Authoring an interactive work
"Authors of hypertext and hypermedia materials confront three related
problems: First, what must they do to orient readers and help them read
efficiently and with pleasure? Second, how can they inform those reading
a document where the links in that document lead? Third, how can they
assist readers who have just entered a new document to feel at home
there? Drawing upon the analogy of travel, we can say that the first
problem concerns navigation information necessary for making
one's way through the materials. The second concerns exit or
departure information and the third arrival or entrance
information. In each case, creators of hypermedia materials must decide
what readers need to know at either end of a hypermedia link in order
to make use of what they find there.
[...] The assumption by readers is that links represent useful, interesting‹in
a word, significant‹relationships."
(G.Landow, The Rhetoric of Hypermedia: Some Rules for Authors, 8 )
- Make the interaction intuitive, avoiding special instructions exterior
to the depicted world.
- Use simple clear metaphors for interaction and navigation:
- Buildings, public spaces
- Toys, games
- Doors, elevators, drawers, boxes; furniture etc.
- Expand/transgress familiar models by translating them into the digital
- Provide a unified metaphor for each screen: a single dominant principle
- Allow a visible continuity between cause and effect; have the triggering
element in the user's activity be recognizable.
- Provide means for orienting the user in space:
- By relying on devices such as maps, dictionaries, layering, puzzle
- By using continuous (analog) environments vs. digital (on/off)
modes of navigation.
- Provide devices for focusing attention on crucial areas (hot spots):
- focus and iris
- graphic emphasis (underline; bold)
- Define the placement, role and extent of control of the author and
reader; determine whether you want to create a Closed or an Open structure.
- Determine the types of links used:
- What are the links based on? - association; expansion of detail;
deviation of path.
- Are the links part of the story told?
- Determine whether the arrangement of text on the page is significant,
whether the order of lines and words is replaceable.
- Define the function of images - are they used to illustrate a point;
complement it; interpret it; subvert and complicate it?
- Determine whether the narrative is to be arranged in time or in space
(equalizing beginning and end) or in a combination of both.
- Outline deliberate gaps of information and determine the moments
and degrees of of filling in missing data.
- Outline the participating points of view and the means for revealing
- Outline motifs or other cohesion devices (e.g. rhyming; links) vs.
devices for fragmentation (cuts).