Battling the sinister force of entropy is a full-time job for any Web site that grows and changes over time. As a site evolves, its structure needs to gracefully accomodate new information and new services, while at the same time continually offering the user navigation that is intuitive and painless. That’s a difficult job in and of itself, made worse when you realize that few popular sites have the luxury of “freezing” their sites while new services and navigation are implemented.
In my other life’s work as a Web developer, I often help my clients through the struggle of defining their site’s structure and navigation. Often, an approach that might be intuitive to the designer will be frustrating for the end-user, and this is exacerbated by the amorphous nature of hypertext, with its propensity for nefariously cross-linked documents.
At DargonZine, we’ve been able to go for a long time with only minimal attention given to navigation. Until recently, our site was simple enough that navigation wasn’t a major issue. However, as the amount of information we offered our users grew, so did the site’s complexity and our need for better navigational facilities than a single “return to home page” at the bottom of every document.
We knew that the answer to our problem was a site-wide navigation toolbar, but it still took us nearly a year to close on a particular layout and set of icons. But if you visit the DargonZine Web site today, you will see that the nav bar is now a reality. It isn’t implemented on every single page, but it’s well on the way to becoming as ubiquitous as Coca-Cola!
That may not sound like cause for celebration to you, but it marks another milestone in the development of our Web site, and hopefully it will make our site more attractive and easier to use for everyone. Let us know what you think of it!
This issue contains the second parts of two stories which were begun in DargonZine 11-5, our previous issue. Those are Stuart Whitby’s “A Spell of Rain”, and John Doucette’s “Deliverance”. These are accompanied by “Maiden Cloth”, a tale which was originally written for last year’s “Night of Souls” issue, DargonZine 10-7. Unfortunately, after its author disclaimed ownership, the story passed through many hands on its long and troubled journey toward publication. Finally, after many months of counterproductive revisions and occasional abandonment, you see it here in these pages in its original form, as it was first submitted over a year ago. We hope it has finally found a place to call home!
Stay tuned for our next issue, which will highlight the results of our newest writing contest!