A while ago I wrote an alternative search and navigation interface to InfoWorld.com. The search is broken now because the underlying engine switched from Ultraseek to Google, and nobody has updated the search wrapper. But the navigation piece still works, and while it does, I want to invite some commentary because I’m thinking of doing something similar for another project.
In this model the navigation is metadata-driven, and supports views like:
Every piece of metadata in the tabular display is active, and toggles a filter for that item. This works especially well for the tags, and enables you to cruise through the tagspace in a fluid way. For example, try this progression:
2. Click ‘flash’ to toggle it on
4. Click ‘silverlight’ to toggle it off
The same principle holds for other bits of metadata, like storytype. So for example:
2. Click ‘News’ to toggle it off
4. Click ‘Review’ to toggle it on
6. Click ‘Martin Heller’ to toggle it on
8. Click ‘silverlight’ to toggle it off
It’s powerful to explore things this way, but if I did something like this again, I’d look for ways to make these filter progressions more intuitive and discoverable.
I just don’t think people expect every item to work as a control as well as an information display. And because they don’t, it may be a bad idea to do things that way. Or maybe it’s a good idea that’s still in search of its perfect expression. I’d be curious to know what you think.