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 Big O: IA Lessons from Orienteering

Several orienteering strategies - including map simplification and contact, navigating by checkpoints, rough and precise map reading, and using attack points to find the goal - have useful IA parallels. Gene Smith explores how IAs can learn from these parallel techniques and create digital spaces that are easier to navigate.

Smith, Gene. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Binding the Graphical Web (Component and Data Bindings with XBL, XHTML and SVG)

The emerging XML based web increasingly relies upon ways of presenting content in a just in time manner. Presentation technologies such as SVG and XHTML can do so, yet the power to properly harness them will likely lie in the emergent binding languages such as XBL, sXBL, and XTF. In this presentation, bindings and binding languages will be explored, illustrating how such environments as the Mozilla Firefox 1.5 browser are using XBL as a means for performing component binding into XHTML, SVG and XForms interfaces, looks at sXBL and the W3C's XBL directions, and details why such binding languages likely represent the future of XML presentation and interaction.

Cagle, Kurt. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XML


Blasting the Myth of the Fold

There is an astonishing amount of disbelief that the users of web pages have learned to scroll and that they do so regularly. Holding on to this disbelief--this myth that users won't scroll to see anything below the fold--is doing everyone a great disservice, most of all our users.

Tarquini, Milissa. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>Web Design>Information Design>User Centered Design


A Body of Criticism   (peer-reviewed)

The nature of hypertext challenges many underlying assumptions for traditional literary critics. Literary critics frequently like to think that they have objectively looked at the lexias of the work, thoughtfully considered them, and constructed a solid interpretation or analysis of the work based on those lexia. Hypertext, however, presents the possibility that two critics who are reading the same work may have differing sets of lexia from which to work. Thus, even if critics objectively consider the lexia before them, they cannot free themselves from the subjectivity of the reading performance that made those lexia (and not others) appear. This raises the concern that, if hypertext critics can only present subjective views of the text, there may be little or no benefit to reading or writing those critiques.

Higgason, Richard E. Journal of Digital Information (2003). Articles>Information Design>Hypertext>Theory


Bookmark (Anchor) Linking Tip

You can link to any tag within the page by quoting its ID. For example, if you have a paragraph with an ID of "intro", then you can link directly to that point without having to insert a bookmark.

Self, Tony. HyperWrite (2007). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>HTML


The Boss Just Said "Do More With Less!": The Business Information Survey 2010   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Key findings from a Survey of corporate business information services based on in-depth interviews with leading information and knowledge managers: 1. More global coordination and control of distributed information services function, including content purchasing, driven by financial and organizational pressures 2. Tough business climate has forced changes in the direction and activities of many companies, with consequential impact on information and research services 3. More management scrutiny of information services costs and benefits 4. Eighty-five per cent of respondents reported a downturn in content budgets and/or staffing numbers. The average reduction in content is 13 per cent and in staff 10 per cent. 5. Increasing and imaginative ways that information services are adding value including undertaking analytical financial and market work 6. Twenty per cent of respondents have outsourced or off-shored some of their information functions. More are considering this option including, for the first time, law firms 7. Knowledge sharing is higher on the agendas of some companies 8. Deployment of innovative techniques such as the use of stories to disseminate good practice and knowledge sharing 9. The business benefits of the use of social media is still doubted by some companies 10. Blogging, wikis and personal networking tools are being used to a greater or lesser extent by 80 per cent of respondents.

Foster, Allan. Business Information Review (2010). Articles>Information Design>Management


Review: Bosworth's Web of Data

In a Thursday morning keynote at the MySQL Users Conference 2005, Google's Adam Bosworth advocated an open model for data. Although he was not referring to open source, he expanded upon the example by explaining that customers like open source software because of the transparency.

Steinberg, Daniel H. O'Reilly and Associates (2005). Articles>Reviews>Information Design>SQL


Bottoms Up: Designing Complex, Adaptive Systems

Web design is under attack. Our enemy is a dangerous meme known as reductionism. This devious adversary is spreading the notion that we can fully understand Web sites as a combination of simpler components, and that we can break the process of design into lots of quick steps and clearly defined deliverables.

Morville, Peter. New Architect (2002). Articles>Information Design>Web Design


Breadcrumb Navigation Increasingly Useful

Breadcrumbs use a single line of text to show a page's location in the site hierarchy. While secondary, this navigation technique is increasingly beneficial to users.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2007). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage

There has been speculation that a breadcrumb trail also aids the user's 'mental model' of the site's layout to reduce disorientation within the site (Bernard, 2003); however, we have not found research to validate this assumption. It would seem logical, however, that a constant visualization of the path to the user's current location would increase their awareness and knowledge of the site structure.

Rogers, Bonnie Lida and Barbara Chaparro. Usability News (2003). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage

There are three different types of breadcrumbs represented in websites – path, attribute, and location. Path breadcrumb trails are dynamic in that any given page will show a different breadcrumb trail based on how the user reached the page. Attribute breadcrumb trails display meta information showing many different trails representing several possible paths to reach the page.

Rogers, Bonnie Lida and Barbara S. Chaparro. Usability News (2003). Articles>Web Design>Information Design


Breaking Up Large Documents for the Web - Part 1

To present content on the web in the amount that most people want: think “topic,” not “book”; break large documents into topics and subtopics.

Redish, Janice C. 'Ginny'. User Interface Engineering (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design


Breaking Up Large Documents for the Web - Part 2

One page or separate pages? When faced with that decision, ask yourself these questions: How much do people want in one visit? How connected is the information? Am I overloading my site visitors? How long is the web page? What’s the download time? Will people want to print? How much will they want to print?

