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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.



Designing A New Information Architecture: An interview with Peter Merholz of Adaptive Path

Last year, Adaptive Path, working with interactive media agency Lot21, took on a challenging project -- the redesign of three PeopleSoft sites. The redesign involved over 40,000 pages as well as 40 divergent opinions from stakeholders! After four and a half months, the site's information architecture and navigation were transformed to the accolades of both PeopleSoft and their users. We recently interviewed Peter about this project.

User Interface Engineering (2002). Design>Information Design>Web Design


Designing a New Schema with XML Design Patterns

Proposes the design of an XML-based type library format. If you've had exposure to Microsoft COM or Mozilla's XPCOM, you're probably familiar with their binary TLB (MS) and XDT (Mozilla) formats that define the available operations and interfaces for a package of portable components. An interpreted language such as JavaScript can use these definitions as cheat sheets to find out what operations and parameters are available to call on-the-fly.

Downey, Kyle. XML.com (2003). Articles>Information Design>XML>Metadata


Designing a Table of Contents   (PDF)

Describes how technical writers can design usable, helpful tables of contents for both printed documentation and help files.

Wright, Marcia G. Intercom (2002). Articles>Editing>Information Design


Designing Documents   (PDF)

Explains how to produce documents with good structure, which is essential to the use of structural markup.

Tyson, Paul H. Intercom (2002). Design>Information Design>Writing


Designing for Advanced Users

Much discussion in web usability in recent years has revolved around designing web sites which are intended to be easily accessible by even the least technologically advanced user. This attempt to attract the highest number of visitors is especially appropriate for promoting and selling goods and services. The inexperienced user unaccustomed to reading text displayed on monitors and unable to efficiently download multimedia files should not be alienated by highly detailed or stylized web writing or a lack of bandwidth. Yet, there are more-advanced users on the web that designers should consider when appropriate.

Hinkelman, Andrew. Orange Journal, The (2001). Design>Information Design>Usability


Designing for Faceted Search

Faceted search, or guided navigation, has become the de facto standard for e-commerce and product-related websites, from big box stores to product review sites. But e-commerce sites aren’t the only ones joining the facets club. Other content-heavy sites such as media publishers (e.g. Financial Times: ft.com), libraries (e.g. NCSU Libraries: lib.ncsu.edu/), and even non-profits (e.g. Urban Land Institute: uli.org) are tapping into faceted search to make their often broad-range of content more findable. Essentially, faceted search has become so ubiquitous that users are not only getting used to it, they are coming to expect it.

Lemieux, Stephanie. User Interface Engineering (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Search


Designing for Multiple Audiences

Current literature tells web designers to determine who their primary users are, then design the website for that group. However, in many cases a website must serve multiple audiences with very different needs. This article explores a few options that web designers have in creating a website that meets the needs of multiple audiences.

Riebeek, Holli. EServer (2001). Design>Information Design>Web Design>Personalization


Designing for Single Source   (PDF)

“Single source” has come to mean many things to many different people. The basic distinctions are two: (1) distributing the same content in multiple formats and (2) distributing complementary content in the most appropriate medium. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, i.e., you may have an information strategy that encompasses both ideas. Each methodology has its own advantages, suitability, and requirements. Distributing complementary content in the most appropriate medium requires research and planning, and often results in more effective documentation.

Florsheim, Stewart J. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Information Design>Single Sourcing


Designing Navigable Information Spaces   (PDF)

Currently, computer users are 'lost in hyperspace:' they have difficulty knowing where they are and locating the information they desire. To remedy this, information should be situated in an information space that enables people to explore knowledge in the same way they navigate in the physical environment. This thesis will enumerate a set of principles to guide information space design, enabling designers to create effective information spaces. The design principles fall into three categories: communication principles, which inform the spatial organization of information; wayfinding principles, which structure the space to allow successful navigation; and computational principles, which use the computational nature of digital media to enhance the information space. Two information spaces designed using these principles are presented and analyzed.

Foltz, Mark and Randall Davis. MIT (2001). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Designing Site Navigation

Even with the best possible design of any single page, your site will fail to attract visitors if not equipped with a neat, consistent, and intuitive navigational interface. This article addresses the main issues designers confront when building effective navigation tools.

Kirsanov, Dmitri. WebRef (1997). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Designing the Democratic

The role of the information architect (IA), interaction designer, or user experience (UX) designer is to help create architecture and interactions which will impact the user in constructive, meaningful ways. Sometimes the design choices are strategic and affect a broad interaction environment; other times they may be tactical and detailed, affecting few. But sometimes the design choices we make are not good enough for the users we’re trying to reach. Often a sense of democratic responsibility is missing in the artifacts and experiences which result from our designs and decisions.

Owen, Jamie. Boxes and Arrows (2009). Articles>Information Design>User Experience>Participatory Design


Designing the Total User Experience: Implications for Research and Program Development   (PDF)

Information design has traditionally focused on usability as measured by functionality and efficiency in the execution of user tasks. Newer approaches to experience design and new communication technologies such as the so-called Web 2.0 platform and its Ajax engine emphasize total user engagement with the technology and richer collaborations among users. These developments complicate traditional notions of agency by highlighting the role of technology as mediator between and among users. A project in Tech-Mediated Communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, funded by the Society for Technical Communication, illustrates how these developments impact the development of novel and creative information resources, with several experiments in cross-cultural, community-oriented, and educational systems design. This work also emphasizes the need to develop research agendas and programmatic initiatives that support interdisciplinary collaborative design activities and thus help technical communicators to meet their collective responsibility to influence and shape the mediating technologies of the future by creating more engaging and more collaborative total user experiences.

