User Context and Navigation in Articles
Chad Lundgren’s latest entry got me thinking about user context and navigation within articles. The Ready.gov page is a great example of what not to do, (If there aren’t any more pages, don’t even show the word “next.”) but what about good examples? Let’s take a look at several common variations on showing user context.
I really like the way Wired shows context. It concisely shows the total number of pages, what page you’re on and where you can go. At the most, you’ll only have two navigation choices within an article: previous and next. (Click on the images for examples.)
Boxes and Arrows also uses previous and next links, but they show the total number of pages by linking to them all. I don’t like this method as much because I rarely have a use for going straight to a specific page number. I can go straight to page three of the article, but what will I find there? On the other hand, I can see it being helpful when I’m sharing the article with someone. For example, “It’s somewhere around the middle of page three.”
iView shows what can happen when the Boxes and Arrows method is taken to the extreme, but without using previous and next links. I don’t like this example for two reasons. First, as mentioned above, I can go to any point within this article, but why would I if I don’t know what I’ll find there? Secondly, not using next and previous links within the article navigation makes navigating to the next or previous page needlessly difficult.
Update: After posting this, I remembered that the iView article does have a next link at the bottom of the page. In this entry, I’m only referring to their main article navigation at the top of each page, as shown in the following image.
- What are some other examples of user context and navigation in articles?
- Does HTML limit our ability to show context with navigation effectively?
- Can anyone point to some innovative Flash examples?
- Has any research been done in this area?