Redish, Janice C. 'Ginny'. User Interface Engineering (2009). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Writing


Bridging the Gap: From Raw Usability Testing Data to Design Implementation   (PDF)

Learn practical ways to influence members of your company’s product engineering group with usability testing data. Putting the authors’ tips into practice will help you improve the design of your company’s products.

Leritz-Higgins, Sarah E. and Catherine J. Yaspo. Intercom (2006). Articles>Usability>Information Design


Bring the lnternet into Your Documents on Budget and on Time   (PDF)

Technical communicators can mine the Internet for fresh approaches and information to prepare documents with efficiency and minimal expense.

Murphy, Avon J. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Information Design>Research


Brint.com: Why More is Not Better

Information architect Lou Rosenfeld never thought he'd criticize a website for being over-architected. Then he saw Brint.com and its 16 navigational systems.

Rosenfeld, Louis. CIO Magazine (2000). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>User Centered Design


Building a Bridge: DITA, DocBook, and ODF

Some folks here are taking a very strong look at DITA. I'm certainly one of them. But we also have a huge legacy of documents in Solbook format (Sun's subset of DocBook). There are tools for editing such documents, and tools for processing them. and there are many people who are comfortable with those tools. So DITA isn't going to replace the world, just yet. But DITA makes extensive reuse possible. It's a format with a serious future, because "reuse" is a very big deal. It lets you single-source your information content so have one place to make an edit. That sort of thing becomes important when you have multiple revisions of a product, and/or multiple variations. It becomes important when different tools and different products use the same information in different ways. It can drastically improve quality, ensure uniformity of presentation. Finally, structured formats like DITA and DocBook create the kind of consistently-tagged information that allows for useful automation.

Armstrong, Eric. Sun Microsystems (2007). Articles>Information Design>XML>DITA


Building a Content Framework

A content framework is a library of content types and metadata along with detailed guidelines for how to use the framework to create specific customer experiences. A content framework provides the underlying concepts, best practices, guidelines and structure to enable you to rapidly design, build, test and deliver an effective customer-centric content experience. This article provides an overview of the components of a content framework.

Rockley, Ann. Rockley Bulletin (2006). Articles>Content Management>Information Design


Building a Database of Graphic Files Using Microsoft Access   (PDF)

Many technical communicators manage large collections of graphic files and must keep track of which graphics are used in which deliverables. An effective tool for managing a collection of graphic files is a relational database management system (RDMS) such as Microsoft Access. Before the database can be built in Access, it is necessary to 1) create detailed functional requirements and 2) build a high-level conceptual model from which the database relations (tables) can be derived. A spreadsheet program can be used to build the conceptual model and generate the relations. Normalization checks should be performed on the relations before the database is implemented in Access.

Lowe, Richard B. STC Proceedings (2005). Articles>Information Design>Databases>Microsoft Access


Building a Document Delivery System from Off-the-Shelf Standards-Conformant Parts

OK. So you have your documents in XML. How do you deliver them to readers? You've heard great things about separation of form and content, and would like different kinds of readers to see the documents styled in different ways. And in order to make the collection of documents more useful, you would like to have full-text search. The quality assurance people would like some help with tools for checking documents and finding errors and inconsistencies in existing ones. Oh, and by the way, we just took a budget cut, so can you do it without breaking the bank?

Sperberg-McQueen, C.M. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML


Building a Home-Grown Knowledge Base: Don't Wait for the Resources—Build a Prototype

In this presentation, we will discuss why and how we came to build a knowledge base for the Computing Help Desk at MIT. We discuss MIT’s re-engineering effort and its impact on the various Help Desk groups who were brought together as a single team; how this centralizing of Help Desk services created a new requirement of getting useful, just-in-time knowledge to student consultants, and professional staff; and how that requirement helped us approach another goal of our re-engineered processes-helping our customers to help themselves. We then describe the tool we created and how we are using it.

Jones, Susan B. and Carol Wood. ACM SIGDOC (1998). Design>Information Design>Web Design


Building a More Semantic Web With Microformats

This paper will introduce the Semantic Web, the next stage in the development of the web. We will explain why semantics are important, how they can help computers catalogue data, and how this will benefit us as individuals. We will also look at microformats, an ongoing project the aims to help us create a more semantic web. We assume you have a good knowledge of XHTML.

Mercurytide (2006). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XHTML


Building a PDF Book   (PDF)

Wilson describes a process for PDF versions of papers manuals by converting Microsoft Word files with Adobe Acrobat.

Wilson, Dennis E. Intercom (2002). Design>Information Design>eBooks>Adobe Acrobat


Building a SQL Server 2005 Integration Services Package Using Visual Studio 2005

A comprehensive start from scratch and step-by-step approach to learn this important procedure. This illustrated article is your guide to SSIS designing.

Krishnaswamy, Jayaram. ASPAlliance (2006). Articles>Information Design>Web Design>SQL


Building a Taxonomy of a Firm’s Knowledge Assets: A Perspective of Durability and Profitability   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Managing their knowledge assets is an imperative issue for most organizations in pursuit of competitive advantage in the knowledge-based economy. Previous researchers have proposed a number of valuable taxonomies for classifying an organization’s knowledge assets. However, once knowledge assets are classified by such taxonomies as a particular type, they do not change type over time. Arguably, however, business contexts are swiftly changing, and knowledge assets may have to be constantly adapted to play new roles, and so a taxonomy capable of reflecting the changing relations between knowledge assets and environmental conditions is needed. This article proposes such a taxonomy which utilizes durability and profitability as dimensions. This taxonomy allows knowledge assets to change type in the light of the new condition. Additionally, it has the characteristics of demonstrating the alignment of assets with organizational strategies, and of being widely applicable in the for-profit sector.

Li, Sheng-Tun. Journal of Information Science (2010). Articles>Information Design>Taxonomy>Case Studies



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