IA - Practical Approaches

  February 04, 2003  

Interview: Elizabeth Peaslee, VP, Customer Experience, Travelocity

This interesting interview by the folks at Good Experience presents an excellent case for user centered design in the business context. Elizabeth's conclusion is telling, "We'll continue to grow this idea of discipline. Now that we've proven to the organization that there's value in user testing and upfront planning, we'll be doing more of it and getting better at it. The big challenge of the past two years was selling the organization on this whole idea. Now we have to deliver on everything we said we'd deliver by having a focus on customer experience."

Posted by seralat at 08:26 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, User-Centered Design

  January 01, 2003  

The Psychology of Navigation

In this DigitalWeb article, Jesse James Garret discusses the connection between hyperlinks and the image the user has of where those links lead. "Every link makes a promise, but the creators of the link have little control over what that is. The promise exists entirely in the mind of the user. Information architects can hope to influence that image in users’ minds in a way that makes it more likely that what they actually see as a result of clicking the link will make them feel the promise has been fulfilled." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 02:35 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  October 26, 2002  

IA Anything Goes: The myth of User-Centered Information Architecture

"A successful information architect understands the way users access information, but also realizes that there are other variables and important factors that need to be taken into account when doing the job." Okay, so this seems really obvious to me, but apparently it comes as some surprise to some people that considerations other than those purely related to customer tasks and goals are involved in the decisions about how web applications are designed. In any event, Jeff Lash's Digital Web article should disabuse you of this particular belief. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 09:45 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Commentary & Criticism, IA - Practical Approaches
Creating personas for information-rich websites

Rashmi Sinha proposes a statistical approach to developing personas for IA work. "I am developing a persona creation method that is similar in spirit to card-sorting in conjunction with cluster analysis. As with card-sorting, the persona creation method gets some user input and subjects it to exploratory statistical techniques to find patterns. It looks for patterns of user needs to build user archetypes." Read the details of the approach... Read commentary about the approach...

Posted by seralat at 08:29 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  October 14, 2002  

An interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design

This Digital Web interview is an excellent introduction to baseline topics in user-centered design and issues relevant to information architecture. The interviewees are Peter Merholz, of Peterme fame, and Nathan Shedroff, an old hand (who's probably younger than me) at the business, talk about subjects including understanding UCD, the business of UCD, and the Process of UCD. Read the interview...

Posted by seralat at 08:58 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, User-Centered Design

  September 29, 2002  

Cooper and Personas

UIE has had two recent articles addressing the issue of personas in web site development, one an interview with Cooper's Kim Goodwin, and the other a short article, Getting from Research to Personas: Harnessing the Power of Data, by the very same Kim Goodwin. Both of these provide some very good information about the creation and usage of personas.

Posted by seralat at 08:41 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  September 12, 2002  

Extreme Programming and User-Centered Design

Three recent articles in UsabilityNews address the relationship between extreme programming (XP) and user-centered design, providing a kind of point-counterpoint-point on the issue.

  • "DIS 2002: Xtreme Programming makes Good Partner to User-Centred Design," was a short UN news piece describing how "a team from Xerox PARC showed the audience at the Designing Interactive Systems 2002 conference that XP and UCD can be complementary."
  • "Response: Why XP and UX have Something in Common," presented a different take on the subject from George Olsen, who argues that the XP approach should be separated from the "Big UpFront Design" that UCD requires because XP deals not with interface issues but with functionality.
  • "Response: The Nature of XP," is a response to George Olsen's article by William Petri, in which he argues that the nature of XP, its iterative development cycle and requirement to satisfy client-defined tests makes XP an excellent complement to UCD.

Posted by seralat at 03:05 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, User-Centered Design

  August 27, 2002  

An interview with Jeffrey Veen and Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path

This interview by Digital Web covers topics including the definition of information architecture, overall design concepts and how IA relates to usability, and Adaptive Path as a business. Read the interview...

Posted by seralat at 10:50 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Definitions, IA - Practical Approaches, Usability

  August 14, 2002  

Selecting IA Components

In December 2001, Louis Rosenfeld proposed developing an approach to selecting appropriate functional components for particular websites. His initial approach is detailed in a blog entry from that date, and follow-up commentary fleshes out the idea somewhat. Read the blog entry...

Posted by seralat at 10:24 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  August 13, 2002  

Structured Selection with a Multi-Modal Extended Selection List

"Abstract: The design of a special-purpose selection list is reviewed. As part of a performance-support application for classroom teachers, a means was needed for rapid selection from a large number of alternative words. By taking into account the inherent structure of the terms in the list, instead of treating it as a simple list of unspecified objects, a more efficient and more easily used design was achieved. By incorporating the structure of the alternatives, the design was also able to reflect and support best practices in classroom lesson planning." A design study from Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd. with an interesting approach to providing selections from large lists. Read the design study...

