You are on page 1of 24

Searching System

A Search System lets users search for specific content on your site. You can search both for users and for particular words. When you are on the "content" tab of Search, you will be able to search for words appearing by default rendering content on your site. When you are on the "users" tab of Search, you will be able to search the user names of registered users on your site, and if you have sufficient permissions, also their email addresses. In Content search, if you enter more than one search term the search module will loo for content that has all the terms you!ve entered. If instead you want either one term or another, "oin your terms with "or." If you!re loo ing for an e#act phrase, enclose it in $uotation mar s. With Advanced Search you can also loo for "any of these words" or "this phrase," or both, you can rule out words you don!t want, and you can choose content types within which to confine your search

Searching Web-Site Importance of Search Search helps when you have too much information to browse When there is large pool of data, that hierarchy becomes cumbersome to handle so the search option is better than browsing through large nested menus. Search helps fragmented sites %usinesses have large content that ma e up so many intranets and large public sites. As is so often the case, each business unit has gone ahead and done its own thing, developing content hapha&ardly with few standards, and probably no metadata to support any sort of reasonable browsing.

Search is a learning tool 'hrough search(log analysis, you can gather useful data on what users actually want from your site, and how they articulate their needs. )ver time you can analy&e this valuable data to diagnose and tune your site!s search system, other aspects of its information architecture, the performance of its content, and many other areas as well. Search should be there because users expect it to be there *sers won!t always be willing to browse through your site!s structure+ their time is limited. Search can tame dynamism You should also consider creating a search system for your site if it contains highly dynamic content. ,or e#ample, if your site is a web(based newspaper, you might be adding do&ens of story files daily via a commercial news feed or some other form of content syndication. Enabling Search Query Builders Query builders are tools that can soup up a $uery!s performance. 'hey are often invisible to users, who may not understand their value or how to use them. Common e#amples include Spell-checkers 'hese allow users to misspell terms and still retrieve the right results by automatically correcting search terms. ,or e#ample, "accomodation" would be treated as "accommodation," ensuring retrieval of results that contain the correct term. Phonetic tools .honetic tools are especially useful when searching for a name. 'hey can e#pand a $uery on "Smith" to include results with the term "Smyth." Stemming tools Stemming tools allow users to enter a term /e.g., "lodge"0 and retrieve documents that contain variant terms with the same stem /e.g., "lodging", "lodger"0. Natural language processing tools 'hese can e#amine the syntactic nature of a $uery. ,or e#ample, is it a "how to" $uestion or a "who is" $uestion and use that nowledge to narrow retrieval.

Controlled vocabularies 'hese tools e#pand the semantic nature of a $uery by automatically including synonyms within the $uery. Pattern-Matching Algorithms A Pattern-Matching algorithm, broadly spea ing, is an algorithm for finding an item with specified pattern among a collection of items . .atterns Can be matched in 1 ways1 ( !ecall "or#s as$ !ecall %rele&ant documents retrie&ed 'total rele&ant documents in collection Precision "or#s as$ Precision % rele&ant documents retrie&ed 'total documents in collection

)esigning Search Interface *actors Affecting )esign Interface Level of searching expertise and motivation 20 Are users comfortable with speciali&ed $uery languages /e.g., %oolean operators0, or do they prefer natural language3 10 4o they want to wor hard to ma e their search a success, or are they happy with "good enough" results3 ype of information need 20 Should the results be brief, or should they provide e#tensive detail for each document3 10 And how detailed a $uery are users willing to provide to e#press their needs3 ype of information being searched 20 Is it written in 5'67 or other formats, including non te#tual3 10 Is the content dynamic or more static3 !mount of information being searched 20 Will users be overwhelmed by the number of documents retrieved3 10 5ow many results is the "right number"3 +he Search Bo, 8very site has the Search Bo,

