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Information Design

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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.



The Definition of Information Architecture

Is the widespread ignorance of information architecture our fault? Are we really such lousy communicators? What's up?

Morville, Peter. Semantic Studios (2004). Articles>Information Design


Definitions of Information Design

The field of information design applies traditional and evolving design principles to the process of translating complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into valuable, meaningful information. The practice of information design requires an interdisciplinary approach which combines skills in graphic design, writing and editing, instructional design, human performance technology, and human factors.

STC Information Design SIG (2001). Articles>Information Design


Deliverables and Methods: Special Deliverable #8

To date this column has focused on how to make deliverables more effective, either through their content or through the tools to create them. For this issue, I would like to explore the relationship between deliverables and methodology. Unfortunately, this calls for a definition of IA methodology, which may challenge the definition of IA as the hardest question in our field.

Brown, Dan. Boxes and Arrows (2003). Articles>Information Design>Methods


Delivering Dynamic Content   (PDF)

Cisco Systems IOS ITD Documentation group had a requirement to move to the dynamic delivery of documentation to their customers. This meant that the documentation had to be redesigned using a component architecture, moved to XML, and delivered through a personalization engine. This session discusses this process and the results.

Badre, Albert and Sharon Laskowski. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Information Design>XML


Demand Modeling, New Mode Problems, and the $64 [sic] Question: Technological Utopianism in America's Race to Develop High Speed Rail Technology   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article analyzes reports describing a proposed MagLev rail system, reports which employ idiosyncratic rhetorical devices to argue for funding. The analysis discusses ethical and rhetorical dilemmas which face writers seeking funding for 'new mode' problems.

Sauer, Beverly A. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication (1993). Design>Information Design>Assessment


Review: Demolition Derby

I started The Myths of Innovation in a positive frame of mind, generated by my interest in the topic (and the excitement of seeing my photos in print). I ended the book similarly enthusiastic. While it isn't a long read (I started in Cambridge and finished before I touched down in Los Angeles), good books don't need a lot of words to make their point. Scott Berkun clearly presents his arguments, demolishing many of the misconception about innovation. For those of us running businesses or developing new products, it's a must-read.

Robertson, James. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Reviews>Information Design


Demystifying Information Modeling   (PDF)

The information model is a framework for organizing all the information people need.

Hackos, JoAnn T. ComTech Services (2002). Design>Information Design>Project Management>Metadata


Demystifying Metadata

As long as people have been collecting information together, be it in the form of a library, an institutional filing system, a collection of accounting records or whatever, they've needed to come up with ways to help them know how to properly file and retrieve documents. These systems needn't involve any high technology.

Lucas, Marty. Mappa Mundi (1999). Articles>Information Design>Metadata


Describing Document Structure   (PDF)

Discusses some different ways of describing your document structure so that both computers and humans know what you mean.

Tyson, Paul H. Intercom (2003). Design>Information Design>XML>Metadata


Describing Document Structure, Part 2   (PDF)

Discusses some different ways of describing your document structure so that both computers and humans know what you mean.

Tyson, Paul H. Intercom (2003). Design>Information Design>XML>Metadata


Descubriendo el Conocimiento

La Minería de Datos (Data Mining) es un término del que se hablado bastante en los últimos años. Sin embargo es sólo una parte de algo mucho más interesante: el Descubrimiento de Conocimientos o Knowledge Discovery. 

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2002). (Spanish) Articles>Information Design>User Interface


Design and Development of a Concept-Based Multi-Document Summarization System for Research Abstracts   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper describes a new concept-based multi-document summarization system that employs discourse parsing, information extraction and information integration. Dissertation abstracts in the field of sociology were selected as sample documents for this study. The summarization process includes four major steps — (1) parsing dissertation abstracts into five standard sections; (2) extracting research concepts (often operationalized as research variables) and their relationships, the research methods used and the contextual relations from specific sections of the text; (3) integrating similar concepts and relationships across different abstracts; and (4) combining and organizing the different kinds of information using a variable-based framework, and presenting them in an interactive web-based interface. The accuracy of each summarization step was evaluated by comparing the system-generated output against human coding. The user evaluation carried out in the study indicated that the majority of subjects (70%) preferred the concept-based summaries generated using the system to the sentence-based summaries generated using traditional sentence extraction techniques.

Ou, Shiyan, Christopher Soo-Guan and Dion H. Goh. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Information Design>Assessment>Metadata


The Design and Evaluation of Interactivities in a Digital Library

The US National Science Foundation has established a program to create a National Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL). One of the subsidiary NSDL libraries under development is the National Civil Engineering Educational Resources Library (NCERL). The first phase of NCERL is the creation and collection of digital resources in three areas of civil engineering—geotechnical (soil), rock, and water engineering (GROW). The concept of interactivities guides the design, development, and evaluation efforts of the GROW digital collection. This article describes the salient features of GROW, defines and discusses interactivities as an emerging, integral part of teaching and learning in civil engineering education. Interactivities take place at three distinct levels: the information resource, the collection, and the context. Very simply, the concept of interactivities can be defined as the emphasis on structured representations of interactive multimedia resources. Additionally, resources are designed with rich learning tasks and organized in pedagogical collections supplemented with contextual information. Preliminary evaluation of GROW-NCERL using interactivities is briefly described.

Budhu, Muniram and Anita Coleman. D-Lib Magazine (2002). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Multimedia


Design Basics

The design principles presented here combine traditional wisdom with extensions to address the evolution of future interfaces. Existing design principles are based on our own experiences in user interface design, on the design experiences of others, and on insights from linguistics and psychology. We have extended these design principles to address evolving interfaces that will provide a more friendly appearance and behavior in the future. The increasing use of 3-D and real-world representations as well as the blossoming popularity of the Internet and the World Wide Web have strongly influenced these progressions.

