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Thread: Current page - link or no link

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Number of posts in this thread: 14 (In chronological order)

From: Penny Roberts
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 5:40AM
Subject: Current page - link or no link
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I've read arguments both ways so I'd be interested in your views on
this: in a navigation list should the current page be a live link or not?

Penny




From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 9:00AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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On Wed, 30 Nov 2005, Penny Roberts wrote:

> I've read arguments both ways so I'd be interested in your views on this: in
> a navigation list should the current page be a live link or not?

Where did you find arguments both ways?

If you have a navigation list, it exists for the purpose of letting the
user navigate to other pages. What would be the meaning of moving from one
page to the same page, except confusing the user?

The only "argument" in favor of that is that some authoring methods (and
tools) make it easier to create navigation lists that are the same across
pages.

--
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/





From: Randy Pearson
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 10:20AM
Subject: RE: Current page - link or no link
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> On the pages I design using PHP, I use a string of
> "if" statements that logically read something like this... "If the
> navigation item is the current page, display it in the 'current page'
> format, if not, display it as a link."

If you can do that, couldn't you just a easily just render the link text
without the wrapping <a>..</a> element and avoid the color-cue and other
confusion issues?

-- Randy





From: Michael D. Roush
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 11:00AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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Randy Pearson wrote:
>>On the pages I design using PHP, I use a string of
>> "if" statements that logically read something like this... "If the
>>navigation item is the current page, display it in the 'current page'
>>format, if not, display it as a link."
>
>
> If you can do that, couldn't you just a easily just render the link text
> without the wrapping <a>..</a> element and avoid the color-cue and other
> confusion issues?

I may not have been clear in my first post. What you are describing is
basically what I do.

If the page is, for instance, not the home page, the following is the
first text item in the navigation:

[a href="./" title="Home Page." class="nav"]Home[/a]

If the page is the home page, the following appears:
[span class="active_page"]Home[/span]

Now, I've reasoned to myself that the fact that the "Home" text will be
skipped over when someone is tabbing through the links may be good
enough to get around my thought that the only thing differentiating the
'disabled link' from the real links is the color. But, finding another
way besides a different color to let people know at a glance that a
particular navigation item is the current page makes me at least feel a
little better about the design.

Michael




From: Michael D. Roush
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 7:40PM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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Carol E. Wheeler wrote:

> Well, I am doing this by using a virtual file for navigation across all
> my pages. This is on small sites with only level(6 buttons or so) in the
> navigation bar. Is there a way to disable the link to the current page
> without adding code to individual pages? Is this only critical in a
> complex site? Does this constitute an accessibility issue I need to
> address?

In my experience, most accessibility consultants will tell you that
having a link on a page that goes to the place you already are is a
potential barrier for folks with cognitive disorders. Heck, I can tell
you from my own personal experience that it is quite frustrating to
click on a link that you think is going to take you to a different page,
but it just plops you right back down where you already were - sorta
like getting in the elevator on the first floor and pushing the "1"
button and expecting to go somewhere.

While the process would be different for different programming
languages, there is usually a way to design an effective means for
getting around this. On the pages I design using PHP, I use a string of
"if" statements that logically read something like this... "If the
navigation item is the current page, display it in the 'current page'
format, if not, display it as a link."

One thing I caught myself on soon after that, though, was that all the
text items in the navigation still looked the same except that the
'current page' was a different color. I suspect this is a no-no as
well, violating the guideline against presenting information only with a
color cue.




From: Carol E. Wheeler
Date: Wed, Nov 30 2005 8:20PM
Subject: RE: Current page - link or no link
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Jukka Korpela wrote:
The only "argument" in favor of that is that some authoring methods (and
tools) make it easier to create navigation lists that are the same
across pages.

Well, I am doing this by using a virtual file for navigation across all
my pages. This is on small sites with only level(6 buttons or so) in the
navigation bar. Is there a way to disable the link to the current page
without adding code to individual pages? Is this only critical in a
complex site? Does this constitute an accessibility issue I need to
address?

Questions, questions!