Simple and clear. 'ype in some eywords or a natural language e#pression, hit the "search" button, and the whole site will be searched and results are displayed. !epeat Search in !esults Page Sometimes users are forgetful, especially after do&ens of results. 4isplaying the initial search within the search bo# can be $uite useful- it restates the search that was "ust e#ecuted, and allows the user to modify it without re(entering it. E,plain Where !esult -omes *rom It!s useful to ma e clear what content was searched, especially if your search system supports multiple search &ones. E,plain What .ser )id If the results of a search are not satisfactory, it can be useful to state what happened behind the scenes, providing the user with a better understanding of the situation and a "umping(off point should she wish to revise her search. "What happened" can include the two guidelines "ust mentioned, as well as20 9estate the $uery. 10 4escribe what content was searched. :0 4escribe any filters that might be in place /e.g., date ranges0. ;0 Show other current settings, such as the sort order. <0 6ention the number of results retrieved. When .ser /ets Struc# =ero hits is a bit more frustrating for users and challenging for information architects. Adopt a "no dead ends" policy to address this problem. ">o dead ends" simply means that users always have another option, even if they!ve retrieved &ero results. 'he options can consist of20 A means of revising the search. 10 Search tips or other advice on how to improve the search. :0 A means of browsing . ;0 A human contact if searching and browsing won!t wor .

Inde,ing !esults )isplaying !esults 9esults can be displayed by 1 Ways1 ( Search 0ones Inde,es

Search 0ones Search &ones are subsets of a web site that have been inde#ed separately from the rest of the site!s content. When a user searches a search &one, he has, through interaction with the site, already identified himself as interested in that particular information. Ideally, the search &ones in a site correspond to his specific needs, and the result is improved retrieval performance. %y eliminating content that is irrelevant to his need, the user should retrieve fewer, more relevant, results. )n 4ell!s site , users can select search &ones by audience type- home?home office, small business, and so on. 'hese divisions $uite possibly mirror how the company is organi&ed, and perhaps each is stored in a separate file system or on its own server. If that!s the case, the search &ones are already in place, leveraging the way the files are logically and perhaps physically stored. You can create search &ones in as many ways as you can physically segregate documents or logically tag them. Your decisions in selecting your site!s organi&ation schemes often help you determine search &ones as well.

20 Content type 10 Audience :0 Sub"ect?topic ;0 @eography <0 Author A0 4epartment?business unit Inde,es Inde,es can be di&ided into 1 categories$ 1 ( 1 Inde,ing for Specific Audience Inde,ing by +opic Inde,ing !ecent -ontent

Inde,ing *or Specific Audience 'o create an architecture that uses an audience(oriented organi&ation scheme, it ma es sense to create search &ones by audience brea down.

Inde,ing by +opic If you!re loo ing for information on investments that will help you achieve a financially secure retirement, you might pre(select the "Individual" search &one, Inde,ing !ecent -ontent 9ecent Content is latest update of data, so it will help user in the best way. Search or 2ot to Search "oes your site have enough content#

5ow much content is enough to merit the use of a search engine3 It!s hard to say. It could be <, <B, or <BB pages+ no specific number serves as a standard threshold. What!s more important is the type of information need that!s typical of your site!s users. *sers of a technical support site often have a specific ind of information in mind, and are more li ely to re$uire search than users of an online ban ing site. If your site is more li e a library than a software application, then search probably ma es sense. If that!s the case, then consider the volume of content, balancing the time re$uired to set up and maintain a search system with the payoff it will bring to your site!s users. $ill your site%s users bother with search# It may already be clear that your users would rather browse than search. ,or e#ample, users of a greeting card site may prefer browsing thumbnails of cards instead of searching. )r perhaps users do want to search, but searching is a lower priority for them, and it should be for you as you consider how to spend your information architecture development budget. "o you have the time and know-how to optimi&e your site%s search system# Search engines are fairly easy to get up and running, but li e many things on the Web, they are difficult to implement effectively. As a user of the Web, you!ve certainly seen incomprehensible search interfaces, and we!re sure that your $ueries have retrieved some pretty inscrutable results. 'his is often due to a lac of planning by the site developer, who probably installed the search engine with its default settings, pointed it at the site, and forgot about it. If you don!t plan on putting some significant time into configuring your search engine properly, reconsider your decision to implement it. !re there better alternatives# Search may be a good way to serve your site!s users, but other ways may wor better. ,or e#ample, if you don!t have the technical e#pertise or confidence to configure a search engine or the money to shell out for one, consider providing a site inde# instead. %oth site inde#es and search engines help users who now what they!re loo ing for. While a site inde# can be a hec of a lot of wor , it is typically created and maintained manually, and can therefore be maintained by anyone who nows 5'67. $ill investing in search systems divert resources from more useful navigation systems# %ecause many site developers see search engines as the solution to the problems users have when trying to find information in their sites, search engines become %and(Aids for sites with poorly designed navigation systems and other architectural wea nesses. If you see yourself falling into this trap, you should probably suspend implementing your search system until you fi# your navigation system!s problems. Information Architecture

