Goal: Complete institutional coverage with respect to organization and functions as provided at the closest possible point of knowledge.
Only with participation can a comprehensive web be built. NetPaths.net works within the framework of cooperation, independent development, and responsibility to our clients. Owners, or knowers, of the information best serve as the providers of the information.
Goal: Accuracy of static information enhanced by the currentness of changing information.
Accuracy results from responsibility. No right-thinking information provider intentionally provides inaccurate information. As a result, over the short-term, the provision of accurate static information is a direct product of motivation to participate on the Web. Currentness of changing information, however, over the long-term, requires continued responsibility, fueled by demand for up-to-date information by the viewing audience.
Goal: Responsiveness to requests from the viewing audience.
An e-mail address on a homepage creates a human connection between the viewing audience and the information providers. The e-mail received is answered promptly by the recipients of the mail. If the same information request is received with some frequency, the group takes action.
Clarity over Coolness
Goal: Simplicity of page design and directness of hyperlink pathways take precedence over visual techniques that clutter or compromise presentation.
A hierarchical arrangement of information elements has its place, even in the chaotic sea of information accessible on the Web. Generic categories of information are presented on the first-tier page (the "home" page) with specific items related to each generic category presented on the second-tier pages. Graphical elements on the first-tier page complement those on the second-tier pages. Superfluous images, animated or otherwise, are kept to a minimum on these first- and second-tier pages. We hope to lead by example that form still follows function.
Courtesy over Coolness
Goal: The length of time required for a page to load useful information is reasonable.
Courtesy is similar to but different enough from clarity that it warrants special consideration. Inline images enhance the initial presentation, but can significantly slow down the display of the page. The adage "form follows function" is now "form follows function as a function of time." The size of pages, as well as images and other presentation enhancements, is both dimensional size (width and height) and file size (bytes). A good presentation can be seen negatively by the viewing audience if the time for the page to appear is too long. Of course, "too long" is a relative time-frame. A 10-second or less load-time is ideal, up to 30 seconds is acceptable, up to 60 seconds is questionable, and more than 60 seconds is not generally acceptable. These times are based on the current high-speed modem access lines from an Internet Service Provider.
Compatibility without Compromise
Goal: Sensitivity to and support of different browser environments.
A delicate balance between sophistication and commonality is a challenge, not an obstacle. Information is packaged in the most universal way. If sophisticated techniques are required, including visual techniques which are not suitable for image-disabled and text-only software/browsers, every effort is made to accommodate the less sophisticated software/browser through alternative views. However, these alternative views are presented to the software/browser without obligating the viewing audience to choose between a "text-only" or "graphics" presentation.
Cross-Linking and Validation
Goal: Multiple access paths to the same information with a method in place to check the validity of site-wide links.
Multiple links to the same page increase discovery success, allowing the same information to be repackaged for presentation to different viewing audiences. Restraint, however, is exercised. Gratuitous links can undermine hierarchy and structure. Different labels (or "anchors") for the same page can be misleading. While different labels are sometimes a natural consequence of the context in which the reference to a page is made, it can mislead the viewing audience to follow a previously visited link (even if the software/browser being used indicates previously visited links). The accuracy of links is determined by vigilance, feedback from the viewing audience, and site-scanning software. Invalid links undermine credibility, which can only be restored by timely repairs to such links.