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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.



How Many Links Are Too Many Links?

To understand how much content effluvia we're subjected to, I wanted to see how many links are on the homepage of popular websites. For example, if I go to the homepage of the Huffington Post, I see 720 links, in one shot. Then click inside to a story and you've nearly doubled that number—it ads up pretty quickly. What about the tech blogs? BoingBoing Gadgets, 514. Gizmodo, 468. Engadget 432, all on one page. And on average, fewer than 1% of the links on news sites and blogs actually point to rich content, 99% are navigation and other article headlines. Aggregation site Techmeme has a whopping 1081 links.

Bilton, Nick. O'Reilly and Associates (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Hypertext


How Much Documentation is Enough?   (PDF)

Examines the need for defining the scope of documentation projects up front, and provides strategies for implementing a zero-based scoping approach.

Dhanagopal, Kumar. STC India (2010). Presentations>Information Design>Content Strategy>Documentation


How Much Information? 2009 Report on American Consumers   (PDF)

In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included.

Bohn, Roger E. and James E. Short. University of California San Diego (2009). Articles>Information Design>User Centered Design


How Tellabs Uses XML

In the evolving and demanding world of telecommunications, Tellabs supports telecom service providers with the design, development, and deployment of wireline, wireless , and cable solutions worldwide. But with each unique solution deployment requires knowledge transfer from engineers to field service staff to ensure a smooth system upgrade. Learn how Tellabs' New Product Introduction group used DITA to transition to customer-centric writing. *What are the key things the organization as a whole should keep in mind regarding processes?"

Insight24 (2008). Presentations>Information Design>Case Studies>XML


How the Process and Organization Can Help or Hinder Adding Value   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Do better information products result when technical communicators are well integrated into product development teams?

Pieratti, Denise D. Technical Communication Online (1995). Design>Documentation>Information Design>Usability


How to Create an RSS Feed for any HTML Page

How can you create an RSS for a specific HTML page, especially if the page-create software or web host doesn't provide an automated method. This article discusses how to use a screen scraper to quickly and easily create a RSS feed for any HTML page.

Sapir, Rick. KeyContent.org (2006). Articles>Information Design>XML>RSS


How to Customize the DITA Open Toolkit PDF Plugin Output to Remove "on page xx" Text for Cross References

This tutorial uses the DITA Open Toolkit and the corresponding PDF plugin release, and Wrycan's demo text. This assumes you have a working DITA environment and can run the default formatting with PDF plugin.

Blogspot (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


How To Drive Free, Massive Traffic Using Simple RSS   (PDF)

This report is going to show you a couple of brief, but extremely powerful secrets to increase the traffic to your website. RSS drives frequent search engine (spider) visits and that translates to higher search engine rankings.

Rhodes, John S. and Matthew W. Rhodes. Wordpreneur (2007). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>RSS


How to Make a Faceted Classification and Put It On the Web

Describes when to use faceted classification on web sites and provides instruction for creating a faceted classification system.

Denton, William. William Denton (2003). Articles>Information Design>Web Design


How to Make Wireless Directory Services Useful

Wireless directory services need to recognize both the limitations and the benefits of mobile phones, by making search results more to-the-point and context-sensitive.

Baker, Adam. Merges.net (2001). Articles>Information Design>Mobile


How to Organize a Portfolio

You have collected the pieces you would like to include in your portfolio. You have sorted through your collection and selected your best work. You have made entry cards for each piece to provide a good introduction for each sample. And you are ready to place your work, introduction page, entry cards, section dividers, and give-aways into your new leather portfolio. Where do you start?

Burnett, Rebecca E. Thomson. Careers>Portfolios>Information Design>Card Sorting


How to Restart Style-Based Numbering

The most reliable way of creating numbered paragraphs is to use paragraph styles to apply the numbering. This makes all paragraphs with the same numbered style belong to the same numbered list, and numbering is continuous through the whole document.

Aldis, Margaret. Word MVP Site, The (2002). Articles>Word Processing>Information Design>Microsoft Word


How to Share Everything with Everyone (well, a few things anyway)

We're moving toward a shared network model, where people publish and subscribe. The really appealing sites integrate feeds for a community of users in an invisible, seamless way, making it easy to see what we're all up to.

Johnson, Tom H. Tech Writer Voices (2008). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>RSS


How to Substitute Your Custom CSS When Using DITA Open Toolkit Transforms

When you want to use the DITA Open Toolkit transforms but you want to use your own CSS, here's how to substitute your CSS for HTML Help (CHM).

Gentle, Anne. BMC Software (2009). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


How to Use Ditaval Filtering ?

Adobe FrameMaker 9 allows to use Ditaval based filtering of content while producing following output from a DITA Map. For using the Ditaval filtering with FrameMaker, first create a ditaval file specifying the filtering criteria and then select this ditaval file while producing the output.

Adobe (2009). Articles>Information Design>DITA>Adobe FrameMaker


How to Write Interesting Headings for Documentation

Perhaps our headings should focus a bit more on user benefits? For example, "Overview of batch printing - Save time and improve document organization" is a bit more engaging, especially if your customer is struggling with those issues.