'he elements of information architecture includes navigation systems labeling systems organi&ation systems Inde#ing searching methods Information Architect a person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge the main "ob?goals of the information architect includes Clarification of the mission and vision for the site thereby balancing the needs of its sponsoring organi&ation and the needs of its audiences. 4etermines what content and functionality the site will contain. Specifies how users will find information in the site by defining its organization, navigation, labeling, and searching systems. 6aps out how the site will accommodate change and growth over time. 2eed of Information Architect An information Architect is needed for well organised website because well( planned information architectures greatly benefit both consumers and producers. 'he website Should be $uic ly understandable to the user who is accessing it for the very first time it. It should help *ser to $uic ly find the information needed by them/thereby reducing the time and costs wasted on both finding information and not finding information0. +he -onsumer3s Perspecti&e 'here can be two type of consumers users who new what they!re loo ing for. 'hey now what it!s called /or labeled0, 'hey "ust want to find it and leave, as $uic ly and painlessly as possible )ther users do not now what they!re loo ing for. 'hey come to the site with a vague idea of the information they need.'hey may not now the right labels to describe what they want or even whether it e#ists. As they casually e#plore your site, they may learn about products or services that they!d never even considered. So the information architect help to develop web content that help consumer to find information $uic ly and easily and donCt let consumer to be confused, frustrated, and angry. +he Producer3s Perspecti&e

.roducers usually want to now the return on their investment for information architecture design 'he architecture to be selected must satisfy business needs and must be cost effective

Who Should be the Information Architect 'he information architect of a large, comple# web site should have two things someone who can thin as an outsider and be sensitive to the needs of the site!s users, and at the same time act as insider and understand the site!s sponsoring organi&ation, its mission, goals, content, audiences, and inner wor ings. the information architect should combine the generalist!s ability to understand the perspectives of other disciplines with speciali&ed s ills in visuali&ing, organi&ing, and labeling information. +hin#ing #i#e an 4utsider a logical choice for the architect role is a senior person who nows the organi&ation as a whole and who isn!t involved e#clusively within the activities of one department. )ne drawbac in choosing a senior level manager is that he or she may have so many other responsibilities that the wor gets delegated out to staff, thereby negating the original goal of using a single, organi&ationally savvy person. Another approach is bringing in a true outsider- a new hire or a consultant 'he drawbac s of bringing in a true outsider are that they can be e#pensive and can lac sufficient nowledge of the organi&ation to do the "ob, thus delaying the pro"ect!s progress. +hin#ing li#e an Insider the responsibility is given to an insider who is not a senior level manager. it!s the people who often new most about an organi&ation!s processes, and how to get things done within that organi&ation. 'he problem with a lower(level person is his or her nowledge may be too specific. he lac s the political base re$uired to mobili&e cooperation from others in the organi&ation. A possible solution is to ma e information architecture as this person!s only "ob responsibility. -ollaboration 5 -ommunication 'he information architect must communicate effectively with the web site development team successful design and production of comple# web sites re$uires an interdisciplinary team approach. 'he composition of this team will vary, depending upon