Posted by seralat at 10:25 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Words Drive Action: An Interview with Gerry McGovern

This interview by UIE with content management expert Gerry McGovern demonstrates the close connection between information architecture and content management. "There are two core elements in a publishing strategy. The first is defining your publishing processes. The core publishing processes are: create, edit, and publish. The second core element is your information architecture, which focuses on how you organize and lay out the content you publish." Read the interview...

Posted by seralat at 10:16 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  August 01, 2002  

IA Case Studies and Whitepapers

Following up on an earlier message (referenced here) to SIGIA-L, Jeff Lash posted some pointers to IA case studies and whitepapers available from the IAWiki.

Posted by seralat at 09:09 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  July 26, 2002  

IA Case Studies

Christina Wodtke posted this list of IA case studies on the SIGIA-L list a few weeks ago.

Posted by seralat at 12:26 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  July 09, 2002  

Using Flowmaps in a Team: Steps to Increasing Their Effectiveness

Erin Malone's presentation on flowmaps from ASIS&T's 2002 Information Architect Summit. See the presentation [Powerpoint format]...

Posted by seralat at 02:45 PM | Permalink
Filed in: Development Methodologies, IA - Practical Approaches
Location, Path & Attribute Breadcrumbs

Keith Instone's informative work on issues related to "breadcrumbing" location, path and attribute information within an application. Read the articles...

Posted by seralat at 02:37 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Documentation Examples from Dan Brown's Portfolio

An interesting series of documentation samples from the portfolio of Information Architect Dan Brown. See the portfolio...

Posted by seralat at 02:30 PM | Permalink
Filed in: Development Methodologies, IA - Practical Approaches, Notational Systems
Reconciling market segments and personas

A Feb. 2002 article by Elaine Brechin in the Cooper Interactive Design Newsletter, "Market segmentation and personas are two different techniques that are often perceived as conflicting methods, but they are actually complementary tools that organizations can use to design and sell successful products." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 10:47 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  July 03, 2002  

An XML Framework for Coordinating Creative and Technical Design

From Gordon Bennet of Intranet Journal, "In this article, we'll look at the cultural clash between three groups often involved in Web projects: front-end developers, information architects and visual designers. Then I'll describe an XML-based framework I used successfully to expedite production of a 600-page commercial Web site. " Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 03:07 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, XML

  July 01, 2002  

You Think Tomaytoes, I Think Tomahtoes

From an April 1999 article in CIO Web Business Magazine by Peter Fabris, "Reader ROI: BUILDING AN INTRANET requires getting a firm grip on how users think about information. Readers will learn how to ... Analyze what users want ... [and] Deliver information the way users want it." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 09:56 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, Intranet

  June 30, 2002  

A Project Management Glossary

From Martin Burns via, "Project Managers have a large part to play in what work you'll have to do, when you'll have to do it by, and whether you get paid. So it's pretty useful to gain credibility with them - and other stakeholders you meet - by understanding their language, and even using it on occasion." Read the glossary...

Posted by seralat at 09:16 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, IA - Resource Collections
Them Changes: Maintaining Sanity When Clients Change Spec

A List Apart article by Julia Hayden. "MANAGING SCOPE CREEP is about more than saying “No” to the client. Simply saying “No” isn’t enough. You need to manage product change. The alternatives are simply too hairy. I recommend starting early – before the contract is even signed. That contract, or an accompanying document, will identify deadlines, costs, and number of resources." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 08:59 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  June 26, 2002  

A Quiz Designed to Give You Fitts

A February 1999 Ask Tog column that highlights the importance of Fitts Law ("The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target. ") [Google search on "Fitts Law"], "So you think you are an interaction designer? Not if you cannot answer all the following questions quickly and with authority.... If you're not an interaction designer, but you know one—or you are thinking of hiring one—slip them just the questions, and see how well they do. I've used variations of this quiz for years during the interview process to good effect." Read the column...