IBM (1999). Design>Graphic Design>Information Design


Design Behind the Design

I would like to encourage the community to talk about the need for professional networks within the information architecture field, especially as it relates to creating successful software and information systems. And, I would like to compare our needs in the field of IA with the systems that have been used in other areas to determine if we can develop an appropriate support system in moving towards specialization in our profession.

Evans, Clifton. Boxes and Arrows (2005). Articles>Information Design>Design>Collaboration


Design Considerations for Complex Problem-Solving   (PDF)   (members only)

Information design must go beyond help for simple lookups or providing simple instructions; it must assist in solving complex, real-world problems. This paper helps develop a foundation for design which supports approaches to the complex problem-solving which people use in real-world situations. It considers the dynamic situational context of information, the aspects of the information, and the data interrelationships which the requirements analysis must uncover to support the fundamental user wants and needs.

Albers, Michael J. STC Proceedings (2002). Design>Information Design>User Centered Design


Design for the Sofa

On my flight from Los Angeles to Hamburg I read in the Zeit, a well established German newspaper, that a major TV channel now from time to time displays a small BMW Z3 racing over the screen regardless of the underlying program or commercial. Despite the toy-like character of this idea, being part of a national advertising campaign, it can easily be identified as a 'TV-banner.' Very alien in the first place, not only because of the potential random competitive conflicts, it illustrates to what extent the perception of television has changed, and not only in the US. Taking a closer look at broadcast design one can see the influence of the web aesthetics in many places and can already assume the layer that will be used for graphics on the surface of the screen. Convergence happens not only on a technological level but also in terms of appearance. The idea that the mass-medium broadcast fuses with the web-connected personal computer is commonly referred to as convergence, and is becoming widespread.

Jenett, Daniel. Digital Web Magazine (2000). Design>Information Design>Web Design


Review: Design Is Rocket Science

Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction is cunningly released at a time when acceptance of Interaction Design as a discipline is reaching a critical mass. The book precipitates a huge turn in the creation of interactive technologies toward the more research/creative or human-centric model, approaching the subject of this change from different angles and illuminating historical insights.

Evans, Clifton. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>Reviews>Information Design


Design Issues for Producing Effective Multimedia Presentations   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

When designing multimedia presentations, technical communicators must consider navigational aids and the degree of user control, audio cues, color and typographical elements, visual elements, and copyright issues. Understanding these issues will help us develop guidelines for effective use of multimedia.

Mason, Lisa. Technical Communication Online (1997). Design>Information Design>Multimedia


Design Patterns for Information Architecture with DITA Map Domains

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) provides maps for assembling topics into deliverables. By specializing the map elements, you can define a formal information architecture for your deliverables. This architecture provides guidance to authors on how to organize topics and lets processes recognize your organizing principles, resulting in a consistent, clear experience for your users.

Hennum, Erik, Don Day, John Hunt and Dave Schell. IBM (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Design Patterns for Mobile Faceted Search: Part I

Faceted search is extremely helpful for certain kinds of finding—particularly for ecommerce apps. Unfortunately, the designers of mobile applications do not have established user interface paradigms they can follow or abundant screen real estate for presenting facets and filters in a separate area on the left or at the top of a screen. To implement faceted search on mobile devices, we need to get creative rather than following established Web design patterns. Join me in exploring the Four Corners, Modal Overlay, Watermark, and Refinement Options design patterns for mobile devices. Following these patterns can move us one step closer to making faceted search a usable reality on mobile devices. But first, let’s take a look at the challenges of designing mobile faceted search, which include navigational elements that use up precious screen real estate, limited search-refinement options, and the general lack of an iterative refinement flow.

Nudelman, Greg. UXmatters (2010). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Search


Design Patterns: An Evolutionary Step to Managing Complex Sites

When your organization's web site or intranet has hundreds of contributors, how do you ensure that every page is high quality and extremely usable? Especially, if these contributors have never designed a web page before? This is a problem that many of our clients are facing and they've tried a myriad of solutions, such as centralized approval processes, standardized templates, and style guides, all without success. However, the one solution that really excites us is now gaining a lot of attention -- design patterns.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering. Design>Web Design>Information Design


Design Patterns: Faceted Navigation

Also called guided navigation and faceted search, the faceted navigation model leverages metadata fields and values to provide users with visible options for clarifying and refining queries. Faceted navigation is arguably the most significant search innovation of the past decade. It features an integrated, incremental search and browse experience that lets users begin with a classic keyword search and then scan a list of results.

Morville, Peter and Jeffery Callender. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>Information Design


Design Patterns: Faceted Navigation

Also called guided navigation and faceted search, the faceted navigation model leverages metadata fields and values to provide users with visible options for clarifying and refining queries. Faceted navigation is arguably the most significant search innovation of the past decade. It features an integrated, incremental search and browse experience that lets users begin with a classic keyword search and then scan a list of results.

Morville, Peter and Jeffery Callender. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>Information Design


Designing a Hypermedia Program: Early Planning Stages   (PDF)

The personal computer has had a significant impact on the delivery of educational material. Hypermedia systems give students the ability to explore concepts in innovative ways. Unfortunately, it appears that many hypermedia designers have ignored the critical early planning stages. This paper provides an overview of three of those planning stages: audience analysis, system goals analysis, and control analysis.

Weise Moeller, Elizabeth A. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext



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