the needs of a particular pro"ect, available budget, and the availability of e#pertise. most pro"ects re$uire e#pertise in mar eting, information architecture, graphic design, writing and editing, programming, and pro"ect management. Mar#eting$- 'he mar eting team focuses on the intended purposes and audiences for the web site. 'hey must understand what will bring the right people to the web site and what will bring them bac again. Information Architecture$-'he information architects focus on the design of organi&ation, inde#ing, labeling, and navigation systems to support browsing and searching throughout the web site. /raphic )esign$-'he designers are responsible for the graphic design and page layout that defines the graphic identity of the web site. Editors $-'heir tas s may involve proofreading and editing copy, massaging content to ensure a common voice for the site, and creating new copy. +echnical$-'he technical designers and programmers are responsible for server administration and the development or integration of site production tools and web site applications. 'hey advise the other teams regarding technology(related opportunities and limitations. Pro6ect Management$-'he pro"ect manager eeps the pro"ect on schedule and within budget. 5e or she facilitates communication between the other teams and the clients or internal sta eholders. 'he success of a web site design and production pro"ect depends on successful communication and collaboration between these speciali&ed team members. 4rgani7ing Information )ur understanding of the world is largely determined by our ability to organi&e information. We organi&e to understand to e#plain and to control. As information architects, we organi&e information so that people can find the right answers to their $uestions. We strive to support casual browsing and directed searching. )ur aim is to apply organi&ation and labeling systems that ma e sense to users. -hallenges in Information Architecture Ambiguity Classification systems are built upon the foundation of language, and language is often ambiguous i.e words are capable of being understood in two or more possible ways. ,or e#ample the word pitch can be interpreted as A salesman!s persuasive line of tal .

An element of sound determined by the fre$uency of vibration. A throw, fling, or toss. When we use words as labels for our categories, we run the ris that users will miss our meaning 8eterogeneity 5eterogeneity refers to an ob"ect or collection of ob"ects composed of unrelated or unli e parts. 6ost web sites are highly heterogeneous in two respects. 20 web sites often provide access to documents and their components at varying levels of granularity . A web site might present articles and "ournals and "ournal databases side by side. 10 web sites typically provide access to documents in multiple formats e.g. te#tual information shares space with video. 'he heterogeneous nature of web sites ma es it difficult to impose highly structured organi&ation systems on the content. )ifferences in Perspecti&es 'he ways people organi&e and name files and directories on their computers can be illogical. 'he fact is that labeling and organi&ation systems are intensely affected by their creators! perspectives. At the corporate level web sites are organi&ed according to internal divisions . 'here we see groupings such as marketing, sales, customer support etc and makes it difficult to search. 'his challenge is complicated because web sites are designed for multiple users, and all users will have different perspectives or ways of understanding the information. 'heir levels of familiarity with your company and your web site will vary. ,or these reasons, it is impossible to create a perfect organi&ation system Internal Politics Individuals and departments constantly position for power or respect. As an information architect, you must be sensitive to your organi&ation!s political environment. In certain cases, you must remind your colleagues to focus on creating an architecture that wor s for the user. In others, you may need to ma e compromises to avoid serious political conflict. .olitics raise the comple#ity and difficulty of creating usable information architectures. 4rgani7ing Websites 5 Intranet )rgani&ation systems are composed of -( Organization schemes defines the shared characteristics of content items and influences the logical grouping of those items. Organization structures defines the types of relationships between content items and groups.

4rgani7ation Schemes We navigate through organi&ation schemes every day. .hone boo s, supermar ets, and television programming guides all use organi&ation schemes to facilitate access. Some schemes are easy to use. 'here are three types of organisation schemes 8#act Ambigious 5ybrid E,act 4rgani7ation Schemes 4ivide information into well defined and mutually e#clusive sections. 'he alphabetical organi&ation of the phone boo !s white pages is a perfect e#ample. 'ypes '(!lphabetical An alphabetical organi&ation scheme is the primary organi&ation scheme for encyclopedias and dictionaries. ( -hronological Certain types of information lend themselves to chronological organi&ation. ,or e#ample, an archive of press releases might be organi&ed by the date of release 1 /eographical .lace is often an important characteristic of information. We travel from one place to another. We care about the news and weather that affects us in our location. Ambiguous 4rgani7ation Schemes Ambiguous organi&ation schemes divide information into categories that defy e#act definition e.g.the tomato. 4o we put it under fruit, berry, or vegetable3 'here!s a simple reason why people find ambiguous organi&ation schemes so useful- We don't always know what we're looking for +ypes of ambiguous schemes 'opical-( includes organi&ing of information by sub"ect or topic. .hone boo , yellow pages are organi&ed topically 'as (oriented-( organi&e content and applications into a collection of processes, functions, or tas s.e.g 4es top software applications such as word processors and spreadsheets provide familiar e#amples Audience(specific-( It is used where there are two or more clearly definable audiences for a web site .'his scheme wor s best when the site is fre$uented by repeat visitors who can boo mar their particular section of the site. 8ybrid Schemes

6i#tures if both >eeded generally when architect could not classify the data.

