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Dropping Graphical Navigation Buttons

Smaller (byte count) graphical navigation buttons were tried. The resulting appearance was not satisfactory and using them required other design compromises. Further numerous web server log entries were generated from the navigation button links. These problems were eliminated by replacing the graphical navigation buttons with text links. Review the site design as it existed at the time this page was written.

At this point, even I'm curious how long it will be until I change the site design again though this seems like a fairly logical conclusion right now. (It was about three months.) All the problems that I discussed on the previous page simply disappear completely when graphical navigation buttons are discarded entirely. There's no longer a series of compromises and tradeoffs. Size doesn't drop by 30% or 60%; it simply goes away. There's no second guessing how any browser will handle the ALT tags because there are no ALT tags. There's no text versus graphics mode because there's only text to deal with.

It's obvious I can change the color of the link text just as easily as changing the graphics that are pointed to. It took about a half hour of experimenting with colors and spacing on a static HTML page to get what looked right. At one point I tried square brackets around the links but decided that was simply pointless clutter. Once I had one page looking the way I wanted, it took about 15 minutes to modify the script. There were a few more minutes running it in the root directory and working out a couple of minor bugs such as an extra non breaking space that caused odd spacing between the two lines of links. Once I decided to discard the graphical navigation buttons, within an hour the entire site had been converted.

Interestingly the actual trigger had little to do with the page design itself. I looked at my server logs for the first time and found that just from my own testing on my workstation site, the larger daily log files were nearly a megabyte in size. A quick look revealed it was almost all GETs on .gif files which meant a significant amount of extra work excluding all the successful retrievals of numerous .gif files before meaningful page counts could be achieved. There are still several graphics per page which will need to be dealt with but not nearly as many.

Since the sole purpose of graphical navigation buttons is esthetics and I was bothered by the visual size of the newest buttons from the begining, why not just make a whole set of problems go away.

This current design can be browsed in 430 pixel wide browser window before horizontal scroll bars appear. At that point the text column is already too narrow be practical.

Once I had white links, with the current area highlighted in red, the pale blue background seemed more out of place. This may be due to the fact that the table / content background is no longer separated from the white button text by the red button background. See the previous design for comparison. A little experimentation confirmed that the white background looked better.

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