Date of Award

Spring 1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Professional and Technical Communication - (M.S.)

Department

Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Nancy Coppola

Second Advisor

Norbert Elliot

Third Advisor

Ajaz A. Rana

Fourth Advisor

Michael Bieber

Abstract

One type of hypertext application, information retrieval, has become increasingly popular and accessible due to the explosion of activity occurring on the World Wide Web. These hypertext documents are referred to as web sites. Readers can now access a multitude of web sites and retrieve a wide variety of information.

The uniqueness of a hypertext document centers around the concept that text is broken into an array of non-sequential text chunks, or nodes, which are connected through links. The hypertext reading can be considered an interactive experience requiring the reader to effectively navigate the document. The potentially complex link and node structure awaiting hypertext readers can lead them into becoming lost in hyperspace Usable hypertext design will maximize document coherence and minimize readers' cognitive overhead, allowing readers to create an accurate mental model of the hypertext structure. Usability testing is designed to determine how easily the functionality of a particular system can be used, In this case, the system under investigation is New Jersey Institute of Technology's web site. The usability of a hypertext document is affected by design elements which contribute to the content and structure of the hypertext. These design elements include good navigation aids, clear link labels, and consistent page layout.

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