UKOLN Institutional Web Management Workshop

Web Site Navigation Session

This document gives a draft proposal for the half-day session on Web Site Navigation.

The session is expected to attract 10-20 participants.

Abstract: Novice users navigate a web site by clicking on links. As expertise is gained, more sophisticated approaches to web site navigation may be used including search engines, entering URLs directly, making assumptions about URL naming conventions, etc. As we know, web users have limited patience, and if information is not readily available, users are likely to abandon their visit to the web site. This session considers approaches to web engineering which will help end users to navigate web sites effectively.

Note that web site design will not be covered in this session.

Workshop Facilitator: Helen Varley Sargan (Cambridge)

Workshop Session Aims: The aim of the session is to understand how you can influence the usability of your website by:

Workshop Venue

The workshop session will require a PC cluster and a networked PC with Powerpoint and a web browser with a projection device and an OHP for use by the speakers. Flipcharts will be needed for the discussion groups. The workshop session should be based in a PC cluster for the hands-on session.

Note that it is not possible to install additional software in the cluster.

Workshop Timetable

The workshop will include a number of brief presentations, discussions and demonstrations.

Time Session Comments Who
Getting Your Site Listed
2.00-2.10 Introduction Discussion of aims of session Helen Varley Sargan
2.10-2.20 Getting to know each other Participants spilt into smaller groups and introduce each other and explain what they want from session Helen Varley Sargan
2.20-2.30 Report back Report back from groups and identification of common threads Rapporteurs
2.30-2.40 Outline of problems and areas to look at that might solve them Talk reviewing issues which have emerged Helen Varley Sargan
How Search Engines List Web Sites Talk
2.40-2.50 Robots - what they do, how to control them Talk Danny Sullivan
2.50-3.20 Approaches to control of robots Discussion group exercise All
3.20-3.40 Tea -
3.40-4.10 Structure and Navigation of your web site Helen Varley Sargan
4.10-4.40 Group Session  
4.40-5.00 Conclusions Group Discussion  
5.00-5.30 "Where To From Here?" Group Discussion  

Reading Materials

The following documents should be read.

Useit June 1999: Content Integration
Useit May 1999: Top Ten New Mistakes of Web Design
Improving Web Information Systems with Navigational Patterns

Misc Stuff

The following topics may be of possible use.

Say something about how users browse - don't like scrolling, down link deep linking. Perhaps have group exercises so people arrive at conclusions for themselves.
Navigational Aids
Cover navigational bars, writing style, coverage. Perhaps have hands-on exercise with participants looking at a set of examples, and reporting back?
Client and server-side redirects. pros and cons.
URL naming conventions
Short URLs vs long ones (pros and cons). Issues of use of backend databases (meaningless URLs e.g. C/Net, Patent database, ...)
404 error messages
Issues raised in Ariadne article.
Apache redirects
Apache haas a URL spellchecker / case conversion module.
What is home? What does "Return to Home Page" mean?
URL as User Interface
Users use URLs directly. They enter them in a browser. They make assumptions about the resources based on the URL. They make guesses if a URL is broken.
Domain naming conventions vs Use of,, etc
Citing URLs or etc. Citing an article, or an entry point to an article. Should you cite .html files, or directories?
(Global) Search engines
How to get your page(s) indexed - what works and what doesn't.
(Local) Search engines
Which search engine to use. Approaches (free vs licenced).
Search engines
Misc stuff mentioned in email message.
Site Maps
What are site maps (tables of contents, indexes, etc.)? Current usage. Tools to create them.
Leaf nodes
How do users navigate if they get to a "leaf node" from a search engine?
Configurable Interfaces
How will personalised interfaces affect things?
Technological Approaches to Implementing Solutions
Simple approach - HTML templates (pros and cons); Better approach - SSIs; More sophisticated approach - content management systems, dynamic generation of navigational bars, etc

Brian's Contributions

Things I can do:

Possible Exercises

A set of exercises which could be used are given below.