Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Usability

Making the Page Think like a Network, Part 3

  • Print
  • + Share This
A basic hurdle in making a Web page "think" like a network is the page itself. Barry Chudakov shows how to use a concept he calls Orbital Information Management Maps to create multiple, dynamically changing perspectives and enhance the depth and usability of information.

This series of articles is excerpted from a New Riders title currently in development, A Blinding Glimpse of Everything: Designing Information for the Multidimensional Web, by Barry Chudakov (ISBN 0735713138). To provide feedback or comment on this article, please contact the author: informassociates@cfl.rr.com

To download a PDF version of this article (Adobe Acrobat required), click here.

Like this article? We recommend

A basic hurdle to making the page think like a network is the page itself. The page is the natural form or container for the alphabetic matrix. This form also has inherent drawbacks.

In this article, I'll review the basics of adding a unique style of Information Balcony to any kind of information. I call this type of information overview Orbital Information Management Maps, or OIM2. Using OIM2 creates multiple, dynamically changing perspectives. These maps remedy some of the page's drawbacks while greatly enhancing the depth and usability of information.

Alphabetical and Orbital Information Compared

Information on the Web—and in other digital environments—behaves differently than information on the printed page. To be truly effective, our formatting should account for this difference.

Today information is generated omnidirectionally. However, like time's arrow, the alphabetic matrix goes only in one direction at a time. The alphabetic matrix actually hides information's relational powers. Conversely, seeing information as objects revolving in orbits—circular, interactive, interdependent, interconnected—creates a much more effective conceptual framework for information.

An object can be any thing or any body of information. An orbit is where the object lives and moves. In the same orbital diagram you can mix things and bodies of information because, for the purposes of information management, they function identically. For example, in an orbital diagram you could have a series of hotels (things) and also hotel pricing, access, geographical, and marketing data (bodies of information). Each object can have its own orbit.

Figure 1 shows a typical Web-based alphabetical information presentation. This is a home page from the About.com Web site.

Figure 1Figure 1 Current home page for About.com.

Now view the same information presentation in an orbital format. Note that orbital diagrams can be designed in multiple configurations. In Figure 2 we see an example of a gyroscopic design, but other configurations can be employed.

Figure 2Figure 2 One possible orbit-based version of the About.com home page. Primary menu topics are arranged as objects moving about a user-defined center rather than as an alphabetic list. Note that in this interface, we have incorporated an OIM2 window. In typical window fashion, it opens up into an existing environment.

Here are a few ways to compare and contrast the two information presentations.

  • Note that, for the most part, the organizing principle of the current site is alphabetic.

  • The organizing principle of the orbital site is configured by the user topically, conceptually, and in other ways.

  • On the current site there are a few news items posted at the top of the home page and a Top 10 list down the right side.

  • These news items and Top 10 list would still appear below the (transparent) orbital balcony; however, highlighting any topic would provide the user with an array of orbital connectivity providing context, navigation, location, and relational support.

  • On the current site there is a search feature (Find It Now), Resources and Partners. But otherwise, the primary means of relating to this information is to proceed from A to Z.

  • The orbital site is built relationally so that you see how other information is related at a glance: Relational information is on or connected to the orbit you're viewing.

  • The current site gives little or no guided navigation around the site.

  • The orbital site is designed for motion; a trackball provides navigational guidance.

  • The current site does not allow the user to personalize the information, provide a sense of context for the information, or suggest that another context might be more useful.

  • Information presented in orbits can be viewed from various angles—as though you looked at the Earth first from the moon, then from Mars, and finally from the middle of the Milky Way. In other words, orbital views give you topsight, insight, oversight, and what we might describe as surround-sight. This personalizes information and provides a wealth of context options.

It is tempting to view these home page comparisons and choose sides. You cast information either in the alphabetic matrix or in objects and orbits. However, here is where the Information Balcony shows its utility. We can have both the alphabetic matrix and the management of that matrix; orbital maps' transparency allows us to see content and management of that content in one view.

OIM2 does not repeat the functions already presented in words. It gives conceptual oversight and mobility to information. Facts in motion is a fundamentally new way to consider information: Information is not static, but dynamic. (On the Web we're never only in one place; we're connected coming and going.) We see this today on news channels and sports broadcasts, with the information crawl at the bottom of the screen, and on the Web with pop-up screens. But this is just the beginning.

Note that in Figure 3 there are a number of ways to navigate through this information. The information is personalized to you (here, you are Eric), and all objects are related by their orbital configuration. You can see at a glance that it is virtually impossible not to be related because the object/orbit configuration is itself a relational statement. Moreover, because orbits exist in relation to other orbits, you see relatedness by both highlighting and concentric orbital configurations.

Figure 3Figure 3 Here the focal point of this customized map is the user himself. In this PERSONAL orbit we would typically find personal documents, graphics, audio files, and so on. Note that you can still see other orbits on the site; the active orbit is indicated by a darker color.

Many types of information can be enhanced by visualizing information as objects operating within orbits. For some clients (in this case, the Disney Corporation), we would graphically represent perceptions of the guest experience to look like the orbital diagrams in Figure 4. These OIM2 use orbits presented in a spirograph. (These OIM2 were designed by Steve Johnston of 2820 Design.)

Figure 4Figure 4 These are three views of the same information for the Disney Corporation. The difference is that the information is viewed from different perceptive centers.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020