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A List Apart
Brightly Colored Food
City of Sound
Croc o' Lyle
Digital Web Magazine
Dive Into Mark
Guide to ease
Joel on Software
Noise Between Stations
Off the top
Signal vs. Noise
There's a new salary survey that's open for participation until March 31, 2004 (The official announcement is available here). It's is focused on UCD & HCI but has a number of questions where Information Architecture can be selected, and it's fairly comprehensive in many other respects.
I think that it is beneficial for both practitioners and hiring managers to have accurate, realistic compensation information, and hopefully participating in this survey will help.
FYI, more salary and compensation info is available at the Salary Surveys page on the IAwiki.
The HFI Salary Survey, which I mentioned here a while ago, has released its results. The quick info for US respondents:
Commercial: $82,600 (179 respondents)
Government & Nonprofit: $59,700 (23 respondents)
With the US respondents working in the commercial sector of the economy, three factors appear to influence compensation:
- experience in the field
- advanced degrees
- primary activity
Jared Spool has a nice little article on Iterative design and the power of style sheets.
Hmmm... It reminds me a whole lot of my article called Prototyping with Style from last month's Digital Web Magazine. (ia/ discussion) Of course, I wasn't the first one to come up with the idea of using CSS for prototyping purposes, but I picked the topic because there wasn't anything else being written about it. But I guess now there is.
I'm just sayin'...
Hot on the heels of the AIfIA Salary Survey comes the HFI Usability Salary Survey. It's geared more towards usability, for sure, but one of the job titles they identify is "Information Architect," so it's worth participating.
Why should this be important to you?
So, help out our cause and take the survey.
Even if you've read separate interviews with Lou Rosenfeld and Steve Krug, and even if you've read the other joint interviews they've done, this interview at O'Reilly is worth reading, if only for Steve Krug's great analogies:
I sometimes think the best analog for my job is a "show doctor"--the person who comes in while a Broadway show is still in out-of-town tryouts, watches the whole thing, and says, "I think it would work much better if you moved the cowgirl dance number to the start of the second act, and killed the love ballad altogether."
But, humor aside, Lou and Steve both have some good things to say, and it's not just a sales pitch for their seminars or a regurgitation of past interviews.
The second issue of disinformation is out. Especially interesting is Don't trust your eyes - a laboratory study investigating consumer behavior on the net:
Responding pictures of secondhand goods or used vehicles, which are offered in the Internet e.g. with Ebay deceive frequently over the true quality of a commodity away. ...In our laboratory study which runs over a period of 3 months we logged the Internet purchase behavior of 859 persons with a customized XMosiac 10.5 browser. We can show in this study that during identical description of a product the preference was given to the article with a photo, in 87 percent of the cases. ... We can significantly show that a worse product with photo can be sold thus better than a better without photo.
And, yes, as someone commented last time, disinfojournal is a bit strange, but that's what I think I like about it...
disinformation, “the first international e-journal of disinformation on the net,” has launched, and the first issue is available online. From their home page
There is obviously a huge lack of quality information on behavior, amount and usage regarding disinformation on the internet. As information has been increasingly invested with value, people have tried to manipulate, destroy, or acquire it in any way possible. Circumstances and instances cover a broad range of disinformation on the net or IP-based networks. The disinfojournal deals with topics in all areas of disinformation. This includes, but is not limited to library and information science, information technology, electronic publishing, database management, data mining, knowledge production, knowledge dissemination and of course malinformation and disinformation approached from sociological, psychological, philosophical, theoretical, technical, and applied perspectives.
The first issue includes About 5 percent of your intranet information is malicious or wrong and The usage of forms and false data: a field study, among others.
Unfortunately, the only way to get the full text is via email (?); HTML and PDF abstracts are available online.
From Progressive Information Technolgies (tagline: “Information Architects for Publishing”) comes the Ten Commandments of Content Management:
These will probably be no-brainers for anyone who has worked with content management or CMSs, but there are some useful tips and helpful “Points to look for” for those trying to get their head around the whole idea.
Must be that time of year, since two usability-related year-in-review pieces came out yesterday:
The article is fairly short but quite informative and definitely worth a read. Remember, kids, it's all about users + content + context...
The search engine industry and the research community alike often fail to acknowledge that intranets are not just downscaled versions of the Internet, but are instead a whole different environment in terms of both content and culture. We use the same technology to build both, but the contexts in which they operate are entirely different.
Bryan Eisenberg (of FutureNow and GrokDotCom) has a good article in today's edition of ClickZ called Framing the Problem. It's a good, simple introduction to the “why wireframe?” question, and considering ClickZ's audience (marketers, advertisers), it's good to see IA mentioned there, though not explicitly.
