Robert Denton

Staggering work of genius from Portland, Maine – Photographer, Designer, Taco Maker, Birder, Biker, Business Owner

On the wiki & navigation

plasticbag.org | weblog | Using Wikis for content management…

Now one of the problems with using Wikis generally is that they don’t lend themselves to the creation of clear sectionalised navigation. Nor do they do naturally find it easy to use graphic design, colour or layout differently on separate pages to communicate either your context or the your location in the site. That’s not to say that Wikis are broken, of course, just that the particularly networked rather than hierarchical model of navigation that they lend themselves towards isn’t suitable for all kinds of public-facing sites (the same could be said of the one-size-fits-all design of the pages). This would clearly be a problem. Wikis sacrifice that kind of functionality on the whole in order to gain advantages in other areas (ie. collaborative site generation and maintainance). Without those advantages, you’d simply be left with an inferior product.

From Roadmap for future wikis | A Whole Lotta Nothing

Navigation is always going to be difficult, as wikis are supposed to be flexible enough to grow in any direction. Consequently, this means you often see a link to absolutely everything on the main home page, which is an information nightmare.

Another great dissection on the wiki roundup site:
Why Wiki Works Not
Some choice quotes:

Spend another 20 minutes here and you’ll see that this wiki is a site map. Navigation couldn’t be any easier. If you stumble upon a link that interests you, click it. If you don’t, type a word in FindPage.

The preceding attitude is another example of why Wiki really works only in a community with plenty of time to spare. Sitemaps are valuable timesavers, especially for finding information hidden at the end of a long chain. When you don’t know the site-specific keywords that represent what you hope to find, typing a word into FindPage is a poor substitute for a menu or sitemap. — LAKen

For someone who prefers the smooth, silky uniformity of the suburban lawn, I suppose Wiki has “failed”. I like lawns and golf-courses too. I like meadows. I like finding a clearing in the midst of the wilderness. Meadows, too, require stewardship and care — even an occasional WikiFire. They don’t, however, generally require regular mowing. — TomStambaugh

They need a damn good fire once in a while, though, Tom. And it leaves them looking ugly and dead for a while too. But they’re not… — WaldenMathews

SnipSnap seems to provide a lot of really, really, sweet stuff out of the box. I wonder if latest revs have conquered the problems DH found with it in his personal use and for course work? I prefer the simplicity (for me at least) of phpwiki. Perhaps it is my limited use of tomcat and other engines but the ability to do this: %cp -R phpwiki /some/path/documentation easily makes a new instance at a new URI. I know server jedi can do this with tomcat and snipsnap but for now I have a hammer and haven’t learnt the other tool. 🙂

Interestingly, Mark has comments that made it to the SnipSnap at the University page that largely focus on IA and the wiki.

I’ll try hard coding a page for the redesign/documentation wiki that serves as some meta-navigation this weekend if I get other work done first.

Posted: 17.04.2004 in DesignTagged , Both comments and pings are currently closed. — RSS 2.0

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