A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Lash, Jeff

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The Age of Information Architecture

For the most part, information architects are communicators and strategists. While others merely tolerated the mishmash of responsibilities, they relished it. Designers often put up with having to write HTML but jumped at the chance to 'just do design.' Programmers were forced to meet with clients and work on strategy, but all along probably wanted to just write code. When these two ends of the spectrum split off, the empty middle was a perfect place to be. At the same time, there was an increased (but still hidden) need for information architecture. As the average web project process matured, more problems arose. Formal documentation was needed, business objectives were taking on increased importance, and, as the size increased exponentially, information organization became a much more important role. (The fact that this evolution took place during the 'dot.com fallout' is not insignificant, as this led to the placement of web projects under the same microscope as other business endeavors.) Some of these positions could be filled by existing disciplines; project managers, business analysts, and usability specialists transitioned from 'traditional' work and were added to web teams. Still, there was something missing. The connection between 'the big picture' (business strategy, high-level user tasks, basic structural architecture) and the nitty-gritty (categorization, labeling, bottom-up information hierarchies) often wasn't being made. This is where information architects fit in.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Information Design>Usability


How Did You Get Here?

One of the most overlooked aspects of designing a Web site is how users get to it. Separate factions are often devoted to promoting, designing, and maintaining a Web site, and the lack of communication and involvement can lead to apathy or confusion. Too frequently is it assumed that visitors are knowledgeable about the company and Web site, and that they enter through the home page. False assumptions about visitor entry can plague even a well-planned, well-designed site.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2003). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Centered Design


Information Architecture is Not Usability

The distinction between information architecture and usability may seem like semantics, but there are significant differences between the two disciplines. Though they are often discussed interchangeably, and practitioners are often well-versed in both, information architecture and usability differ in their scope and areas of focus.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Information Design>Usability>Semantic


Intranet Design Annual: The Ten Best Intranets of 2001

The Nielsen Normal Group report 'Intranet Design Annual: The Ten Best Intranets of 2001' is a worthwhile look into successful intranets that would otherwise not be available to the general public. It is a valuable guide for anyone (not just specialists) involved in intranet design and development.

Lash, Jeff. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>Intranets


Review: Making the Web Work: Designing Effective Web Applications

Those new to the field of user-centered design will find this book most useful; intermediate or advanced practitioners looking for in-depth information specific to web applications may want to look elsewhere.

Lash, Jeff. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Resources>Reviews>Information Design


Persuasive Navigation

Persuasive navigation is navigation that persuades a user to do something. That something can be anything that you want the user to do—buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, or download a game. By understanding user needs and matching them up with business goals, you can persuade users to go where you want them to go, making them happy at the same time.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design>Persuasive Design


Removing the Ws from URLs

In September 1999, John Rhodes published Are You Creating a Path of Resistance? on WebWord. In the article, John discussed the problem with the Ws - the www prefix before domain names. John rightly recommended that all web sites should be set up to work the same with or without the Ws. In this article, however, I will go one step further and recommend that sites should be set up to work with or without the Ws, but also have the Ws automatically removed from the URL using a server-side technique I will henceforth refer to as 'removing the Ws'. I will detail why I feel this is a more appropriate solution and explain how this can be done.

Lash, Jeff. WebWord (2002). Design>Web Design>Usability


Three Approaches to Intranet Strategy

Every intranet is different, and every section of a company’s Intranet can be used differently. There are a number of different methods to how an Intranet can be used to benefit a company. However, the three most popular and most valuable are knowledge management, collaboration and communication, and task management.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2003). Articles>Web Design>Management>Intranets


Three Ways to Improve External Search Engine Usability

In web log analysis, two things are often missed. First, how the link to your site is presented in the results is critical. Next, what are visitors experiencing once they select that link? Many sites spend significant resources ensuring high placement in search engines, but usually little effort is spent on designing how those results are displayed and whether the pages they point to will help the visitor achieve their goal. With on-site search engines, it is easy to control the way results are presented to visitors, provide similar search suggestions, and ensure that the results are relevant and helpful. This is more difficult with external search engines, but not impossible. Here are some thoughts as to how to evaluate the usability of results on search engines and improve their effectiveness and relevance.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Design>Web Design>Search>Usability


Transitioning from User Experience to Product Management: Part 1

Is there a smart and graceful way to transition into a product manager role? Chris Baum and Jeff Lash talk about the differences between product management and design and increasing your influence.

Lash, Jeff and Chris Baum. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>User Experience>Project Management


Transitioning from User Experience to Product Management: Part 2

What will you need to leave behind to enter the wine-and-roses world of Product Management? In Part 2 of this series, Jeff Lash and Chris Baum give us a preview of what's in store for your new role and give us tips on how to prepare.

Lash, Jeff and Chris Baum. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>User Experience>Project Management


A User-Centered Approach to Selling Information Architecture

One of the most popular topics for discussion among those practicing Information Architecture is “selling IA.” There is a constant struggle to show the value and benefits of including information architecture techniques on a project. The most common approach to selling IA involves introducing the basic concepts, along with explanations and examples of what deliverables are produced, and some discussion of the benefits. At that point, usually the client will comment, or ask about how these procedures can fit in to a specific project. This is antithetical to the mantra of user-centered design, which says that the needs of the user should be understood before the design begins. How can one design a sales approach before understanding the needs of the client? The proper approach should be to figure out what the goals and needs of the client are before ever starting to try and sell Information Architecture as a possible solution.

Lash, Jeff. Digital Web Magazine. Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design


Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

'Experience design' doesn't just apply to online design. Paco Underhill's 'Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping' explores customer experience and consumer behavior as they affect retail and offline environments and in turn provides dozens of lessons for those in web development.

Lash, Jeff. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>E Commerce

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