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abacquer



Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:28 pm    Post subject: Category Navigation Reply with quote

I noticed something confusing about categories today. When you click a "more..." link to an article that has bubbled up to the "Main Page" and then start using the "next" and "previous" links to page through the articles, you can get switched into a category and suddenly the next and previous links only show articles for that category. The result? You can click "Next" from article "A" to get to article "B", and since "B" is a different category, article "A" doesn't show up as the "Previous" link.

In other words, if you use categories, readers can't use the next and previous links at the top of your articles to move through all the new articles on your blog for the day, unless they are all in the same category.

I'm not sure I can think of a better way to implement it, but I think it's pretty confusing to the average surfer to have articles seem to "disappear" when they never clicked on a category link in the topic list. I would assume that if someone clicks a link in the topic list, they would expect the blog to be filtered for articles that belong to that category.

Is there any way for the filtering to not-happen if I just clicked on an article? I suspect not. I'm thinking I will probably stop using categories... I want my blog to be as unconfusing as possible.
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john
Site Admin


Joined: 16 Mar 2004
Posts: 3434

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Category Navigation Reply with quote

Interesting point... I suppose you could generate Next and Prev links dynamically based on the referring page. So if the more link came from an excerpt from the Main Page, the Next link would go to the Next article appearing on the Main Page. If the more link came from a Category Page then the resulting article page would be created with Next and Prev links based on the Category structure.

I wonder if this would be more confusing to readers as the same page would then have different Next and Prev links depending on how you got to it... Hmmm...
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abacquer



Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:11 am    Post subject: Re: Category Navigation Reply with quote

john wrote:
Interesting point... I suppose you could generate Next and Prev links dynamically based on the referring page. So if the more link came from an excerpt from the Main Page, the Next link would go to the Next article appearing on the Main Page. If the more link came from a Category Page then the resulting article page would be created with Next and Prev links based on the Category structure.

I wonder if this would be more confusing to readers as the same page would then have different Next and Prev links depending on how you got to it... Hmmm...


Well if you wanted to keep the behavior you have now, but cut down on the confusion, the easiest solution I can think of is to simply offer two sets of next/previous links. One set says "next in category / previous in category" while the other just says "next article / previous article". Maybe instead of "in Category" you could even say the category name like "next in Politics\Iraq". I suspect this gets tripped up my multi-category articles.

The thing that I'm not sure I articulated accurately in my previous post is that when you click the "more..." link to a bubbled up article, it does *not* always switch categories, but it does switch categories if you click next or previous thereafter. I can demonstrate this if you follow these steps:

1. go to my blog at http://unbecominglevity.blogharbor.com/blog
2. now click the "more..." link for the article "Network Security -- Beware Chocolate"
3. note how the category listing at the top of the page is "Main Page"
4. scroll down to the bottom of the article, before the comments, and note that it says it was posted to the categories "Humor" and "Internet" (so we have not switched categories yet even though this is a bubbled-up article)
5. scroll back up, and note the "next" article link points to the article "Second Prime Tree of Depth 22 Found! -- 2p +/- 2,258,025 at 1,867,823".
6. click the "next" link
7. this is another bubbled-up article, except this time, as you can see from the header at the top of the page, we've been sucked down to its category (Main Page Science Math)
8. note that the "previous" link now refers to the article "Prime Trees -- Update" and not the article "Network Security -- Beware Chocolate" which was in fact the previous article you came from.

If I were going to venture a theory, I'd say that the reason why I sometimes get "sucked down to the category" and sometimes I don't has to do with how many categories an article belongs to. If it belongs to only 1 category, I'll get pulled into that category when I click "more..." or "next" or "previous" to arrive at that article. If the article has 2 or more categories, this doesn't happen.

Question Which leads to a possible workaround for me. What if all my articles get put into multiple categories of which one is "MAIN PAGE"? Then when I click a topic link the articles would still filter, but "more...", "next", and "previous" would no longer autoswitch me to different categories as I navigate through the articles. (Unless now they autoswitch me out to main page when I'm browsing within a category.)

