Information design (also known as 'information architecture') is the study of the details of complex systems. Among these are websites, user interactions, databases, technical writing documentation, and human-computer interfaces.
I am trying to evangelize the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points. While I’m in the venture capital business, this rule is applicable for any presentation to reach agreement: for example, raising capital, making a sale, forming a partnership, etc.
A case study of a team approach to information architecture at Duke University by graduates of the Duke Continuing Studies Technical Communication Certificate program.
On a Web site or intranet each of the alphabetically arranged entries or subentries is hyperlinked to the page or to an anchor within a page to where the topic is discussed. Since an alphabetical index can be quite long, it is often divided into pages for each letter of the alphabet. Typically, each letter is linked at the top of the page allow a jump to the start of that letter’s section of the index.
Many technical communicators have heard about Computer-aided Acquisition and Logistic Support (CALS), or Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), but some do not understand the concept. This paper introduces CALS, the relationship between CALS and SGML, the structure of SGML, and how SGML affects technical communicators.
What affects decision outcomes most is the actual context in which people make decisions. All kinds of things affect decision making—the type of decision someone is making, the decision maker’s level of expertise, the number of options available, the way and order in which options are presented, and many others. This column examines how the number of available options affects the decision-making process.
The focus of Bentley College's information design programs is the user, addressing universal behaviors (human factors) and task-related behaviors (goal-driven needs). All too often in the past, professional communicators have rushed to design external information products (books, illustrations, online help systems, and the like) to support the information requirements of a system. Increasingly, however, solutions are found much deeper in the system design, a concept we call knowledge-infused design.
Your favorite applications have shortcut keys. So can your site, thanks to the XHTML accesskey attribute. Accesskeys make sites more accessible for people who cannot use a mouse. Unfortunately, almost no designer uses accesskeys, because, unless they View Source, most visitors can’t tell that you’ve put these nifty navigational shortcuts to work on your site. Stuart Robertson unlocks the secret of providing visible accesskey shortcuts.
As published the W3C XML Schema specification references XML 1.0 explicitly, and incorporates by reference certain key definitions, in particular those of the 'Char', 'Name' and 'S' character classes. XML 1.1 changes the contents of these classes, so although nothing in the existing XML Schema specification specifically bars infosets produced by XML 1.1 conformant parsers, such infosets, if they exploit any of the relevant changes in XML 1.1, will not be accepted as valid by conformant XML Schema 1.0 processors.
Rather than exporting a whole document out of Acrobat, I'll focus on a table within a PDF page. Suppose you'd like to have this table's data in a spreadsheet so you can manipulate it. There's no need to retype the data into Excel. All you need to do is use Acrobat's Selection tool to highlight the content you wish to export.
Tabular representations of information can be organized so that the subject distance between adjacent columns is low, bringing related materials together. In cases where data is available on all topics, the subject distance between table columns and rows can be formally shown to be minimized. A variety of Gray codes may be used for ordering tabular rows and columns. Subject features in the Gray code may be ordered so that the coding system used is one that has a lower inter-column subject distance than with many other codes. Methods by which user preferences may be incorporated are described. The system optionally may display unrequested columns of data that are related to requested data.
Technical writers who must maintain complex, delicately interconnected information often look to object-oriented SGML databases as a way of storing, retrieving, reusing, and reassembling the constituent objects of new documents, created on the fly to respond to a particular customer’s needs. The SGML tags help identify structural packages such as procedures, illustrations, or glossary items; in a large database, then, writers can filter out unwanted material, locating only the structural pieces they need for the job in hand. For instance, to produce a quick reference, a writer might pull up the names of procedures and their steps, but not the introductions or explanations. Similarly, a user could search for illustrations only. But illustrations of what? With no subject matter defined, such searches result in hundreds, even tens of thousands of hits. To speed up access to the precise passages wanted, end users and writers need a way to narrow their searches by defining the precise subject matter (the meaning, or semantics) as well as the structural elements they seek.
XSLT stylesheets are designed to transform XML documents. Coupled with Java extensions, stylesheets can also be a powerful complement to XML Schema when grammar-based validation cannot cover all the constraints required. In this article, Peter Heneback presents the case for validating documents using XSLT with Java extensions and provides practical guidance and code samples.
One of the dirty little secrets about being an information architect is that most of us only bat .500 at best. We labor and agonize over making recommendations and designing information architectures that are supposed to change the world, but many of our designs never see the light of day. Rather than moan about why my designs were not implemented, I want to share my story.
The affinity diagram, or KJ method (after its author, Kawakita Jiro), wasn't originally intended for quality management. Nonetheless, it has become one of the most widely used of the Japanese management and planning tools. The affinity diagram was developed to discovering meaningful groups of ideas within a raw list. In doing so, it is important to let the groupings emerge naturally, using the right side of the brain, rather than according to preordained categories.
Whether you're brainstorming ideas, trying to solve a problem or analyzing a situation, when you are dealing with lots of information from a variety of sources, you can end up spending a huge amount of time trying to assimilate all the little bits and pieces. Rather than letting the disjointed information get the better of you, you can use an affinity diagram to help you organize it.
This study seeks to apply ecological psychology's concept of "affordance" to graduate students' information behavior in the academic library, and to explore the extent to which the affordances experienced by graduate students differed from the affordances librarians were attempting to provide.
The final decade of the last century witnessed the dramatic rise of hypertext as a literary, technical, social, and intellectual phenomenon. Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), 'hypertext' remains a relatively peripheral term. In this talk, I'll track some of the ways that 'hypertext' has been articulated during the last five decades, describing how the social construction of hypertext inscribed the technology(ies) in limiting and ultimately self-defeating ways. I'll then attempt to track (and construct) some possible futures for a dramatically redefined hypertext, one constructed as an 'ethic of reference' within and among social communities rather than a technical practice.
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.
Three panellists talk about how they've applied agile development techniques to XML, followed by audience discussion and Q&A: Tony Coates will discuss XML and schema quality assurance using unit test frameworks. David Carver will discuss agile XML schema development. Claudia Lucia Jimenez-Guarin will discuss software construction for evolving systems with incomplete data definition.
AIfIA in het Nederlands is de sectie van de AIfIA website waar we vertalingen van belangrijke teksten over informatie-architectuur (IA) in het Nederlands publiceren. We plaatsen ook nieuws over en hyperlinks naar informatie over IA in het Nederlandse taalgebied. Wij bieden gelegenheid tot interactie in de Nederlandse taal via commentaren op nieuwsberichten en een e-mail rondzendlijst.