4rgani7ation Structures )rgani&ation structure plays very important role in the design of web sites. 'he structure of information defines the primary ways in which users can navigate. ,or e#ample- 6ovies are linear in their physical structure. 6a"or organi&ation structures are hierarchy database(oriented model, hyperte#t +he 8ierarchy 5ierarchies shows parent(child relationships e.g. boo s (Dchapters(D sections (D paragraphs (D sentences(D words(D letters.

Benefits *sers can easily and $uic ly understand web sites. 'hey are able to develop a mental model of the site!s structure and their location within that structure. *sers feel comfortable %ecause hierarchies provide a simple and familiar way to organi&e information, they are usually a good place to start the information architecture process. 'he top(down approach allows you to $uic ly get a handle on the scope of the web site without going through an e#tensive content inventory process.

)esigning 8ierarchies 5ierarchical categories should be mutually e#clusive It is important to consider the balance between breadth and depth in your information hierarchy. %readth refers to the number of options at each level of the hierarchy. 4epth refers to the number of levels in the hierarchy. 8yperte,t 5yperte#t is a relatively new and highly nonlinear way of structuring information. It involves two primary types of components the items or chun s of information which are to be lin ed, the lin s between those chun s. 'hese components can form hypermedia systems that connect te#t, data, image, and video chun s. 5yperte#t chun s can be connected hierarchically, non(hierarchically, or both.

Benefits great fle#ibility, )isad&antages it presents substantial potential for comple#ity and user confusion. As users navigate through highly hyper te#tual web sites, it is easy for them to get lost !elational )ata-Base Model$ Bottom-.p Approach .A database is a collection of records. 8ach record has a number of associated fields. powerful field(specific searching is a ma"or advantage of the database model Benefits content management is substantially easier with a database

supports distributed content management 5elps in employing security measures databases enable you to repurpose the same content in multiple forms and formats for different audiences

9imitations 'he records must follow rigid rules Within a particular record type, each record must have the same fields, and within each field, the formatting rules must be applied consistently across records. 'his highly structured approach does not wor well with the heterogeneous content of many web sites

-reating -ohesi&e 4rgani7ation Systems

8#perience designer >athan Shedroff suggests that the first step in transforming data into information is e#ploring its organi&ation.EFFFFG As you!ve seen in this chapter, organi&ation systems are fairly comple#. You need to consider a variety of e#act and ambiguous organi&ation schemes. Should you organi&e by topic, by tas , or by audience3 5ow about a chronological or geographical scheme3 What about using multiple organi&ation schemes3 You also need to thin about the organi&ation structures that influence how users can navigate through these schemes. Should you use a hierarchy, or would a more structured database model wor best3 .erhaps a loose hyperte#tual web would allow the most fle#ibility3 'a en together in the conte#t of a large web site development pro"ect, these $uestions can be overwhelming. 'hat!s why it!s important to brea down the site into its components, so you can tac le one $uestion at a time. Also, eep in mind that all information(retrieval systems wor best when applied to narrow domains of homogeneous content. %y decomposing the content collection into these narrow domains, you can identify opportunities for highly effective organi&ation systems. 5owever, it!s also important not to lose sight of the big picture. As with coo ing, you need to mi# the right ingredients in the right way to get the desired results. Hust because you li e mushrooms and panca es doesn!t mean they will go well together. 'he recipe for cohesive organi&ation systems varies from site to site. 5owever, there are a few guidelines to eep in mind. When considering which organi&ation schemes to use, remember the distinction between e#act and ambiguous schemes. 8#act schemes are best for nown(item searching, when users now precisely what they are loo ing for. Ambiguous schemes are best for browsing and associative learning, when users have a vaguely defined information need. Whenever possible, use both types of schemes. Also, be aware of the challenges of organi&ing information on the Web. 7anguage is ambiguous, content is heterogeneous, people have different perspectives, and politics can rear its ugly head. .roviding multiple ways to access the same information can help to deal with all of these challenges.

When thin ing about which organi&ation structures to use, eep in mind that large web sites and intranets typically re$uire several types of structure. 'he top(level, umbrella architecture for the site will almost certainly be hierarchical. As you are designing this hierarchy, eep a loo out for collections of structured, homogeneous information. 'hese potential subsites are e#cellent candidates for the database model. ,inally, remember that less structured, more creative relationships between content items can be handled through author(supplied hyperte#t or user(contributed tagging. In this way, myriad organi&ation structures together can create a cohesive organi&ation system.

