The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: March, 4th 1999

Words of a Disgruntled Surfer

By: Ben Goodger

Over the past few months I have noticed a disturbing trend in webpage design is counter-intuitive navigation design. This is largely due to the structuring sites into subsections that seems to be popular recently. While it is good to have an organized site structure, this shouldn’t come at the cost of clunky navigation.

This trend generally involves fragmentation of the sites’ pages into groups, such as "Information", "Activities", "Misc" etc. To access the pages in each of these categories involves a trip to a subsection index page, which contains graphics and links to each sub-page. While this does provide a structured site, it also infuriates those wanting quick access to the material presented by the page.

Imagine a hypothetical site. Featuring a less contemporary "splash" screen, and the aforementioned navigation system, it presents visitors with at least three tiers of pages to travel through before content is reached. Some pages further fragment their material – splitting information into further subcategories which makes getting to any real content a matter of clicking and waiting for gaudy indices to load. Thankfully many sites have nixed the splash screen (my loathing of which is a rant in itself), but still the clunky navigation remains.

I’ll be succinct: All important pages should be within a click from your main page. So if your information pages are your main attraction, don’t hide them in backwaters of subsection indices.

Some sites come close to providing decent navigation, but they shoot themselves in the feet by not doing it properly. En vogue it seems is listing the contents of each subsection next to its header on the main page, e.g.:

    Info >> Character Info, Season Info, Japanese Name Guide etc etc etc
All pages who use this will make the "Info" word a link to the subsection index. Why not ditch the subsection index altogether and make each of the list items following info a direct link to the page? It makes getting to material much faster and more pleasant. Since I don’t really "recreational" surf SM pages, I’m normally going to them to look for something in particular – I don’t want to wade through page after page.

As I said in a recent Lemure, some trends are fine to copy, as long as you understand why they’re being used, and use them to their advantage, not just copy them for the sake of being trendy. Each page of your site should provide easy transport to others, if not each individual page, to each individual section. Clicking through some SM pages around the web today is much like having to wade through a myriad of menus and dialog boxes to perform an action in a piece of software…

Comments on this article can be sent to: Ben Goodger.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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