HelpScribe (2010). Articles>Documentation>Information Design>Technical Writing


HTML, XHTML, Semantics and the Future of the Web

Clarifies exactly what XHTML is, explains why you need to be learning about it from today, and steps through the process of transitioning to the standards based way of marking up for the web, and beyond.

Allsopp, John. Western Civilization (2005). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XHTML


Humanistic Virtues in Information Graphics

The media, in confronting the challenge of presenting heartrending information and the overwhelming amount of bereavement on 9/11, relied on a quantifiable approach to designing such statistics for mass consumption. Evidently, production inserts keyed in on the bottom of television screens displayed scrolling numbers, sound-byte tracks of seemingly instantaneous gratification in coping with the economy of airtime and awesome amount of news. One could imagine information “tickers” of human tragedy—where numbers surmount, anxiety and anticipation cultivates. Quantitative virtues portrayed in these information graphics argued for numerical clarity in its message; whereby in the days following, the world could have been changed forever, and these momentary glances at numbers assuage how humanity stood frozen at that very moment in time. Nonetheless, today the tickers are gone; numbers are no longer news; families are left bereft; and a war is well underway. The media has retreated to capture screen shots of “Ground-Zero” as it stands in recovery, and the news, while still overpopulated with information, may perhaps be apologetic for the dispassionate exhibit it proposed soon after the catastrophe.

Fukumoto, Dane K.T. Orange Journal, The (2001). Design>Graphic Design>Information Design


Hypermedia Systems in the New Millennium   (peer-reviewed)

This article revisits three past articles about the implications of hypermedia in the 21st century. Each August, the ACM Journal of Computer Documentation reprints a classic article, book chapter, or report along with several analytical commen- taries and a response by the author of the classic document. In this context, a 'classic' document means one that was published at least five years ago but is no longer in print. It also means one that raises issues of lasting importance to the profession.

Waite, Bob. ACM SIGDOC (2001). Presentations>Information Design>Hypertext


Hypermedia: A Design Philosophy   (peer-reviewed)

Few designers explicitly think about their applications' interrelationships. Designers appear not have a deep enough conceptualization of their domains to identify intuitive relationships and realize the full scope and interconnections within domains. RNA (Relationship-Navigation Analysis) gives designers and developers an analysis tool to think about an information domain in terms of its interrelationships. RNA incorporates a complete taxonomy of generic relationship types that would apply to any application domain.

Bieber, Michael and Joonhee Yoo. ACM Computing Surveys (1999). Design>Information Design>Hypertext


Hypertext as a Productivity Tool for Technical Writing   (PDF)

Hypertext is a novel approach to computer-based information management based on associative indexing. The concept in general and the characteristics of typical systems are briefly reviewed. Strategies for applying hypertext techniques to the process of writing a technical document are examined. The way in which hypertext documents are used is discussed, focusing on a commonly encountered problem -- user disorientation within the document. Hypertext-based technical documents are compared and contrasted against their paper-based antecedents.

Lenarcic, John. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext>Technical Writing


Hypertext Functionality   (peer-reviewed)

The Hypertext Functionality field studies techniques for and the impact of supplementing everyday computer applications with hypertext (or hypermedia) functionality (HTF). The HTF approach encourages system developers to think actively about an application's interrelationships, and whether users should access and navigate along these relationships directly. It views hypertext as value-added support functionality. The HTF approach fosters three major areas of research: using HTF to improve personal and organizational effectiveness, HTF and application design,and integrating HTF into applications.

Bieber, Michael, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen and V. Balasubramanian. ACM Computing Surveys (1999). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext


Hypertext Gardens: Delightful Vistas

The attention of the audience is a writer's most precious possession, and the value of audience attention is seldom more clear than in writing for the Web. The time, care, and expense devoted to creating and promoting a hypertext are lost if readers arrive, glance around, and click elsewhere.

Bernstein, Mark. Eastgate Systems (1998). Design>Information Design>Hypertext


Hypertext Reflections   (peer-reviewed)

A discussion of some of the most compelling elements of current hypertext theory. By practicing the theory it preaches, it hopes to explicitly model the theoretical interrogations of the issue.

Palmquist, Mike, Will Hochman, Beth E. Kolko, Emily Golson, Jonathan Alexander, Luann Barnes and Kate Kiefer. Kairos (1997). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext


Hypertext Technology as a Tool for Computer-Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW)   (PDF)

Because of the nature and complexity of collaborative work, there is currently much interest in examining computer support for team endeavors. Hypertext technology is particularly suited to providing such support. Many current hypertext applications support collaborative endeavors in diverse fields. Rensselaer’s Design Conference Room (DCR) is an Electronic Meeting System facility intended to support mechanical and software engineering design teams. Teams meeting or working in the DCR have access to sophisticated networking and hypertext technologies. Careful study of the processes and products of DCR team will contribute to an understanding of how hypertext (and other computer technologies) can best support team endeavors.

Mings, Susan M. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext



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