:;1; +ypes of 2a&igation Systems

>avigation systems are composed of several basic elements, or subsystems. ,irst, we have the global, local, and conte#tual navigation systems that are integrated within the web pages themselves. 'hese embedded navigation systems are typically wrapped around and infused within the content of the site. 'hey provide both conte#t and fle#ibility, helping users understand where they are and where they can go. 'hese three ma"or systems, shown in ,igure I(2, are generally necessary but not sufficient in themselves.

)igure *-'+ ,lobal- local- and contextual embedded navigation systems

Second, we have supplemental navigation systems such as sitemaps, inde#es, and guides that e#ist outside the content(bearing pages. 'hese are shown in ,igure I(1.

)igure *-.+ Supplemental navigation systems

Similar to search, these supplemental navigation systems provide different ways of accessing the same information. Sitemaps provide a bird!s(eye view of the site. A to =

inde#es allow direct access to content. And guides often feature linear navigation customi&ed to a specific audience, tas , or topic. As we!ll e#plain, each type of supplemental navigation system serves a uni$ue purpose and is designed to fit within the broader framewor of integrated searching and browsing systems.

:;<; Embedded 2a&igation Systems

6ost large web sites include all three of the ma"or embedded navigation systems we saw bac in ,igure I(2. @lobal, local, and conte#tual navigation are e#tremely common on the Web. 8ach system solves specific problems and presents uni$ue challenges. 'o design a successful site, it is essential to understand the nature of these systems and how they wor together to provide conte#t and fle#ibility.

:;<;1; /lobal =Site-Wide 2a&igation Systems

%y definition, a global navigation system is intended to be present on every page throughout a site. It is often implemented in the form of a navigation bar at the top of each page. 'hese site(wide navigation systems allow direct access to ey areas and functions, no matter where the user travels in the site!s hierarchy. %ecause global navigation bars are often the single consistent navigation element in the site, they have a huge impact on usability. Conse$uently, they should be sub"ected to intensive, iterative user(centered design and testing. @lobal navigation bars come in all shapes and si&es.

)igure *-*+ ,lobal navigation bars from "ell- !pple- and !ma&on

6ost global navigation bars provide a lin to the home page. 6any provide a lin to the search function. Some, li e Apple!s and Ama&on!s, reinforce the site!s structure and provide conte#tual clues to identify the user!s current location within the site. )thers, li e 4ell!s, have a simpler implementation and don!t do either. 'his pushes the burden of providing conte#t down to the local level and opens the door for inconsistency and disorientation. @lobal navigation system design forces difficult decisions that must be informed by user needs and by the organi&ation!s goals, content, technology, and culture. )ne si&e does not fit all.

It!s often not possible to identify the global navigation system from the main page of a web site. 'he main page is sometimes the sole e#ception to the omnipresence of the global navigation bar. In some cases, designers choose to show an e#panded view of the global navigation system on the main page. In other cases, the main page presents a variety of navigation options, and it!s impossible to tell which ones have been carried throughout the site without e#ploring further. 'his is the case with 6icrosoft!s main page, as shown in ,igure I(J. 'here are three distinct navigation bars, and it!s unclear whether any or all of them constitute a global navigation system. 5owever, chec out a few subsidiary pages, and it becomes obvious that only one is truly global. 'he other two are simply the designer!s way of e#posing important dimensions of the site!s structure on the main page. As ,igure I(K shows, 6icrosoft!s global navigation bar is very compact, and for good reason. 'his global navigation bar represents a massive investment in screen real estate, occupying a prominent position on several hundred thousand pages. 'hese pages e#ist within do&ens of subsites that are "owned" by powerful business units and functions within 6icrosoft.

)igure *-/+ 0icrosoft%s global navigation bar

4espite convincing user(centered design arguments, it is still not easy to drive consistency throughout the subsites of modern, decentrali&ed organi&ations. 6ost large enterprises are luc y if they can get the company logo and a simple global navigation bar implemented on JB percent of their pages.