Carol


Carol E. Wheeler
American Library Assoc
Washington Office
202.628.8410 v
202.628.8424




From: Penny Roberts
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 3:00AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> On Wed, 30 Nov 2005, Penny Roberts wrote:
>
>> I've read arguments both ways so I'd be interested in your views on
>> this: in a navigation list should the current page be a live link or not?
>
>
> Where did you find arguments both ways?

On other fora.

> If you have a navigation list, it exists for the purpose of letting the
> user navigate to other pages. What would be the meaning of moving from
> one page to the same page, except confusing the user?

Actually the argument is the other way: some users get confused as to
where they are (a bit like poor spatial awareness) and clicking on the
link to the page that they think they are on orientates them.

Penny




From: Penny Roberts
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 4:20AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> On Thu, 1 Dec 2005, Penny Roberts wrote:
>
>> Actually the argument is the other way: some users get confused as to
>> where they are (a bit like poor spatial awareness) and clicking on the
>> link to the page that they think they are on orientates them.
>
>
> Sorry, but that sounds unbelievable.

Why? Just because you've never heard of it?

Did you hear this as first-hand
> knowledge from someone who actually describes her or his own experience?

Yes, I have heard it from someone describing his own experience.

Penny




From: Rimantas Liubertas
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 5:00AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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> On Thu, 1 Dec 2005, Penny Roberts wrote:
>
> > Actually the argument is the other way: some users get confused as to where
> > they are (a bit like poor spatial awareness) and clicking on the link to the
> > page that they think they are on orientates them.
>
> Sorry, but that sounds unbelievable. Did you hear this as first-hand
> knowledge from someone who actually describes her or his own experience?
<...>

Unbelievable? Not for me. Poor navigation makes me to do the same too,
sometimes.
Of course, this can be fixed by other means, but this does indeed happen.

Another case when linking current page may be useful is when pages is
updates, e.g. has
comments. Sure, one can use "refresh", but I prefer a link, especially
in case I have posted
a comment :)

Regards,
Rimantas
--
http://rimantas.com/




From: Rimantas Liubertas
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 6:20AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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2005/12/1, Jukka K. Korpela < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >:
<...>
> If I follow a link and nothing happens (i.e. the page remains the same),
> the natural expectation is that something is very wrong.

When I suspect I am on the page to which given link points my natural
expectation I click the link exactly to make sure I am. So it is not "very
wrong" it is what I expect. If something happens when I click, that
means I was wrong in my assumptions.

<...>
> > Another case when linking current page may be useful is when pages is
> > updates, e.g. has
> > comments. Sure, one can use "refresh", but I prefer a link, especially
> > in case I have posted
> > a comment :)
>
> This is a particularly good example of why such links should _not_ be
> used.
>
> A link to the page itself is _not_ a refresh button. A browser _should
> not_ and _does not_ refresh the page, if the caching mechanisms indicate
> that the page is cacheable. A normal user cannot know whether it is, so
> he should expect that following a link to the page itself causes no
> action, though it might refresh the page on Tuesday evenings if the phase
> of the moon is favorable.

Define "normal user". But thats not the point.

The point is: I prefer clicking link for the simple reason: I try to
avoid double posting.
And "normal user" indeed has no way to know before hand, how well server side
copes with double posting. So I take no risk.

No from HTTP point of view it makes no difference did I click a link,
or just hit refresh
button (I am not talking about modifier keys which force browser to
add headers to
demand uncached copy).
Caching mechanism work the same: browser sends a request,
and gets a responese "not modified" if nothing has changed, or the new content.

What matters for me is the end result - if there is something new, I
want to see it,
if not - I don't care if I get the same old content from the browsers cache (if
caching is impelemented well), o resent from the server.

> If you post comments, you need to learn how to use your browser to get the
> refreshed page. Simple as that. Having learned this, you can use the
> technique anyway, instead of using a technique that may sometimes work on
> a minority of pages that have been misdesigned to contain self-referencing
> links.

See above. Hitting self referencing link works. Hitting refresh may result in
double posting. And no, I am not willing to learn, how each site deals with
two identical post requests.

I also would like to see some backing for "minority" and "misdesigned" claims.

