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Context

Scenario development helps us envision the objects and actions needed for design. Context is the relationship of these objects and actions to each other and to their environments. “The weaving together of parts into a coherent whole” describes the object's relationship to other objects. This is an important sense of context in Web design because it addresses the issue of how information should be organized. For example, it determines the placement on a Web page of a label relative to a field or a header to text—that is, the spatial placement of objects that are semantically close (similar in meaning) to each other.

A second essential way in which to define the context of an object for Web site design is to view context as “that which surrounds the object.” In this sense, context can be either cognitive or physical. For example, cognitively, the context of a word is a function of the sentence containing the word. An example of physical context is a book on a shelf of books in the library. The other books and the library are both contexts in that they surround the target book. As we will see in Chapter 3, the union of physical and cognitive contexts is quite important to Web design.


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