:;<;(; 9ocal 2a&igation Systems

In many web sites, the global navigation system is complemented by one or more local navigation systems that enable users to e#plore the immediate area. Some tightly controlled sites integrate global and local navigation into a consistent, unified system. ,or e#ample, the >ew Yor 'imes web site presents a global navigation bar that e#pands to provide local navigation options for each category of news. A reader who selects "%usiness" sees different local navigation options than a reader who selects "Sports," but both sets of options are presented within the same navigational framewor In contrast, large sites li e /,igure I(220 often provide multiple local navigation systems that may have little in common with one another or with the global navigation system.

)igure *-''+ Local navigation at 0icrosoft+com

'hese local navigation systems and the content to which they provide access are often
G so different that these local areas are referred to as subsites,E or sites within sites. Subsites e#ist for two primary reasons. ,irst, certain areas of content and functionality really do merit a uni$ue navigation approach. Second, due to the decentrali&ed nature of large organi&ations, different groups of people are often responsible for different content areas, and each group may decide to handle navigation differently.

'he term subsite was coined by Ha ob >ielsen in his 2KKA article "'he 9ise of the Subsite" to describe a collection of web pages within a larger site that invite a common style and shared navigation mechanism uni$ue to those pages. See In 6icrosoft!s case, it ma es sense to provide different ways to navigate the Hobs Area, the Support 4atabase, and the .roduct Catalog. 'hese local navigation systems are aligned with user needs and the local content. *nfortunately, there are many bad e#amples on the Web where the variation between local navigation systems is simply a result of multiple design groups choosing to run in different directions. 6any organi&ations are still struggling with the $uestion of how much central control to e#ercise over the loo and feel of their local navigation systems. @rappling with these local navigation issues can ma e global navigation systems loo easy.

:;<;1; -onte,tual 2a&igation

Some relationships don!t fit neatly into the structured categories of global and local navigation. 'his demands the creation of contextual navigation lin s specific to a particular page, document, or ob"ect. )n an e(commerce site, these "See Also" lin s can point users to related products and services. )n an educational site, they might point to similar articles or related topics. In this way, conte#tual navigation supports associative learning. *sers learn by e#ploring the relationships you define between items. 'hey might learn about useful products they didn!t now about, or become interested in a sub"ect they!d never considered before. Conte#tual navigation allows you to create a web of connective tissue that benefits users and the organi&ation.

'he actual definition of these lin s is often more editorial than architectural. 'ypically an author, editor, or sub"ect matter e#pert will determine appropriate lin s once the content is placed into the architectural framewor of the web site. In practice, this usually involves representing words or phrases within sentences or paragraphs /i.e., prose0 as embedded or "inline" hyperte#t lin s. A page from Stanford *niversity!s site, shown in ,igure I(21, provides an e#ample of carefully chosen inline conte#tual navigation lin s.

)igure *-'.+ 1nline contextual navigation links

'his approach can be problematic if these conte#tual lin s are critical to the content, since usability testing shows that users often tend to scan pages so $uic ly they miss or ignore these less conspicuous lin s. ,or this reason, you may want to design a system that provides a specific area of the page or a visual convention for conte#tual lin s. As you can see in ,igure I(2:, 98I designs conte#tual navigation lin s to related products into the layout of each page. 6oderation is the primary rule of thumb for guiding the creation of these lin s. *sed sparingly /as in this e#ample0, conte#tual lin s can complement the e#isting navigation systems by adding one more degree of fle#ibility. *sed in e#cess, they can add clutter and confusion. Content authors have the option to replace or complement the embedded lin s with e#ternal lin s that are easier for the user to see.

2xternal contextual navigation links

'he approach used on each page should be determined by the nature and importance of the conte#tual lin s. ,or noncritical lin s provided as a point of interest, inline lin s can be a useful but unobtrusive solution. When designing a conte#tual navigation system, imagine that every page on the site is a main page or portal in its own right. )nce a user has identified a particular product or document, the rest of the site fades into the bac ground. 'his page is now his interface. Where might he want to go from here3 Consider the 98I e#ample. What additional information will the customer want before ma ing a buying decision3 What other products might he want to buy3 Conte#tual navigation provides a real opportunity to cross(sell, up(sell, build brand, and provide customer value. %ecause these associative relationships are so important, we!ll revisit this topic in Chapter K.

