Good Structures Should Pave Ways

By Geoff Hart, ITworld |  Opinion

Organization charts represent a good example of a hierarchical
structure, though as I noted above, they can also be ordered if the
hierarchy is clearly defined. Hierarchies differ from ordered
structures in that their order is arbitrary, based on degrees of
similarity rather than a universally acknowledged sequence; for
example, technical communicators fall under product development in some
companies, under sales and marketing in others, and stand as their own
department in others.

Web structures are the source of the name for the World Wide Web
itself: highly interconnected, with a bewildering variety of links
between related topics. In Web structures, as in the Web itself, paths
potentially exist between any two related topics. The problem with such
structures is that their unparalleled flexibility comes at the cost of
unpredictability: nobody knows all possible paths, nor even the best
path to a specific piece of information.

In practice, most sites combine all four structures, with the most
appropriate structure chosen for each component of the site. To link
these structures, you can rely on familiar, time-tested schemata: a
table of contents (such as a site map) to provide a high-level view of
what structures exist on your site, and an index that provides a low-
level view of individual topics for those who aren't interested in the
big picture.

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