{}  Page-travel: navigation in Large Web Pages
The content of Wikipedia pages, except in the case of very short pages, is broken down into sections and Contents, near to the top of the age, gives links to the sections. For example, there are 16 sections making up the Wikipedia page 'List of invasions,' part of a series on War


These are the first 10 sections of the page, as provided by Contents:

Very often, of course, a reader will wish to consult some of these sections, not all of them. If a reader would like to consult the section on World War I and then the section on World War II, then the Contents list makes it easy to go to the section on World War I but then, the process becomes unnecessarily time-consuming. The reader has to go back to the top of the page and, after finding the link to the section on World War II, click on it. It's the process of going back to the top of the page which is unnecessarily laborious. In this case, it's not very laborious, but when a reader is consulting more than two sections, it becomes more and more laborious.

Innovations of mine  in Web page navigation make the process as trouble-free as is possible. This page and most other pages of the site make use of the rail, the blue band by the left margin. Wherever a reader is on the page, the rail is clearly visible. Clicking on the rail takes the reader to the top of the page almost immediately. On other pages, clicking anywhere in the text or on any image takes the reader back to the top of the page. Where a Contents list is provided (on almost all pages, but not on this brief page) the list can then be used to find and click on any other section.










This is a very brief introduction. For more detailed information on innovations in 'page travel' as well as other innovations, see the page Web Design.


It's common to see in long Web pages an instruction of the kind, 'Click here to go to top of page' or 'top of page.' It makes the simple task of going to the top of the page unnecessarily slow and cumbersome. It takes time to find the instruction before moving the cursor to it. The instruction has to be repeated at intervals. This detracts from the appearance of the page.


The rail, the blue line on the left, is used on most pages of this site, although not on the Home Page. This is a far superior method of reaching the top of the page. Its consistent position on the page makes it easy to find and use. If there's a list of links at the top of the page to different areas lower down the page, then the reader can return to the top of the page almost instantaneously, at any time, to consult the list again. One example from many, my page on Bullfighting.


'Large pages' are pages which are wide as well as long. Using a page which uses 'Long Page Design' and 'Large Page Design,' even pages concerned only with factual information, can be compared with taking a journey. Discussions of web navigation are generally concerned with navigation in a site made up of many pages and give guidance on how to get from one page to another. Navigation in Long Page Design and Large Page Design is far more similar to navigation as understood by travellers and explorers, navigation in a continuous environment. Here, I concentrate on Large Pages.


The starting point for journeys on the Large Page is page-home just as Home Page is most often the starting point in a site made up of many pages. Travelling in the Large Page can be achieved by scrolling but with far less effort by taking flights and by using a rail network. The 'flights' are simply the movements made by clicking on a link. The rails   are blue bands but 'invisible bands' can be used as well. The rail on the left takes the traveller in a northerly direction - from anywhere on the page, you can travel back to the top of the page by clicking on the rail. Rails can be used for other directions: south, east and west. Another technique I use is 'dual-purpose' text and images. On pages which use this technique, the reader can simply click anywhere in the text or in an image to return to the top of the page.


Large pages may take the traveller very far from home but the feeling of remoteness is removed by the fact that it's made very easy to return to home. In the page Poetry, if you click on any poem, you're given a flight straight back to page-home. This is achieved by using dual-purpose text and images. (Readers without an interest in poetry would find it interesting, I think, to use the page.) Page-home has all the facilities you need to use the page and to start on other journeys. It has a list of destinations or some other way of displaying the journeys which can be taken, such as an image which shows the destinations, the regions, the flight network and the rail network. It has an information board which gives basic information about the site. There may be other facilities too.


Sometimes, when we travel to a different region (a region within the country or in a different country) we have the feeling that 'we could be anywhere.' The regions within a Large Page can be designed to avoid this feeling, to give regional differences. In the page Poems, the regions are very different in the form, tone or content of the poems but the differences are also shown by using different colour backgrounds. The use of different fonts or text sizes is another way of making one region different from another.

A screen can only show some of the Large Page. You can quickly see much more, or all of it, get a 'bird's eye view', aerial view, by using the zoom facility of some browsers - zooming out rather than zooming in. You can appreciate very easily the organization of a significant part of the Large Page, and then return to what I call ground view. There's a real fascination, I think, in being able to switch between aerial view and ground view of the page. Aerial view gives a useful view of the layout of the page but it's very interesting, I think, in its own right.


This is an example of a flight-node. A flight-node can be active - clicking on it takes the user to a location - or inactive. In this case, it draws attention to a link, often an underlined link. Larger flight-nodes can be used. These are large enough to be easily seen when the page is in aerial view.


The method used in Poems to return to page-home can be used in all Large Pages (and Long Pages too.) The method makes use of 'dual-purpose' text and images. Some of the poems are in text form and some are in image form. These forms are used to present the poem but they have a further use, for the link with page-home. This is to apply the design-principle that one object can have multiple functions: what I call a 'one-many' linkage. Dual-purpose text, like rails, can have many other uses besides going to the top of the page or returning to page-home.


Using the rail or dual-purpose text and images provides travel facilities which are very quick and efficient, not slow and cumbersome. If the page has a list of links at the top, then the traveller can click on a flight-link, fly to the new place on the page and consult the material there. Then, to go back to the top of the page, the traveller simply clicks on the rail. It's always in the same place. There's never any need to look for it. The traveller then makes a rail journey back to the top of the page. (Rail journeys are just as quick as flights.) Alternatively, the user can click on 'dual-purpose' text or an image to travel to the top of the page. At the top of the page are the links and the user can click on another link. An example from this site (there are many others): the page on Web Design: a very large page but straightforward to use. Travel facilities for journeys east and west as well as north and south can easily be implemented.


The page on Concrete poetry uses two vertical rails. The outer rail, very near to the left margin, is used to go to the top of page. The inner rail is used to go to the top of one section, which has its own underlined links.


Large Page Design is the design of pages which are wide as well as long. The poems on the page Poems could have been displayed one underneath the other, to make a long page. Long pages are very common of course. Instead, I place the different regions one underneath the other and the poems in each region are side by side so that the page is wide, although not very wide. Many large pages will be much wider.


Wide page design doesn't include, in my classification, web pages (none to be found on this site) which are wide simply because the lines of text have been formatted to make these lines long or very long. Wikipedia, for example, makes use of very long lines. In print design, the optimum line length for readability and comprehension is only about 9 words.. According to some opinions, Web design can make use of longer or much longer text lines, but on this site, I consistently adhere to this norm. The resulting columns of text are obviously much longer than would be the case with wide lines, but the system of rail travel makes navigation very easy.


A great deal of contemporary information is 'wide' as well as 'long' and Large Page Design is needed to present the information adequately. For example,


Designers have been using the left edge of the page almost exclusively for a long time. To do justice to content which is wide as well as long, it's necessary to head east, to explore and use more of the interior of the page.