Editor & Publisher doesn’t support url navigation
I often remove the final part of a url in order to (hopefully) move to the sub-section home within a site I’m browsing. At E&P, moving from an article from Steve Outing’s Stop the Presses column to the directory it belongs to shows the other files there. If you don’t want to expose the guts of your site, just disable directory browsing (a common HTTP server setting.) Better yet, default the directory to a page that lists all the content in that section, or maybe to the latest article if the directory contains temporal entries.
Jakob Nielsen wrote an article on url navigation, back when he didn’t think game publishers need to follow his web design principles to create their games. I’m not making this up, just check out the current useit news. Of course gaming needs strong usability, but it follows its own principles. If every game looked the same, who would play them? And mastering a complex set of features is often part of the goals (it’s called proficiency, a very different thing than unnecessary complexity.) Nielsen should take it easy: just because some guys at EA bought his book doesn’t mean they want to use it for their games (they do have, you know, web sites), let alone that their competitors now change their strategy! Talk about wishful thinking.
But wait, I have just found some notes and a screenshot that mister Nielsen sent Epic, after they asked him how to improve on their pathetic track record.
"You can see some easy usability improvements at the top of the screen. For another $20,000 I can redesign the bottom section to look like Amazon.com because if they use thumbnails you should too. Also, you must add a "Freeze Other Players" feature because I found your game unusable and damn frustrating. I joined an online game and was killed 54 times before I could even move the mouse. Do you think users will want to learn your game before they can win?
Failing to act on my recommendations will drive users to other FPS’s (First Person Shooters) that make it clearer where you have to aim and get rid of all the distracting sound and visual effects. You have to remember that the players’ goal is to reach a very high score. You must not get in their way and should make it extra easy to finish the whole game in less than three minutes. My studies with users (5 will be enough, so I can keep most of the 20 grands for myself) show that with every extra minute you will lose 28.14% of them."
If you didn’t know, it’s been done before.
01/03/02 update: E&P redesigned and changed their urls doing so. Another butchered transition for lack of redirection from old urls or even a customized 404. But my original point about url navigation still stands: this article should logically lead to a list of columns (but it still doesn’t work).