Eastgate Systems     Serious Hypertext

Seven Lessons from Gardening

1 Hypertext disorientation most often arises from muddled writing, or from the complexity of the subject. Many hypertexts do not require elaborate navigational apparatus.

2 Rigid hypertext structure is costly. By repeatedly inviting readers to leave the hypertext, by concentrating attention and traffic on navigation centers, and by pushing content away from key pages (and traffic), rigid structure can hide a hypertext's message and distort its voice.

3 The shortest path is not always the best.

4 Gardens are farmland that delights the senses; parks are wilderness, tamed for our enjoyment. Large hypertexts and Web sites must often contain both parks and gardens.

5 Visual effects and other irregularities enhance pathways. But use punctuation sparingly; unwanted interruptions are tiresome and intrusive.

6 The boundaries of parks should be especially clear, lest readers see them as mere wilderness. Gateways introduce structure and guideposts confirm it, assuring visitors that they are amid a crafted experience, not chaotic wilderness.

7 Rigid structure makes a large hypertext seem smaller. Complex and intricate structure makes a small hypertext seem larger, inviting deeper and more thoughtful exploration.

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