At the end, Bryan adds in an Einstein quote (“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”), which reminded me a lot of a similar discussion of wireframes and other deliverables — John Zapolski's Zen and the Art of Deliverables (PDF) presentation at the 2002 IA Summit. To paraphrase John's comments, if someone asks you how long it takes to make a sitemap, tell them it takes five days, even if actually takes two hours. The four and a half days you spend thinking about the information architecture problems make it possible for you to create the sitemap in two hours.
This is an interesting 9-page PDF from Stanford (and Oracle?) that gives the results of an small eye tracking study that was run. It's rather technical, but useful, and there's a good list of references at the bottom, so this might best filed in the “save this because it might be very useful later” file.
Basically, good IA and good design combined with a sensible business approach will lead you to success. No big news there. They're talking about it over at clickz, too. It's nice to see IA mentioned in the business/marketing press, and, well, especially in a good light.
Persuasive Architecture ... [is] the aesthetically appealing and functional structure you create to marry the organization of the buying and selling processes with the organization of information. It’s the only way your Web site is actively going to influence, the only way you will pull (never push!) your visitors along the paths they need to walk to accomplish their goals – and yours.
Jesse's at it again, providing another beautiful piece of Cubicle Decoration, this time with a poster for his upcoming book.
Your users aren't stupid. Why does your site make them feel that way? (Download the PDF)
And the results?
This demo is a re-creation of the user tests conducted by the research staff, comparing Enhanced Thumbnails to more traditional methods of displaying search results. Study participants were given a set of information-finding tasks to be done using a search engine. Their search results were displayed using text, plain thumbnails, and Enhanced Thumbnails.
See examples for yourself. (Search 1, Search 2, Search 3)
The study showed that people using Enhanced Thumbnails found the answers to their queries 29% faster than when they used text summaries, and 22% faster than when they used plain thumbnails.
They also have a stand-alone browser called Popout Prisim (free 90-day trial download available) that integrates this functionality into normal browsing.
Now, all we need is for this to be tied in to the Google Toolbar and we'll be all set...
There's an interesting excerpt from a 1977 article called “Telling More Than We Know” talking about the original study that showed that what people say is not necessarily what they do. In this case, test subjects were given a problem to solve and denied getting the solution from a clue they were given, even giving credit to a useless clue while neglecting to mention the genuinely helpful one.
There's also original data from a 1977 study involving word pairs and brand recognition. I'm not good enough to sum it up here, and it's a pretty short description they've got, so you might as well just read it.
Just two more reminders that, in the words of Margaret Meade: “What people say, what people do, and what people say they do are entirely different things.”
James McNally has a great review of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Volume 2 to round up this month's IA-focused Digital Web Magazine.
To be completely honest, trying to give you a taste of the content of this book is going to be a little bit like trying to take a drink from a fire hose. ... Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is an introductory course in a discipline of which we are all slowly becoming practitioners. That it is such an enjoyable course is due entirely to the knowledge and experience of the authors. Their humility, evident in their willingness to point the reader to other sources of information, is also refreshing.
The call for participation for the March 2003 IA Summit has gone out. They're looking for case studies and presentations, as well as posters. Deadlines? December 2, 2002 for case studies and presentations, and January 15, 2003 for posters. Follow the links for more info.
[Thanks, Digital Web Magazine.]
From the 2002 UPA Conference comes Deliverables that Clarify, Focus, and Improve Design, a presentation and examples by Richard Fulcher, Bryce Glass and Matt Leacock.
There are a number of good downloads, but I especially liked the Key Relationships Between Design Deliverables (PDF), which is quite worthy of hanging up by your workstation. (Thanks to this article on Boxes and Arrows for the conference summary and link.)
The representations we choose for UI design affect both how we think about the design and how others understand it. Concept maps, wireframes, storyboards, and flow-maps speak to different audiences at different stages of the development cycle. This presentation provides examples of these documents and a toolkit for producing them.
The preliminary program is set for Internet Librarian 2002 (“The Internet Conference and Exhibition for Librarians and Information Managers”), being held November 4-6 in Palm Springs, CA. It looks like there are a lot of good sessions, with tracks and presentations on Intranets, weblogs, UCD, DRM, web writing, e-learning, searching, and the wireless web among other things.
I'm picturing a cage match complete with folding chairs, easily-breakable tables, and concealed chokers...
Sometimes, it's the things we can't agree on that make life most interesting. In this spirited debate, the two Peters shine the spotlight on the most controversial and critical issues faced by information architects today. While they've got the same first names, these two experts have no problem finding differences. Come watch the battle, as Good Peter faces off against Bad Peter. And be prepared to pick sides. Audience participation and a sense of humor are required.