David White and Yee-Yin Choong GE Information Services, Inc. 100 Edison Park Drive, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, USA Email: David.White@geis.ge.com, Yee-Yin.Choong@geis.ge.com.
The World Wide Web (henceforth referred to as the web) is rapidly becoming the preferred method for the dissemination of information by corporations today. Everything from marketing/sales literature to research to product support material is being published on the web. Along with this trend is the increasing presence of electronic commerce (e-commerce) applications on the web. If you include intranets and extranets there is also a large number of legacy and internal corporate applications becoming accessible via a web browser. All this information and all these applications are now just a hyperlink apart.
A user can be browsing marketing literature on the latest consumer product and with just a click on a link they can be interacting with a stock trading system all within the same browser interface. With this blending of what we call web publishing, the presentation of material for informative purposes, and web applications, the interactive manipulation of data that may or may not be persistent, the interface designer is faced with many new challenges.
Traditionally the presentation of published material and applications have been quite distinct and different. Published material relied on information design and graphics design techniques in its presentation to the user whether it was hardcopy or online. Applications relied on human factors and HCI techniques in their presentation and interaction models (while information design and HCI do have some commonality, publishing and applications usually have different constraints and goals).