My DokuWiki sandbox

Navigation Issues

I believe out-of-the-box DokuWiki has a number of deficiencies related to navigation. Before describing them, I'd like to point out that you won't be able to see them at the present site - after all, this site wants to demonstrate a solution. To see the deficiencies, you may want to look at a classical DokuWiki site, such as this one.

Internally, DokuWiki uses simple, lowercase words to identify pages. This is fine for a website designer and maintainer. However, by default, these short names are exposed in wiki page links and in the breadcrumb navigation. For users, this not very convenient: they prefer something more descriptive.

According to Steve Krug, a web site makes an implicit social contract with its visitors: The name of the page will match the words I clicked to get there. The name of the page refers to its first, most prominent heading. In DokuWiki, it is the heading to which the Table of Contents is attached.

Note how in the present site, the page links are more descriptive, and how they match the name of the page that they refer to. This is done automatically using the link to the wiki page.

Highlighting the current location

To improve a user's feeling of knowing where he is, a navigation link to the current page should be highlighted. This should be done even if it feels redundant, such as highlighting the last crumb of the breadcrumbs trace. Out-of-the-box DokuWiki doesn't do this.

Note how the present site highlights a navigation link to the current page, both in de sidebar and in the breadcrumbs.

Last but not least, there should be support for hierarchical navigation. Steve Krug's gives a lot of interesting arguments and viewpoints that I won't repeat here, but his bottom-line is: Navigation is the web site, so it had better be good.

Out-of-the-box DokuWiki does a nice job of automating in-page navigation through the generated Table of Contents. However, there is no support for hierarchical navigation. The breadcrumbs can be a useful supplementary tool, but no substitute.

Note how the present site uses a sidebar. This is a conventional way to hold at least part of the navigation structure. In addition to a sidebar, more sophisticated and perhaps better techniques are possible, but a sidebar is general enough to hold the complete hierarchy and is relatively easy to implement in the DokuWiki context.

Site ID position

With “Site ID”, Krug means the name or logo of the site. In DokuWiki, it is the value of $conf['title'].

In the default DokuWiki template, the Site ID is placed in the top right corner. However, the conventional location is the top left corner. In the present site, that's where it is.

A tagline

A tagline is a short phrase that describes what the site is about. It is placed close to the Site ID, often right next to it. By default, DokuWiki doesn't support this. However, except for some very famous sites, the Site ID in itself is not enough to quickly tell visitors what the site is about. That is the job of the tagline.

I believe that this site's Side ID, “TestWiki”, is correct, but it sounds quite generic. The tagline “My DokuWiki sandbox” probably clarifies a lot about the site's purpose. Of course, people who don't know what DokuWiki is will still be in the dark. Well, you can't do everything with just 3 words!

navigation/issues.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/14 08:17 by jandecaluwe
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