Posted by seralat at 02:41 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, Interface Design & Layout, Usability

  June 25, 2002  

Cross-cultural Web Site Design

This article by E.F. Sheridan for Multilingual Computing and Technology, is subtitled, "Considerations for developing and strategies for validating locale appropriate on-line content," and contains some quite good commentary on the subject. If you need ammunition next time you have to talk about this subject with a client, this is a good one. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 05:46 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  June 17, 2002  

Plotting Your Course to Successful Navigation

From a 15 September 2000 article by David Hauslib for WebReview, "The fundamental idea behind a site is usability. A successful navigation system can be both the cause and effect of a well-structured Web architecture. By categorizing information and ideas, not only will the team behind the Web site find it easier to add content and make changes, but users will be able to manipulate the pages they meander through in any way they choose." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 06:56 PM | Permalink
Filed in: E-Commerce, IA - Practical Approaches
Talking structure

From Zeldman comes this October 2000 column for Adobe, "Web design is communication. It says specific things to specific people. It does this by offering meaningful content in the context of focused digital architecture. Navigation and interface are the doors to that architecture. " Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 04:47 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  June 15, 2002  

Implementing Information Across Your Site

"Having trouble organizing your site information effectively? Well, first you need to know how to match your site's goals with the user. Then, you can apply a variety of techniques to ensure that your usability improves." A fairly basic article by Karuna Kapoor and Ved Bhusan Sen from a 19 January 2001, Webreview article. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 10:41 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  June 14, 2002  

UI Patterns and Techniques

Updated "Each of these patterns (which are more general) and techniques (more specific) are intended to help you solve design problems. They're common problems, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel every time you need, say, a sortable table -- plenty of folks have already done it, and learned how to do it well. Some of that knowledge is written up here, in an easily-digestible format." This is a May 2002 update to an older project (1999) by Jenifer Tidwell. Visit the website...

From the original May 1999 article, "Common Ground: A Pattern Language for Human-Computer Interface Design," by MIT alumna Jenifer Tidwell. "In recent years, parts of the software engineering community have enthusiastically embraced the patterns concept, due in no small part to the 1995 book Design Patterns, by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides. Like the Alexandrian patterns, these patterns of object-oriented software provide design solutions that are concrete enough to immediately put into practice, with good results, and yet are sufficiently abstract to apply to countless situations, limited only by the imagination and skill of the pattern user. " Read the original article...

Posted by seralat at 11:21 AM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, IA - Tools & Software, Notational Systems

  June 13, 2002  

Why Primary Navigation Must Die

By Kristoffer Bohmann, "Primary navigation bars provide shortcuts to main sections on a website and is displayed on most or all pages. I argue that primary navigation bars should be removed completely for three reasons: Navbar links are rarely needed, they are often hard to interpret for users, and they take up valuable space in page top/left side on all pages." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 09:21 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Recipe for a Successful Website

By Nathan Shedroff "Listen up, this one's a no-brainer. Building a successful website is as simple as an Easy-Bake Oven™. Although it's a lot of hard work, it isn't very difficult to understand. The directions are clear. Here's the list of ingredients-and there are only six: Content[,] Information Design[,] Performance[,] Compatibility[,] Visual Design[,] Interaction Design." Read the recipe...

Posted by seralat at 09:17 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Why information architecture matters

From Info.Design, this is their promo explanation. "It's so simple, really. With information architecture comes improved performance. And improved performance matters to users, organizations, and society as a whole." Read the rest...

Posted by seralat at 09:12 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
The Intersection of Information Architecture and Usability

A Webword interview with Alison J. Head. "Q: How do you define Information Architecture (IA)? Why is it special? In a few words, what does it impact? A: A good place to start. This is a question that comes up more and more in my work as a usability expert. Fundamentally, IA is about creating navigational and organizational structures that put users in touch with the information they need, when they want it. From a usability point of view, I define five key components that make up the field of IA. They are: 1) organization, 2) content, 3) labeling, 4) navigation, and 5) search. An information architect's typical deliverables (blueprints, wireframes, metadata, thesauri, and vocabularies) are highly valuable and can have great impact at making the Web the kind of useful and workable information retrieval space that most Web users only dream about." Read the interview...

Posted by seralat at 09:01 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, Usability
Information Architecture Glossary

By Kat Hagedorn, formerly of Argus Associates, "This [March 2000] glossary is intended to foster development of a shared vocabulary within the new and rapidly evolving field of information architecture. It should serve as a valuable reference for anyone involved with or interested in the design of information architectures for web sites, intranets and other information systems." See the glossary...

Posted by seralat at 08:56 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches

  June 12, 2002  

Evaluating Information Architecture: A Practical Guide to Assessing Web Site Organization

A November 2000 Argus white paper by Steve Toub, "This white paper explores the why's, what's, and how's of evaluating a web site's information architecture. It aims to raise consciousness about the evaluation of IA and to provide: Web site owners and other decision-makers with an understanding of evaluation issues; and Information architects with a synthesis of evaluation techniques." Read the white paper...

