Context: The artifact is large or complex, and allows
the user to move freely through it. Navigable
Spaces is a common pattern to find this in, as is Narrative.
The "bookmarks" or "hotlist" feature on a Web browser
Actual bookmarks in a book
Problem: How can the artifact support the user's
need to navigate through it in ways not directly supported by the artifact's
Solution: Let the user make a record of their points of interest,
so that they can easily go back to them later. The user should be
able to label them however they want, since users are in a better position
to choose labels that are memorable to them (see also User's
Annotations). Support at least an ordered linear organization,
so that a user can rank them according to whatever criteria they choose;
if possible, support a grouping structure of some kind. Save the
bookmarks for later use.
A user may want to keep track of the places that are most interesting or
most useful, for future reference.
A user may need to temporarily stop using the artifact, but with the intention
of coming back later to pick up where they left off.
A user in "browse mode" may quickly visit a place, decide it's worth coming
back to later, and keep going in a different direction; they need to keep
track of where they want to return.
A user may only be able to be in one place at a time, but want to switch
between two or more places at once, perhaps because they want to compare
Users get a sense of ownership and control over the artifact when they
can modify it to suit their needs.
Resulting Context: You can use Editable
Collection as a way to let the user modify the set of bookmarks.
If the user can group them (e.g. Small
Groups of Related Things) or categorize them, consider showing them
as a Hierarchical Set. Remembered
State can be used as a mechanism for saving the bookmarks.
Bookmarks can serve well as a set of user-defined Clear
Entry Points to a large artifact. If you provide a complex enough
organizing principle for them, then someone who uses bookmarks extensively
may develop something approaching a customized Map
of Navigable Spaces. This is good, because that user has now
completely adapted their surroundings to their unique way of working.
Jakob Nielsen points out in his May
1, 1997Alertbox column that a user may use bookmarks to make their
own "map" of the site, and not use the one provided for the site -- this
may cause trouble for the designers of the site, who can no longer assume
that a user has entered a site by one single prescribed path.
Notes: The name of this pattern is stolen shamelessly
from Netscape Navigator. It seemed to fit better than any other name
I could think of.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified May 17, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999 by Jenifer Tidwell. All rights reserved.