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Once you have decided how the site's content will be logically organised, you need to decide how this is represented to the user. In order for the user not to get lost, each page must clearly show their current location.

Directly representing the organisation

Often you can represent the user's location in the site based directly on the organisation you came up with. This works well where the site is organised as a hierarchy that doesn't have too many levels.

For example, a site might include reviews of books and CDs. The hierarchy could have two branches (one for books and one for CDs), each of which contains a series of reviews. In this case it would be simple to represent the user's location, requiring only two pieces of information:

Representing a complex organisation

Problems arise when the hierarchy has more levels, or when some more complex organisation was used. Users may not be able to follow a multi-level hierarchy, or may find it tedious. Also, listing the user's position in (for example) a four-level hierarchy may take up too much space on the screen.

In these cases there are several possible solutions, including:

This site displays all hierarchy levels (down to an individual section of a lesson) along the top of a section page. If it were any more complicated, one of the above strategies would probably have to be used.

Your own site

Group exercise

Individually, consider which information needs to be included to give each page a clear location. Do you need to simplify from the underlying structure or not?

Make a list of the information required (probably two or three points). Don't worry about how to display the information; just decide which information needs to be presented to the user on each page.

In the group, briefly discuss each other's lists. Will that information be adequate for users to locate themselves? Is it simple enough for everyone to understand, without requiring people to be too familiar with the individual site?