Posted by seralat at 06:05 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
The Art of Topless Dancing and Information Design

"Over the years, I've found different ways to describe what I do as an information designer. I explain that my job is to make content experts look good, make their voices smoother, their words come alive with technology. I connect the dots they forgot to. I'm tofu. I'll take on whatever flavor they cook me in. I'm a guide, sometimes a muse. I learn enough about their subject to fake it. Like a bathtub, I fill up with whatever facts I need to get the job done. Then I drain, leaving a soap-ring of knowledge." Written by Denice Warren and brought to you by the nice folks at A List Apart. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 05:45 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
A visual vocabulary for describing information architecture and interaction design

From Jesse James Garrett, "Diagrams are an essential tool for communicating information architecture and interaction design in Web development teams. This document discusses the considerations in development of such diagrams, outlines a basic symbology for diagramming information architecture and interaction design concepts, and provides guidelines for the use of these elements."

Although I don't use Jesse's symbols myself, the article is very useful and Jesse has made his symbol set available in a wide variety of formats. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 05:29 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches, Notational Systems

  June 11, 2002  

Make Way for Interactive Assistance

By Craig Marion, "This paper is an attempt to map the current landscape of techniques used to provide online user assistance. I've drawn them together and categorized them so that they can be assessed in terms of their effectiveness, used to their greatest advantage, and contribute to the development of new and better techniques." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 03:46 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design

By Nathan Shedroff, "Many people create or engineer interactions, presentations, and experiences for others. Almost all interactions--whether part of a book, a directory, a catalog, a newspaper, or a television program--can be created or addressed by one process. This process can be used to produce every CD-ROM, kiosk, presentation, game, and online service. It can also be used for every dance, music, comedy, or theater performance. While the traditions and technologies may change with every discipline, the process does not." This is a chapter from the book Information Design, edited by Robert E. Jacobson. Read the chapter...

Posted by seralat at 03:38 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Physical, Cognitive, and Affective: A Three-Part Framework for Information Design

By Saul Carliner, "This special issue of Technical Communication is intended to show applications of information design to technical communication. This article is presents a framework of thinking—a model of sorts—of information design. This framework focuses on design in a broad sense and considers not only at the physical design of a communication product, but also at its cognitive and affective design, as well as the business constraints affecting the design. This article first offers a definition of information design, then presents a model that explores design from three perspectives of interest: physical, cognitive, and affective. Last, this article suggests the limits and strengths of the framework being proposed." Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 03:25 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Painless Functional Specifications

From Joel on Software, and written in October 2000, this four part series is a good look at the basics of creating functional specifications, something that most IAs should know at least a little bit about. As Joel says, "The most important function of a spec is to design the program. Even if you are working on code all by yourself, and you write a spec solely for your own benefit, the act of writing the spec -- describing how the program works in minute detail -- will force you to actually design the program."
»Part 1: Why Bother?
»Part 2: What's a Spec?
»Part 3: But... How?
»Part 4: Tips

Posted by seralat at 03:19 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
Conceptual User Interface: A New Tool for Designing E-Commerce User Interfaces

"Customers wanted us to design their highly interactive e-commerce Web sites very quickly. But the Web user interface design tools we were using were too slow. iXL developed a new tool, called a Conceptual User Interface (CUI), that allowed us to quickly and iteratively design interactive Web user interfaces in a shorter period of time. To improve quality and efficiency, we used the CUI with other design steps and tools." By Lawrence J. Najjar.

Of course, iXL isn't around as such anymore, and the successor probably doesn't use this approach, but it's worth taking a look at, if only to provoke some thought. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 12:22 PM | Permalink
Filed in: Development Methodologies, IA - Practical Approaches
The Art of Information Architecture

"There are many factors in a quality Web site Design, development, creativity, writing, color balance, and organization are all contributors, but careful planning is what makes or breaks the site. The old adage 'It'll come out in the wash' rarely works in practice. Lack of planning usually results in unorganized material and plenty of headaches along the way.

Information Architecture is the practice of designing the infrastructure of a Web site, specifically the navigation."

By Aaron West via iBoost. There's no date on the article, but I believe this is from early 2001 or late 2000. Read the article...

Posted by seralat at 12:14 PM | Permalink
Filed in: IA - Practical Approaches
IBM Ease of Use/Web Design Guidelines

"This information is most valuable for novice and intermediate level Web designers, but contains tips and other information that may be useful to more experienced designers. As we continue our research and add more information to these guidelines, we hope to make them increasingly useful to experienced designers." The information is broken out into the following main topics: Planning, Design, Production, Maintenance, E-Commerce Topics, Bibliography. This kind of information from IBM is usually quite good. Visit the website...

Posted by seralat at 12:05 PM | Permalink
Filed in: Development Methodologies, IA - Practical Approaches