Zappen, James P. and Cheryl Geisler. Programmatic Perspectives (2009). Articles>Education>Information Design>User Experience


Designing Usable Forms: The Three-Layer Model of the Form   (PDF)

Why do people say 'I’m not good with forms' or 'I don’t like forms' when a form is only a piece of paper, or a screen, with some printing on it? There must be something special about forms that inspires these comments. The 'three-layer model” considers forms from three points of view: perceptual (layout), conversational (questions and answers) and relationship (the structure of the task). Analysing a form using the three layers helps to un-pick its problems, and to suggest ways of making it more usable.

Jarrett, Caroline. STC Proceedings (2000). Design>Information Design>Forms


Designing Web Ads Using Click-Through Data

Search engine ads are one type of Web advertising that can actually work. To create the best ads, do quick experiments and redesign ads based on usability principles for online writing. Doing so helped us increase ad click-through by 55 to 310 percent.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Usability


Designing XML Formats: Versioning vs. Extensibilty

Designers of XML formats have to face the problem of how to design their formats to be extensible and yet be resilient to changes due revisions of the format. This presentation covers various techniques and considerations for versioning XML formats.

Obasanjo, Dare. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>Standards>XML


Designing Your Own XML Schema: Learn the Essentials

This is the first article in a series which guides you in designing XML Schemas right from the basics without any hurdles.

Chaterjee, Jagadish. Dev Articles (2006). Articles>Information Design>Databases>XML



The first blog network exclusively for creative professionals, by creative professionals, and driven by passion. Beginning with nine Topics ranging from Graphic Design and Illustration through Creative Culture and Strategy, Designorati’s mission of reporting on all professional creative disciplines and concerns is well underway. In time Designorati will encompass Topics representative of all areas of professional creativity, written some of the most passionate people working in those areas.

Designorati (2005). Design>Information Design


Designorati: In-House

Designorati:In-House is intended as a resource and road map for creative professionals working from within the corporate office structure to communicate your company’s message to the outside world. With few direct resources available for the in-house designer, Designorati:In-House will try to fill that gap by collecting and commenting on issues most important to the corporate creative. In-house designers are hired because of their strong conceptual sense and ability to execute the needs of the company more efficiently than the person requesting the project. Producing effective design on little direction while meeting shortening deadlines can be daunting, so Designorati:In-House will focus on providing or pointing to solid articles which can make the job easier. Managing your own projects or dealing with micromanagers without losing your cool, finding inspiration between the walls of your cubicle, sharing and learning from your peers online or in the break room, even troubleshooting your computer (or your neighbor’s iPod) are all subjects Designorati:In-House will address.

Litvak, Vadim. Designorati (2005). Design>Information Design


Detecting JBIG2 Compression

How can I tell if JBIG2 compression was used on my PDF file?

Rosenthol, Leonard. PDFzone (2004). Articles>Information Design>Software>Adobe Acrobat


Developing an Information Management Strategy: The Foundation Stone for an EDRMS   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

All too often organizations have a fragmented approach to Information Management Documents/data is duplicated in many places and users are expected to enter the same information many times. Developing an Information Management Strategy is the foundation stone that should be in place before considering cost justifying or implementing Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS).

Waldron, Martin. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Knowledge Management>Information Design>Databases


Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy

In content metadata and hierarchies, you will often find a goldmine of implicit and explicit data that you can leverage to creatively contextualize content. After a brief introduction on taxonomy and metadata, this article focuses on finding and utilizing such relationships in hierarchies.

Ricci, Christian. Boxes and Arrows (2004). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Metadata


Developing and Creatively Leveraging Hierarchical Metadata and Taxonomy

In content metadata and hierarchies, you will often find a goldmine of implicit and explicit data that you can leverage to creatively contextualise content. After a brief introduction on taxonomy and metadata, this article focuses on finding and utilising such relationships in hierarchies.

Ricci, Christian. Boxes and Arrows (2004). Articles>Information Design>Metadata


Developing DITA Maps   (PDF)

DITA maps provide a mechanism for ordering topics and creating a topic hierarchy. Because DITA maps consist of lists of references to topics, you can reorganize the content in a deliverable simply by changing the order of the topic references. You can create different maps referencing the same source topics to create two deliverables to meet different users' needs.

Linton, Jennifer. ComTech Services (2006). Presentations>Information Design>XML>DITA


Developing Trends and Challenges for the Information Industry Examined in the Context of the Online Information Conference   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines emerging trends in the information industry that are likely to be of interest to information professionals during 2008. These include web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, social networking, semantic web, risk management, user-generated content, universal search, crowdsourcing and new roles for information professionals.

Allen, Katherine. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Information Design>Web Design>Planning


Development Life Cycle and Tools for XML Content Models

Many integration projects today rely on shared semantic models based on standards represented using Extensible Mark up Language (XML) technologies. Shared semantic models typically evolve and require maintenance. In addition, to promote interoperability and reduce integration costs, the shared semantics should be reused as much as possible. Semantic components must be consistent and valid in terms of agreed upon standards and guidelines. In this paper, we describe an activity model for creation, use, and maintenance of a shared semantic model that is coherent and supports efficient enterprise integration. We then use this activity model to frame our research and the development of tools to support those activities. We provide overviews of these tools primarily in the context of the W3C XML Schema. At the present, we focus our work on the W3C XML Schema as the representation of choice, due to its extensive adoption by industry.

Kulvatunyou, Serm, Katherine Morris, Buhwan Jeong and Puja Goyal. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>XML



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