Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Page Layouts and Navigation

Here's the news - I have just converted one of my guidebooks, Eastern Washington, to a new format. I think it works pretty well - let me know what you think - dbain@VirtualGuidebooks.com.

When I first devised the Virtual Guidebooks site, in January 2000, there were two versions of each panorama, small and large. But technology changes fast, and the former "large" size is now my standard size. With a little coaching from Hans Nyberg (see his site Panoramas.dk) I prepared one of my panoramas to be his "fullscreen of the week". This was At the foot of Mount Whitney, to be followed by White Sands, New Mexico, and the Olympic rain forest on the Queets River. I agree with Hans that the fullscreens seem like a totally different graphic to most people, compared to small panos in context on a page.

So I began to make fullscreen versions of all my high resolution, digital camera panos. By 2004 I had fullscreens ready for a majority of my work, so I added them to almost every part of the Virtual Guidebooks site.

The problem with adding the fullscreens was that it disrupted my carefully worked out navigation. You could do a Previous-Next tour at the guidebook, locality, and standard size panorama level. But fullscreens have no place for my standard navigation bar, plus they open in a new window. It works pretty well - when you close a fullscreen window you are back where you started, the original window was just hidden underneath the fullscreen. But the asymmetry bothered me. And I never satisfactorally resolved the problem of navigation back and forth between the locality pages for standard size and fullscreen size. Also I had made larger thumbnails for the fullscreen versions, and they made the small old ones look pretty pathetic.

So I decided to have just one series of locality pages, using the large thumbnails, with links to both the standard and fullscreen panos. Both types of panos open in similar fullscreen windows. It is simpler, more consistent, and I think easier to browse than the old system. If I continue to like it I will gradually convert the entire site to this new plan.

1 comment:

R said...

Don,

I like the use of the larger thumbnail. Especially since a majority of people I believe now use 1024x768 desktops.

Thanks for all the panoramic views that help us get the visual insight into areas we may want to visit.

richard