Certain articles need to provide quick links to a large number of articles in the same document set. For example, we want every HTML element document to provide links to every other HTML element. Similarly, the documentation for each CSS property should offer links to all the other CSS properties.
Exactly how to present these is a question right now. Here we present notes and ideas for the UX team to consider.
When a user is looking at a CSS property or an HTML element (for example; there are probably other places where this applies, such as possibly the interface reference), the odds are high that the next article they want to look at is another element or CSS property. For that reason, it's worthwhile to have quick and obvious access to a list of links to these, to speed their ability to access that information.
We have unanswered questions about this, however.
- What do we do with this area of the page on pages that don't need it?
- Where do we put it?
- Does it need to be always visible or should it be hideable in some way?
We have several ideas that have been proposed for where to put this list.
In the main sidebar
The main sidebar is already used to present the table of contents, edit and history buttons, and other information. We could add this list to that sidebar, either by adding yet another box to the sidebar, or by turning the TOC box into a tabbed box to let you switch between viewing the TOC and the link list. This was our original plan, but has the major drawback of probably overloading the main sidebar with too much content, not to mention more stuff that's only there on select pages.
Our new favored option is to present an additional sidebar on these pages offering the quick link list. This avoids over-cluttering the main sidebar while retaining quick access to the list. The drawbacks here are that it causes the page contents to shift around as you browse based on whether or not the page has one or two sidebars., and it reduces the space available for body content.
This option opens additional questions:
- Could/should this sidebar be collapsible, so users that don't want to see it can hide it? This would also give back screen space while reading.
- Do we just switch to a two-sidebar layout site-wide?
A drop-down menu in the sidebar or page heading area, for example, avoids using a lot of screen space with this list, but is much less discoverable and prevents easy browsing. This is not an option we favor.