Regards,
Rimantas
--
http://rimantas.com/




From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 7:40AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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On Thu, 1 Dec 2005, Rimantas Liubertas wrote:

>> Sorry, but that sounds unbelievable. Did you hear this as first-hand
>> knowledge from someone who actually describes her or his own experience?
> <...>
>
> Unbelievable? Not for me. Poor navigation makes me to do the same too,
> sometimes.

Poor navigation or other things may cause people to be lost in hyperspace,
but the solution is to fix the navigation or other problems, not to create
additional problems.

If I follow a link and nothing happens (i.e. the page remains the same),
the natural expectation is that something is very wrong. The link does not
work, or the link the pointed to a wrong destination. Where is the right
destination? I know that misguided authors use self-referencing links, but
most users would be puzzled. And I know that authors also mistakenly set
up links that _unintentionally_ point to the same page. (After all, you
only need to write href="" and forget to put any address there. It happens
to me, too.=

> Another case when linking current page may be useful is when pages is
> updates, e.g. has
> comments. Sure, one can use "refresh", but I prefer a link, especially
> in case I have posted
> a comment :)

This is a particularly good example of why such links should _not_ be
used.

A link to the page itself is _not_ a refresh button. A browser _should
not_ and _does not_ refresh the page, if the caching mechanisms indicate
that the page is cacheable. A normal user cannot know whether it is, so
he should expect that following a link to the page itself causes no
action, though it might refresh the page on Tuesday evenings if the phase
of the moon is favorable.

If you post comments, you need to learn how to use your browser to get the
refreshed page. Simple as that. Having learned this, you can use the
technique anyway, instead of using a technique that may sometimes work on
a minority of pages that have been misdesigned to contain self-referencing
links.

--
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/





From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 9:40AM
Subject: Re: Current page - link or no link
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On Thu, 1 Dec 2005, Penny Roberts wrote:

> Actually the argument is the other way: some users get confused as to where
> they are (a bit like poor spatial awareness) and clicking on the link to the
> page that they think they are on orientates them.

Sorry, but that sounds unbelievable. Did you hear this as first-hand
knowledge from someone who actually describes her or his own experience?

If there is a list of navigational links and one of them is a link to the
current page, would this really help someone, as opposite to having the
name of the page among the links as non-link text? If you think that it is
not sufficient to make it non-link, you might consider putting an
explanation like "(you are here now)" after the text.

--
Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/





From: Randy Pearson
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 12:20PM
Subject: RE: Current page - link or no link
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>> I may not have been clear in my first post. What you are describing is
>> basically what I do. <snip>

>> If the page is the home page, the following appears:
>> [span class="active_page"]Home[/span]

>> ... the only thing differentiating the
>> 'disabled link' from the real links is the color. But,
>> finding another way besides a different color to let
>> people know at a glance that a particular navigation
>> item is the current page makes me at least feel a
>> little better about the design.

OK. I see where you are. It sounds like you've got no text-decoration
on the links, so they are not underlined, else that would give
you the differentiation beyond just color. One thing you could try
is making the active_page bolder using a heavier font-weight
setting. Provides a bit of a "you are here" context.





From: Steven Faulkner
Date: Thu, Dec 01 2005 3:40PM
Subject: RE: Current page - link or no link
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>From my experience of observing screen reader users,
an active link to the current page causes confusion for the user, quite
often because their is an redundant active link pointing to the current
page, they think that they are not on the page itself. This situation is
exacerbated by poor title element and main heading content.

with regards

Steven Faulkner
Web Accessibility Consultant
vision australia - information & library service
454 Glenferrie Road
Kooyong Victoria 3144
Phone: (613) 9864 9281
Fax: (613) 9864 9210
Email: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
www.accessibleinfo.org.au | www.wat-c.org

Download the Web Accessibility Toolbar
[http://www.visionaustralia.org.au/ais/toolbar/]

Vision Australia was formed through the merger of the Royal Blind
Society
NSW, the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Vision Australia
Foundation and the National Information & Library Service.
ABN: 67 108 391 831 ACN: 108 391 831





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