SIGIA-L Mail Archives: SIGIA-L: can we talk about site maps as
SIGIA-L: can we talk about site maps as navigation?
From: Paula Thornton (paula.thornton_at_prodigy.net)
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 23:36:39 EDT
David Heller: "We asked people what they thought they would find under the
link, and no one got it."
Let's draw an analogy to real life. Brain surgeons have to map each
individual's brain before conducting surgery. Why? Because the same
functions are located in different areas in each individual's brain. This
has two implications: one analogous, the other literal. The brain is
complex and survives that way because it is adaptive. Good sites will be
adaptive. Unless maps can be dynamically generated from the content,
maintaining them will be cost prohibitive. As implied by David's
observations above, people see things differently. Maps are only an
"indication" of what "might" be -- not a declaration of what they are, at
least not from any given individual's perspective. Therefore the value they
return to the recipient may be less than the cost to create and maintain
them (even if automated...how much did the automation cost?).
Personally, the fact that a page, such as a site map receives a high number
of hits tells me absolutely nothing, because of all of the data that is
missing -- hitting a page doesn't mean that I found what I'm looking for.
Nor does it tell me how much effort it took me to eventually discover what
I was looking for or what I was attempting to do. It also tells me that we
need better methods of navigation, because if someone needs to rely on a
site map (which many have declared only needs to represent the highest
levels of classification), to find what they're looking for, they're
doomed. Neither our brains, nor optimized storage technology use a single
path to access a destination.
Remember those visual mazes in coloring books? As we got older we realized
that all we had to do was start at the end and work backwards, avoiding all
the dead ends. That should be our goal: to put ourselves out of business of
classifying things into categories -- except to assign "likely" metadata
attributes. Working from Einstein's theory of relativity, we allow the
visitor to designate the destination first, and then we move the
destination to the visitor, not the other way around.
We keep forgetting, this is an interactive environment and we're not
capitalizing on that fact -- we keep falling back to print "rules". Static
classifications are necessary for standardization. An individual site has
no need for standardization (except for certain "convention") -- it does
not need to conform with the next site (as would libraries).
The walls of this box are becoming a bit too confining for my needs. Anyone
else out there willing to look outside?
Paula Thornton, Interaction Design Strategist
Thus the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen,
but to think what nobody yet has thought
about that which everybody sees ~ Schopenhauer
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:37 EST