A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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 Effects of Information Design on Perception of Environmental Risk   (PDF)

Communication about environmental risk is important and problematic. A few prior researchers have explored the impact of information design in this area. This paper describes research done involving one common graphic tool, the risk ladder. Risk ladders explain the magnitude of risk from an environmental hazard, often by including comparative information about more familiar risks.

Campbell, Kim Sydow. STC Proceedings (1998). Design>Information Design>Environmental>Rhetoric


Effects of RSVP Display Design on Visual Performance in Accomplishing Dual Tasks with Small Screens   (peer-reviewed)

Rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) represents a mechanism for exhibiting temporal information instead of spatial information to overcome the limitations of small-screen devices. Previous studies examining this area focused only on information presented by RSVP displays and disregarded changes in the performance of accompanying tasks associated with such displays. Therefore, this investigation performed a dual-task experiment (a search task for static information and a reading task for RSVP display information) to examine the effects of presentation mode (character-by-character, word-by-word, and one-line format), speed (171, 260, 350, and 430 characters per minute, or cpm), and text-flow orientation (vertical and horizontal orientation) of RSVP display information on the visual performance of users during different stages of usage (whether current usage is the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or eighth day of usage) for a small screen.

Chen, Chien-Hsiung and Yu-Hung Chien. International Journal of Design (2007). Design>User Interface>Information Design>Usability


Efficient XML Encoding Town Hall

Binary XML has been a controversial and hotly debated topic in the XML community for many years. The XML 1.x syntax is very flexible and provides a common information representation for a vast array of systems. The XML marketplace has generated a seemingly endless collection of low cost, high quality, rapidly evolving technologies that make creating, sharing, manipulating, securing and accessing information easier. Systems that have adopted XML are cashing in on the economic and interoperability benefits of the XML marketplace. Some believe the introduction of a second, more efficient encoding for XML information would drastically reduce or destroy the flexibility or interoperability benefits of XML.

Rollman, Rich and John Schneider. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Information Design>Government>XML


The Electric XML Acid Test

This will be the story of my life from the time my boss came to me and said, 'Hey, maybe we could do that Knowledge Base in XML. I hear good things about that XML,' to the time that I figured out everything I needed to know and deployed a fully functional XML knowledge base to the world.

Robotti, Anne. KeyContent.org (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML


Electronic Publishing of Scientific Manuscripts

To write a chapter about a topic which is so new and developing so rapidly that changes take place just about everyday is an interesting challenge. What I hope to accomplish in these few pages is to explain what electronic publishing is and explore a number of issues associated with this new area of information dissemination. Yes!, this is a new area of dissemination! And perhaps this is the place to start - by defining electronic publishing. Electronic publishing is a new form of communication. Electronic publishing, for the purposes of scholarly scientific presentation of results, is the creation of a scholarly work which is in a totally electronic (non-paper) form from its creation to its publication or dissemination. An electronic journal is a product that was specifically developed and designed for the Internet, a product which is not re-worked printed material that is delivered electronically. As I hope to show in this chapter, electronic journals and electronic publishing is much more than an alternat

Heller, Stephen R. hellers.com. Articles>Scientific Communication>Information Design


The Elements of User Experience   (PDF)

The Web was originally conceived as a hypertextual information space; but the development of increasingly sophisticated front- and back-end technologies has fostered its use as a remote software interface.

Garrett, Jesse James. JJG.net (2002). Articles>Information Design>User Experience>Web Design


Elitism in the Stories of U.S. Art Museums   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Institutions familiar to the public are defined by master narratives that describe their activities and imply who is invited to take part. For art museums in this country, a master narrative of elitism was established in the last century, when museums organized and began building their collections. Because art museums were designed by the rich and subsequently forced to depend on the rich for financial support, the stories of elitism and exclusion have been perpetuated over the years. Whereas little narratives, or local stories, defining the daily operations of museums do not receive attention, stories of exclusive social events and obscure art exhibitions take prominence and discourage the participation of the general public. With diminished funding for museums and fewer courses devoted to art appreciation in public schools, museums will likely be unable to attract wider audiences to support them, and the master narrative will continue to define museums' image.

David, Carol. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Information Design>Instructional Design


Emerging Content Requirements for News Products   (PowerPoint)

Current trends in online news, and design issues for presentation of news content.

