The Layout and Navigation of your Disc must be Simple to Understand and Easy to Use!

Make Playing your Discs a Pleasurable Experience...

Ready, Steady, Go!

These concise instructions explain exactly what to do and leave no doubts in your mind. You start immediately you hear the word 'go'. But think how differently it would be if instead of 'go' the starter said 'proceed forward as fast as you can'.

The instruction to commence using your Windows™ software is simply, 'Start'. All title and menu options are short and concise, yet provide an accurate description of their function. When designing the layout and navigation of your CD-ROM or DVD you must try to keep it simple and almost automatic.

You will lose your customers for ever, if you make them confused or uncertain what to do next, how to do it, or where to find the information they need. So, how can you create a good design?


Your Contents Page

The subject matter and contents of an interactive Discs can vary a great deal, and what you include on your main contents page will depend upon them. You may decide to design pictorial contents or a straightforward list.

Example of a Contents SwitchboardYou can also give the user the choice to use either type of navigation, because while some people enjoy the use of colour and images, many others prefer to scan a list and quickly find their way around.

If you are designing a book catalog, your contents page can be a picture of a large bookshop with the various sections clearly marked. When the user clicks on a section, say Mystery, they are given the opportunity to view by Author, Title, or Publisher and the list of titles can be arranged on the left. Click on any title, and a cover picture together with the relevant details can appear on the right.

The illustration is of the main Switchboard for one of our Courses. The student can select the item required for the list of contents, which are in image and text format. With a text version, the main contents page normally contains the section headings, and when the user goes to that section they can see a section-contents page. Alternatively, you can list the section-titles to the left of your page and as the user clicks or hovers on each, the details of that section can appear in the main window.

Your Disc can also include a linked index, which lists every item and feature within the program and allows the user to search and click on any term and be immediately directed to that page. It is also important to allow provide an immediate return to the main contents page with a single click of the mouse. Nothing is more frustrating than having to backtrack, using a time-consuming series of clicks that also may send you in the wrong direction.



Finding The Way Home

Many interactive Discs only allow the user to navigate forwards or backwards and this can mean they will find it difficult to get back to the start of that section, or the main contents page.

It is not usually desirable on a Disc to provide a complete navigation guide on each page, as you find on most Websites, but it is still useful to include the following navigation tools on almost every page:

Previous // Next // Menu // Contents // Quit

  • Previous: Return to the previous page or screen
  • Next: Continue and proceed to the next part
  • Menu: Go up a level to the Section Contents
  • Contents: Go up two levels to the Main Contents
  • Quit: Close the program and quit the session

These instructions can be in a 'hidden' area of the screen, and only pop-up when the cursor hovers over them. Naturally, you can use your own words to suit the CD-ROM and the type of user.

You must also consider that the Disc may be played on a television instead of a computer, which is another reason to include high-quality media. In this instance navigation must be made using the buttons on a standard video remote control.



Your Help Section

You may have been working on your interactive Disc project for weeks or even months, and you will know your way around every nook and cranny. It is all too easy to forget that somebody using it for the first time will know nothing about it.

You must have a Help section that contains answers to the obvious and simple questions as well as the more difficult things to understand. If your CD-ROM or DVD is quite complex, you may be advised to provide access to the Help section on your main navigation bar.

Don't worry about having too much in your Help section...nobody ever complains about that, but you'll get a lot of complaints if you miss something out. Especially if it is something important.


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