Sixteenth – Navigare necesse est

This week’s reading was a very complex article that nevertheless ends on a positive and encouraging note. Nevertheless, because in the first part I almost needed a dictionary. Craig Hockenberry’s “Apps vs. The Web” in A List Apart discusses the technical backbone of programming and designing for the Iphone. It is full of terms that I have read the first time: XMLHttpRequest, Cocoa Touch, and NSURLConnection objects, and not mentioning Sparrow framework. But overcoming the lack of knowledge, the article still has a lot to say, even to me. And I am mentioning this not because it has anything to do directly with the questions of this assignment. In the second and also final part, he gives a road map of how to turn a website compliant to the Iphone (instead of thinking in App-terms from the beginning.) And he does it without using words that I do not know. Thus the positive end is that he suggests that even with modest capacities one can turn a website approachable through the screen of an Iphone. And this leads me to the current assignment:

Are menus arguably the most important factor in web design? How important is labeling in creating a clear page hierarchy? How about identifying the menu as links but in a way that doesn’t distract from the rest of the content? When would you make a case for vertical navigation over horizontal navigation?

These are four questions, and each can be answered with few words: Not necessarily, very important, great idea, rarely, I guess.

But longer answers are much better. Especially that through them I can explain the connection that I see between the article and the questions (even if there was no premeditated agenda connecting them.)

To the first two questions I would say that creating easy navigation is what is really important, and it is less interesting how this navigation is created. Either with a good menu or with a strong navigation bar. (For the designer, of course this is a great challenge.) Labeling and hierarchy complements this, since they help the viewer to map the site, and thus navigate easily.

Here I have to mention that in web-related context we use has many words borrowed from seafaring. For example we navigate a site and surf the web. If there are no more expressions like this, I will have to modify this note.

And going back to the questions. The third connects back to the article. To create a menu, which functions as a collection of links, can also help bridging over the gap between viewing the same web site on a computer screen and on an Iphone. No space needed for a separate navigation bar, hence more space remains for content proper. And I would certainly not use a long and wide vertical navigation bar on a small screen. But this answer is very hypothetical, since the navigation bar is part of the design of a site including the navigation bar and its spacing should be dependent on the overall idea of the outlook of the whole site.

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