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.
Sometimes first impressions are a great way to gauge the likelihood of a successful experience. This wasn't one of those times. I was deeply concerned that I'd signed myself up for some esoteric discussion on the proper use of metadata, but pleasantly surprised to find a real-world interface solution for dealing with large information collections--exactly what the summary said this course would cover.
The purpose of this course is to introduce and explain a systematic approach to designing information architecture for web sites consisting of large collections of items. The main goals of the approach are to produce websites with multiple different views to reflect differences in user's preferred search and browsing methods, to incorporate search uniformly throughout the design of the site, and to do this in a manner that makes use of standard technology and allows non-experts to be able to add to the content of the site without disturbing the other properties.
Metadata is information about information: more precisely, it's structured information about resources. This can be a single set of hierarchical subject labels, such as a Yahoo or Open Directory Project category. More often, the metadata has several facets: attributes in various orthogonal sets of categories. This is often stored in database record fields and tables, especially for product catalogs.
This article presents three problems with existing information architecture frameworks. First, they are too focused on organizing information based on topic. Second, they treat facets as a supplemental form of classification. Third, they conflate the organization and representation of information. Analysis of these three problems suggests that information architects should provide navigation systems and user interfaces'based on an underlying framework of faceted classification'that allow users to flexibly navigate through complex information spaces in the service of particular tasks and goals. To this end, this article introduces a faceted classification framework, and provides an example of a model framework, called 'Facets are Fundamental' (FaF). The purpose of the FaF framework is to explicitly designate faceted classification (rather than a hierarchical classification) as the starting point of the IA development process. Both of these approaches encourage information architects to employ non-topical methods for organizing and representing information.
I tend to sit in my own corner and do what I enjoy doing without too much concern with the latest fad, style or trend. Yet, every so often I do look around the web to see what others are doing, and what, if any, benefit this might have for me. So it was that I came to pick up a copy of 'Flash Web Design, the art of motion graphics' by Hillman Curtis. On page 01:08, Mr. Curtis talks briefly about Multitasking Attention Deficit (M.A.D.), and that web motion designers need to be aware of it. The bottom line was, because of M.A.D. you need to communicate your message in 10 seconds or less.
XML is often used today as a data export and exchange format. In such cases, you might deal with a feed of XML records; sometimes, if this feed, is too long, there are performance problems importing it into another system. As such, you might want to produce only an incremental feed--that is, one that only includes items that have changed. This article presents a collection of simple techniques that you can combine into a system for more digestible feeds containing only updated records.
Sometimes, content has many attributes that have different importance to different users. A hierarchy assumes everyone approaches these attributes the same way, but that’s often not the case.
Comment navigue un internaute? Qu'est ce qui le motive dans son parcours? Des études comportementales permettent de dégager des principes de base. Les façons d'agir ou de réagir des internautes sont désormais étudiées et testées. La navigation qui faisait la part belle à la structure technique du site se déplace vers une approche plus contextuelle. La barre de navigation va-t-elle donc disparaître?
Not so long ago, on my personal site I posted a little entry on design. And a comment was made: 'IA is not design.' This sentence has sat vibrating in my head for months. It speaks of bravado in the face of fear. But why should Information Architects fear design?
Feedity is an RSS generator for web pages without a web syndication format. The goal of Feedity is to dynamically create RSS web feeds from such webpages. Feedity will take virtually any web page, and convert it into a fully formed RSS web feed. The RSS feed is updated in near-real time.
An image, a caption and the image credit. That can't be hard to get the associations right, can it? Delve into the discussion about markup, semantics and microformats of a seemingly simple issue.
The study investigates the ways in which people experience information overload in the context of monitoring everyday events through media such as newspapers and the internet. The findings are based on interviews with 20 environmental activists in Finland in 2005. The perceptions of the seriousness of problems caused by information overload varied among the participants. On the one hand, information overload was experienced as a real problem particularly in the networked information environments. On the other hand, information overload was perceived as an imagined problem with some mythical features. Two major strategies for coping with information overload were identified. The filtering strategy is based on the determined weeding out of material deemed useless. This strategy is favoured in networked information environments. The withdrawal strategy is more affectively oriented, emphasizing the need to protect oneself from excessive information supply by keeping the number of information sources to a minimum.
Findability refers to the quality of being locatable or navigable. At the item level, we can evaluate to what degree a particular object is easy to discover or locate. At the system level, we can analyze how well a physical or digital environment supports navigation and retrieval. This website is a selective, seriously incomplete, and perpetually evolving collection of links to people, software, organizations, and content related to findability.
Schema theory says that humans acquire information by building and holding models of that information in their minds. To facilitate learning of new information, writers essentially define a schema for their audience and present new information within that schema. But how do they know that a given schema will work? Drawing on examples from the computer software field, this workshop shows that developing a schema to effectively deliver knowledge to an audience requires looking beyond the apparent organization of ideas.
Firefox 2.0 brought several important changes in its XML support. It's currently reaching its peak in user deployment. Learn about updated XML features in Firefox 2.0, including a controversial change to the handling of RSS Web feeds.
We met last August at the Bishop's House on Duke University's East Campus. It was the first evening class of the Technical Communication Professional Certificate offered by Duke University's Continuing Studies Program. The program is a ten-month overview of technical communication and covers topics such as writing and editing, outlines and content plans, information architecture, tools, and project management. The final requirement is a capstone project where students put into practice everything they learn during the program.
Extreme Programming (XP) is yet another popular idea gaining press. It adapts the best ideas from the past decades of software development. Whether or not you adopt XP, it's worth considering what XP teaches.
Typographic hierarchy is how different faces, weights and sizes of typefaces structure a document. Some of these hierarchical devices are well-established conventions, such as cross heads and folios, so I'm not going to touch on them in this post. To keep it simple I'm going to concentrate on two things - size and weight. The first of which is size.
Typeface weight, and the choice of weight, is perhaps one area of typography that to most designers is simply a matter of choice. That choice is dictated by answering a design problem which is aesthetically, or content, motivated. What many designers do not realise is that there are rules which should govern the choice of weight - a typographic pecking order - which when followed, aids the designer's typesetting and can produce stunning results.
Unordered lists are one of the most pervasive elements on the web, probably just behind paragraphs and hyperlinks in terms of their bunny-like abundance. And for good reason: bulleted (i.e., unordered) lists are a great way to convey a bunch of related information in a rather small space, which is often the preferred way to read on (and thus, write for) the internet.
There's long been something fairly unsatisfying about the relationship that enterprise architecture has had with the business side of most organizations. Recently there's a growing realization that traditional enterprise architecture as its often practiced today might be broken in some important way. What might be wrong and how to fix it are the questions du jour.
Information architecture (IA) means so much to our projects, from setting requirements to establishing the baseline layout for our design and development teams. But what does it mean to your clients? Do they see the value in IA? What happens when they change their minds? Can IA help manage the change control process? More than ever, we must ensure that our clients find value in and embrace IA—and it’s is our job to educate them. If we want our customers to embrace IA, we must help them understand why we need it.