HTML and CSS Reference
Context generally is easy to figure out in a linear structure simply because there are so
few places to go.
A linear organization is rigid and limits your visitors' freedom to explore and your free-
dom to present information. Linear structures are good for putting material online when
the information also has a linear structure offline (such as short stories, step-by-step
instructions, or computer-based training), or when you explicitly want to prevent your
visitors from skipping around.
For example, consider teaching someone how to make cheese by using the Web. Cheese
making is a complex process involving several steps that must be followed in a specific
Describing this process using web pages lends itself to a linear structure rather well.
When navigating a set of web pages on this subject, you'd start with the home page,
which might have a summary or an overview of the steps to follow. Then, by using the
link for going forward, move on to the first step, Choosing the Right Milk; to the next
step, Setting and Curdling the Milk; all the way through to the last step, Curing and
Ripening the Cheese. If you need to review at any time, you could use the link for mov-
ing backward. Because the process is so linear, you would have little need for links that
branch off from the main stem or links that join together different steps in the process.
The linear navigation style is most commonly seen with long arti-
cles on newspaper and magazine websites. The articles are often
split into multiple pages, and navigation is provided to make it
easy to move through the pages of the article sequentially.
Linear with Alternatives
You can soften the rigidity of a linear structure by enabling the visitors to deviate from
the main path. You could, for example, have a linear structure with alternatives that
branch out from a single point (see Figure 2.8). The offshoots can then rejoin the main
branch at some point farther down, or they can continue down their separate tracks until
they each come to an end.