:;<;>; Implementing Embedded 2a&igation

'he constant challenge in navigation system design is to balance the fle#ibility of movement with the danger of overwhelming the user with too many options. )ne ey to success is simply recogni&ing that global, local, and conte#tual navigation elements e#ist together on most pages /consider the representation of a web page shown in ,igure I(2;0. When integrated effectively, they can complement one another.

)igure *-'3+ Navigation can drown out the content

%ut when designed independently, the three systems can combine to monopoli&e a great deal of screen real estate. Alone, they may each be manageable, but together on one page, the variety of options may overwhelm the user and drown out the content. In some cases, you may need to revisit the number of options within each navigation bar. In others, the problem may be minimi&ed through careful design and layout. In its simplest form, a navigation bar is a distinct collection of hyperte#t lin s that connect a series of pages, enabling movement among them. 'hey can support global, local, and conte#tual navigation. You can implement navigation in all sorts of ways, using te#t or graphics, pull(downs, pop(ups, rollovers, cascading menus, and so on. 6any of these implementation decisions fall primarily within the realms of interaction design and technical performance rather than information architecture, but let!s trespass briefly and hit a few highlights. ,or e#ample, is it better to create te#tual or graphical navigation bars3 Well, graphic navigation bars tend to loo nicer, but can slow down the page(loading speed and are more e#pensive to design and maintain. If you use graphic navigation bars, you need to be sensitive to the needs of users with low bandwidth connections and te#t(only browsers. .eople who are blind and people using wireless mobile devices are two important audiences to consider. Appropriate use of the LA7'D attribute to define replacement te#t for the image will ensure that your site supports navigation for these users. And where do the navigation bars belong on the page3 It has become convention to place the global navigation bar along the top of the page and the local navigation bar along the lefthand side. 5owever, all sorts of permutations can be successful. Hust ma e sure you do lots of user testing, particularly if you deviate from convention. What about te#tual labels versus icons3 'e#tual labels are the easiest to create and most clearly indicate the contents of each option. Icons, on the other hand, are relatively difficult to create and are often ambiguous. It!s difficult to represent abstract concepts through images. A picture may say a thousand words, but often they!re the wrong wordsparticularly when you!re communicating to a global audience. Icons can successfully be used to complement the te#tual labels, however. Since repeat users may become so familiar with the icons that they no longer need to read the te#tual labels, icons can be useful in facilitating rapid menu selection. In ,igure I( 2<, Scott 6cCloud combines te#t and images to create a global navigation system that balances form and function. %ut can you guess what lies behind icons b through e3 )n this comic creator!s web site, the mystery icons provo e curiosity and create a playful e#perience. )n a business web site, they would simply be frustrating.

)igure *-'4+ Navigation with integrated text and images

5ow about the increasingly common use of 45'67 and HavaScript rollovers to show the navigation options behind a category or menu option /as shown in ,igure I(2A03 Well, it depends. )n one hand, this prospective view on steroids can ma e valuable use of limited screen real estate, enhancing the scent of information and often reducing the number of pages and clic s, while simultaneously adding a dynamic, interactive feel to the web site. )n the other hand, rollover navigation can be difficult to do well. *sability and accessibility often suffer due to poor design and implementation. Also, the use of rollover navigation is no substitute for the careful selection of the omnipresent ma"or categories and labels, which lend themselves to rapid visual scanning. You can!t e#pect the user to "mine sweep" her mouse cursor over every option. And finally, what about frames3 In the 2KKBs, designers went a little cra&y with frames, implementing navigation bars and banner advertisements ali e inside non( scrollable panes. We don!t see too many frames these days, and that!s a very good thing. 8ven beyond the technical design and performance problems, frames tend to cripple usability. After all, the Web is built upon a model of pages, each of which has a uni$ue address or *97. *sers are familiar with the concept of pages. ,rames confuse this issue by slicing up pages into independent panes of content. %y disrupting the page model, the use of frames fre$uently disables important browser navigation features such as boo mar ing, visited and unvisited lin discrimination, and history lists. ,rames can also confuse users who are trying to perform simple tas s such as using the %ac button, reloading a page, and printing a page. While web browsers have improved in their ability to handle frames, they can!t remove the confusion caused by violating the page paradigm.