Ahhh, that's the metaphor I was trying to express! "Browsing within a category." When I come to a blog I think it is common to look at it like it is a set of search results, and if I want I can refine the set by clicking a topic link, or doing a search within that set. This is why I get so thrown off by the category and filtering autoswitching on me--the metaphor breaks down. As far as I'm concerned I'm looking at the "Main Page" set unless I deliberately selected a subset.

BTW I like the category links across the top when you are looking at an article in a category, as they are a great navigational tool for someone to say "Hey, this article is interesting, what else is in this category?" I thought they were just an expression of the category the article was in, as opposed to the category the browser was "in". As a suggestion, for multi-categoried articles, you might want to show multiple lines of links like:

Main Page Catering Weddings
Main Page Humor
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abacquer



Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:35 am    Post subject: Another Category Navigation Oddity Reply with quote

Here's an unrelated thing about category navigation, which I think is a minor bug.

The Main Page of my blog is set to show articles for the last seven days. At the top are links saying "Previous 7 days" and "Next 7 days". All this seems to work. When I look at my main page today (April 22) I only see articles going back to April 15.

But if I switch to a category that has a lot of articles, like "Politics", now I see articles going all the way back to March 25, and yet the link at the top still says "Previous 7 days". Sounds like something is amiss. If, when browsing within a category blogharbor switches to "12 articles per page" or "30 days per page", the text of the previous page link should probably reflect that switch.
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john
Site Admin


Joined: 16 Mar 2004
Posts: 3434

PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Category Navigation Reply with quote

Great analysis, abacquer. We will be examining the points you made and seeing where we can improve with respect to navigation. We're in bug fixing mode right now, so enhancements to the way category navigation and linking work will come in a later round of development.

abacquer wrote:
BTW I like the category links across the top when you are looking at an article in a category, as they are a great navigational tool for someone to say "Hey, this article is interesting, what else is in this category?" I thought they were just an expression of the category the article was in, as opposed to the category the browser was "in". As a suggestion, for multi-categoried articles, you might want to show multiple lines of links like:

Main Page Catering Weddings
Main Page Humor


This is currently done at the bottom of an article right before the comments. Look at your page here for example and see the text:

Posted to: Main Page
Humor

at the end of the article.
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john
Site Admin


Joined: 16 Mar 2004
Posts: 3434

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:15 am    Post subject: Re: Another Category Navigation Oddity Reply with quote

abacquer wrote:
Here's an unrelated thing about category navigation, which I think is a minor bug.

The Main Page of my blog is set to show articles for the last seven days. At the top are links saying "Previous 7 days" and "Next 7 days". All this seems to work. When I look at my main page today (April 22) I only see articles going back to April 15.

But if I switch to a category that has a lot of articles, like "Politics", now I see articles going all the way back to March 25, and yet the link at the top still says "Previous 7 days". Sounds like something is amiss. If, when browsing within a category blogharbor switches to "12 articles per page" or "30 days per page", the text of the previous page link should probably reflect that switch.


That's not a bug - it's a feature! Laughing

This method of navigation (the By days Navigation in the Settings tab) actually shows the last 7 days that have articles rather than the last 7 calendar days. This way we avoid making the user page through groups of days with no articles.
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abacquer



Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2004 11:42 am    Post subject: Re: Category Navigation Reply with quote

abacquer wrote:
Which leads to a possible workaround for me. What if all my articles get put into multiple categories of which one is "MAIN PAGE"? Then when I click a topic link the articles would still filter, but "more...", "next", and "previous" would no longer autoswitch me to different categories as I navigate through the articles. (Unless now they autoswitch me out to main page when I'm browsing within a category.)


This workaround works great by the way, I can still filter on subcategories and the Next and Previous links never lose their mind and take me somewhere I didn't want to go.
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