Williams, Howard. IAsummit (2004). Design>Information Design>Journalism


Emerging Professions: Knowledge Broker

As a scientist, do you routinely notice opportunities for research to be translated into tangible benefits for society? Do you believe that science often fails to benefit from what society has to offer? If you would answer 'yes' to these questions, and you're someone who enjoys explaining research to nonscientists, bringing people together from diverse professional backgrounds, and acting as a facilitator, then a career in an emerging area—knowledge brokering—could be an excellent choice for you. But what exactly is a knowledge broker?

Holgate, Sharon Ann. Science (2012). Careers>Management>Information Design


Emerging Skills in Technical Communication: The Information Designer's Place in a New Career Path for Technical Communicators   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

As the responsibilities of and demand for technical communicators have grown, demand for a new set of skills called information design has emerged. Information design is preparing communication products so that they achieve performance objectives established for them. Although some technical communicators now call themselves information designers, the field originally emerged from architects, graphic designers, and library scientists, and related work by instructional designers. Information designers prepare blueprints for communication products. To do so effectively, they need skills in information design and development, the technology they are communicating, the technology of communication, the industries they are communicating to, and business skills. They must also be comfortable with a variety of media and genres. Moving to information design creates a new career ladder for technical communicators.

Carliner, Saul. Technical Communication Online (2001). Careers>Information Design


Empirical Evaluation of Concept Mapping: A Job Performance Aid for Writers   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The usefulness of concept mapping as a job performance aid for writers of technical documents was examined. Thirty-four writers were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The experimental group received 2 hours of training in the use of concept mapping. Both groups revised the same chapter from a computer manual, and an experienced technical editor blindly evaluated each revision. In part two of the study, revised texts were given to two groups of users. One group received a concept-mapped revision, while the other group received a text revised by a writer who had used conventional revision techniques. Readers' comprehension was tested and compared. Revision time was not significantly different between groups, and the editor's ratings of quality were not different. However, readers' comprehension was significantly higher with the concept-mapped versions. These results suggest that concept mapping is a useful revision tool for writers.

Crandell, Thomas L., Naomi A. Kleid and Candace Soderston. Technical Communication Online (1996). Articles>Information Design>Writing>Assessment


Enabling Extremely Rapid Navigation in Your Web or Document   (PDF)

This article presents information design techniques that apply to web sites, help systems, hardcopy, and online documentation. When the standard document navigation structures are provided, readers can rapidly survey the scope of a web or document and jump to the pages of greatest interest. This article explains the nature and benefits of detailed outlines and recommends that web authors provide a reasonably detailed and structured outline of their web site. Surfing the web can be speeded up greatly by loading fewer irrelevant pages and by giving users an (additional) alternative to page-by-page exploration, thus avoiding the lost-in-hyperspace syndrome. The distinctions between overviews, tables of contents, full-text searches, database keyword searches, and topical indexes are explained, to justify providing multiple approaches for the reader.

Hoffman, Michael. Hypertext Navigation (1997). Design>Web Design>Usability>Information Design


Enabling Mass Customization for your Technical Communication: a Paradigm Shift   (members only)

Today technical communication departments are facing the challenge of producing a continuously increasing volume of technical documentation. Indeed, as companies accelerate the pace of new product launches in response to changing markets and competitive forces, so must the technical authors produce more, and faster, the accompanying documentation for these new products. We also recognize that information users are not a uniform group; they have different product knowledge, different backgrounds and may have different reasons for using a product. As such, they need specific, personalized documentation rather than a standard one-size-fits-all document.

Rombauts, Yves. tekom (2005). Articles>Information Design


Enabling Web Service with Common Information Model

In this article we will introduce the concept of WS-Management and Common Information Model (CIM). By exploring the SOAP message with multiple examples, we will learn how to transfer CIM operations through WS-Management SOAP messages.

Hao, Sun. IBM (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XML


Endless Possibilities: Norm Walsh on the Changing Nature of Publishing

Why XML documents aren’t a good fit for relational databases, how university professors are creating custom text books for students, and find links to several innovative projects that are demonstrating the power of XML and its cousin XQuery.

Walsh, Norman and Scott Abel. Content Wrangler, The (2009). Articles>Interviews>Information Design>XML


Enterprise Agility: SOX and Enterprise Information Integration   (PDF)

The intent of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) can be characterized as risk reduction: reduce errors, inhibit fraud, and provide shareholders with transparent equal-access to material knowledge. But implementation is principally procedural controls and documentation, under threat of penalty. The vague parts of SOX are where the real leverage lies: principles of intent, and corporate transparency.

