, all of a sudden the "next" page is off in a completely different area of the site. Then they return. This process is written into the material several times.

This seems like a bad idea to me -- the reader would go to a page where all the location cues are different. This is potentially very disorienting. And the navigation to return from the separate section would also confuse the visitor who originally came to that section, and not the software demo.

But the alternative seems like building duplicate pages, one for each section. That's something I'm not comfortable with.

I'd appreciate any input. Has anyone ever wrestled with this kind of issue?

 

rcjordan




msg:591386
 1:32 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yes, I've purposely used it to lead a visitor into discovering new sections of the site to explore... but this is a deep content site and one of the things I try and impress upon my readers is that they are always at the tip of the iceberg. I do not like it at all for the site you are describing.

>And the navigation to return from the separate section would also confuse the visitor who originally came to that section

This is a perfect place for a pop-up and a close window button, or a back button at the very least.

rcjordan




msg:591387
 1:46 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

<added>

>alternative seems like building duplicate pages, one for each section. That's something I'm not comfortable with.

Lately, I've been giving a lot of thought to how co-branded pages are produced and a variation of that might work here, Tedster. What if you used SSI to inject the same content into the different page containers? The page would keep its unigue navigation but the content would only be maintained in one place.

tedster




msg:591388
 2:04 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the back button idea, rc. I didn't think of it, and I'm pretty sure it will be part of the solution.

Thinking a little harder about this, each "excursion" to a different area will need different handling. I was stuck "in a box" looking for a one size fits all.

So a little cross linking in someplaces, one use of SSI perhaps, and a back button or two.

Thank goodness this is the client with a "testing" group. I can hand the test version over to them for usability comments before going live with it.

minnapple




msg:591389
 2:31 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

>But the alternative seems like building duplicate pages, one for each section. That's something I'm not comfortable with.

A duplicate page with a paragraph or a sentence from the referring page at the beginning may offer the reader a tie in to the preceding thought and would allow for the insertion of a simple back button. The resulting page would not be entirely a duplicate to the SE's.

tedster




msg:591390
 3:50 am on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks minnapple -- that's an intriguing idea. I could also use the introductory material at the top of the page to point the other remote section of the site with the same article and other similar materials.

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