Dove, Rick. Paradigm Shift International (2005). Articles>Knowledge Management>Information Design>Documentation


Enterprise Information Architecture: A Semantic and Organizational Foundation

People disagree on what happens when IAs grow up, but Tom Reamy offers a foundation for information architecture as it advances, grappling with problems across the enterprise.

Reamy, Tom. Boxes and Arrows (2006). Articles>Information Design>Web Design


Enterprise-Level Web Form Applications with XForms and XFDL

This paper describes a platform for the XML definition of secure, intelligent web-based applications. XForms provides a powerful model-view-controller (MVC) pattern that may best be described as a cause-and-effect XML processing model originated by XFDL. This paper describes a new version of XFDL that consumes, or skins, XForms. Hence, this paper presents the first integration of the standardized XML markup for expressing the core processing of a web-based form applications (XForms) with a host language (XFDL) that offers security, precision presentation, a document-centric capability, and other features that contribute to a more rich user experience.

Boyer, John. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Information Design>Forms>XML


Envisioning the Whole Digital Person

As a human society, we're quite possibly looking at the largest surge of recorded information that has ever taken place, and at this point, we have only the most rudimentary tools for managing all this information--in part because we cannot predict what standards will be in place in 10, 50, or 100 years.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2007). Articles>User Centered Design>Information Design>Databases


Essential Navigation Checklists for Web Design

These checklists pull together best practice in the disciplines of information design, usability and accessibility, into an easy to apply format. If you are already familiar with those topics, the checklists serve as a handy reminder that is easy to refer to and apply when planning navigation. If unfamiliar it's also a fast-track lesson - providing you with a head-start in getting it right and enables you to make better informed choices / compromises.

Eleniak, Marta. SitePoint (2003). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Usability


Essential Tools of an XML Workflow

This webcast is for those publishers who have made the decision to pursue digital channels for their content. What tools are out there? What do all those acronyms mean? How can publishers implement new strategies without disrupting current workflows? Here we explore the alphabet soup of digital publishing, sort out the tools that are most useful, and help publishers find some solid ground.

Dawson, Laura. O'Reilly and Associates (2009). Presentations>Information Design>XML>Video


The Essentials of a Database Quality Process   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Many steps are involved in the process of turning an initial concept for a database into a finished product that meets the needs of its user community. In this paper, we describe those steps in the context of a four-phase process with particular emphasis on the quality-related issues that need to be addressed in each phase to ensure that the final product is a high quality database. The basic requirements for a successful database quality process are presented with specific examples drawn from experience gained in the Standard Reference Data Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Blakeslee, Dorothy M. and John Rumble, Jr. Data Science Journal (2003). Articles>Information Design>Databases>Usability


The Essentials of WWW Page Design   (PDF)

The World Wide Web (WWW) is undergoing exponential growth. Everyone seems to be moving onto the information superhighway: it’s here, it’s now, and you can learn to drive. But before you buckle up, make sure you understand the basics of Web page design. First, make sure your content is suitable. Next, design an overall structure for your site and provide adequate navigation aids so that people won’t get lost. Use visuals to convey information and keep their size to a manageable level. Finally, set the tone on the home page; 'hook' the viewer into exploring your site.

Sabadosh, Nick and Beth Mazur. STC Proceedings (1996). Design>Web Design>Information Design


The Ethic of Exigence: Information Design, Postmodern Ethics, and the Holocaust   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Compared to ethics in technical writing, ethics in design has received less attention. This lack of attention grows more apparent as document design becomes ‘‘information design.’’ Since Katz discerned an ‘‘ethic of expediency’’ in Nazi technical writing, scholars have often framed technical communication ethics in categorical terms. Yet analyses of information design must consider why arrangements of text and graphics have symbolic potency for given cultures. An ‘‘ethic of exigence’’ can be seen in an example of Nazi information design, a 1935 racial-education poster that illustrates how designers and users co-constructed a communally validated meaning. This example supports the postmodern view that ethics must account for naturalized authority as well as individual actions.

Ward, Mark. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Information Design>History>Ethics


Ethics and Information   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article gives a detailed encyclopedic overview of the many areas and concepts that fall within the domain of information ethics. Thus, it offers brief synoptic remarks on, for example, privacy and peer review, rather than in-depth discussions of these topics, many of which have generated thousands of studies, articles, and monographic treatments.

Hauptman, Robert. Business Information Review (2008). Articles>Information Design>Privacy>Ethics



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