Process & techniques

IA Discuss group on Flickr

The Information Architecture group started by EmWi on Flickr never took off, but snowcrash has started the IA Discuss group to share screenshots of UI widgets, deliverables and such. It's an idea similar to Christina's Widgetopia, but on Flickr. Jess wanted to something like this a few years ago on this site, but we never go to it. Flickr seems the easiest place to do it. Not sure why no one has bothered to make use of the Information Architecture Flickr group like this before.

First Things First: IA and CSS

Christina Wodtke and Nate Koechley delivered an excellent presentation at the Web Visions conference that discusses how to improve the processes of IA and web site development by using the semantic meaning produced in IA deliverables provide CSS references that can be used by site developers.

How Everyday Things are Made

First we had Don Norman's The Psychology of Everyday Things(aka Design of Everyday Things) and now we have Stanford Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing How Everyday Things are Made. I wasn't going to contribute this item but I started thinking about how someone would view the UE/IA practice and try to create a video describing how a website/web application is developed. For instance, how do we describe to our parents what we do for a living. At least people in the various industries profiled in this educational site would have something to show & tell about their work to the common person. Do we have an equivalent?

So are we really a sum of all our deliverables? How do we capture our dialogues and conversations which really contains the value of our work? I believe there are various projects out there that is trying to solve this problem by literally capturing the brainstorming sessions into digital format. If there is something out there that is a packaged description of what we do, I would love to see people post links to those types of projects.

PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption

Nielsen's latest alertbox summarizes:
"Users get lost inside PDF files, which are typically big, linear text blobs that are optimized for print and unpleasant to read and navigate online. PDF is good for printing, but that's it.
Don't use it for online presentation."

Nice to see he's still got plenty of venom left to spew. I can't wait to see his next edition which promises alternatives to the format.

Read the full entry here: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030714.html

The Power of Process, The Perils of Process

The Power of Process, The Perils of Process - In my experience, I have found that creating and documenting process has been a good exercise to help institutionalize ways of working, to help educate new team members as well as to unveil the mysteries of what we do for executives, product folks, and development teams.

Erin Malone points out that process is better thought of as a framework for thinking than a set of commandments...

Open Prototyping project

From the MIT Media Lab, Carson Reynolds has started a blog where he shows ongoing prototypes from his work. Using DENIM as one main tool, the site aims to improve UIs for open source products. (thanks PeterV)

Beyond cardsorting: Free-listing to explore user categorization

Rashmi describes a great technique in her latest at B&A: Beyond cardsorting: Free-listing methods to explore user categorizations - As a precursor to cardsorting or as an independent method, free-listing is a technique that can help you determine the scope of a content domain while providing some insight into how the domain is structured.

Mike K's book also coming April 2003

Looks like Morgan Kaufman picked up Mike Kuniavsky's book on user research (which was looking for a publisher), and that Observing the User Experience: A Practioner's Guide for User Research will arrive in April! Congratulations Mike :)

Is Customer Always Right?

Just stumbled on this Fast Company article "Desire: Connecting With What Customer Want." Some of it sounds very familiar from one of Lou's presentation at least year's summit and little bit of Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. From a marketing standpoint it makes sense, but user researchers out there should still take a look because it could possibly be just as valid for your line of work as well. The article is based on a book by Melinda Davis _Culture of Desire_ (2002).

BBC home page design process

Sweet. Matt Jones has published a document detailing the design process undergone by BBCi to redesign the BBC home page.

Can you purchase wisdom?

Peterme's recounting of an experience with a customer who believed that they could extract wisdom from a software package and vendor is really interesting.

    Part of the reason they bought this software was for the "wisdom" the software was meant to have embedded within. That there was a "wisdom" in how the software presents work processes, and that the company ought to learn from that wisdom and adjust their work accordingly, taking advantage of this "wisdom."
I'm sure there are many CIO organizations out there who think the wisdom (that intangible next step beyond knowledge) can be extracted from a technology in order to inform their users' processes. But this backward approach won't help anyone. The technology has to match the process. That's why, as Peter mentions, software needs to be flexible enough to accomodate these processes. A good lesson learned for enterprise software vendors.

Nice UX cycle diagram in there too.

Eat Me, Drink Me, Push Me

In Digital Web, Christina Wodtke excerpts chapter 8 of Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web. This is the chapter discussing how to take your content and tasks and define them in terms of the interface. Nice examples of how tasks might be translated into UIs.

P.S. That floor plan is the second floor of my house! I diagrammed it in OmniGraffle. :)

Bottoms Up: Designing complex, adaptive systems

In the December 2002 issue of New Architect, Peter Morville discusses how you can use bottom-up IA methods while still keeping a view of the bigger picture. In the article, Peter discusses the dangers of severing the ties to larger business or project goals when fragmenting system components in order to manage growth. He suggests how to use bottom-up methodologies to support top-down ideas.

Consolidated Assessment

Seth Gordon combines scenario design, card sorting, and participatory design into one user-centered lovefest in his article for Boxes and Arrows.

User-Centered Design

This month Digital Web Magazine will focus on the theme of User-Centered Design. Kicking things off this week is an interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design.

Persuasive Architecture

That cute little feller over at grokdotcom.com is talking about “Persuasive Architecture,” which he defines as:

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.

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.

Knowledge Management: When Bad Things Happen to Good Ideas

Darwin Magazine is running a story on how a good idea –knowledge management– is dragged down by its execution (poor software, poor implementation). A good read to see how your hard work could be totally hijacked by (and is currently getting a bad rep from) a number of peripheral circumstances.

[The address from the link from above: http://www.darwinmag.com/read/040101/badthings_content.html]

DonnaM's blog

Donna Maurer, and IA from down under, has started an interesting blog where she is capturing thoughts that occur to her as she works through IA, interaction design, and usability problems on the job. I find it can be helpful to remember what I've been thinking while trying to solve problems on a project, and exposing your thought processes in a journal of some sort helps when you have to go back and figure out, "Now why did we label that category such and such 3 months ago?". Good stuff.

sessions.edu ILU's

Tom found sessions.edu's ILU's, Flash based interactive tools to help in design work. The first ILU available is an fun Flash-based color wheel thing for finding color combinations. They have more ambitious applications planned for diagramming flow and laying out pages. Should be interesting to see how they develop this. Maybe they can integrate their proposed tools to create something similar to Michael Kopcsak's IA visualization prototype.

Thanks, Tom.

Lou's presentations (and we'll respect the deal, Lou)

Lou Rosenfeld has a deal for you - he'll post his presentations on his site, so long as you listen to a plug for his upcoming IA tutorials on the NNGroup tour - one basic, one more advanced. Whether or not you're able to attend, Lou's presentations are a treasure trove of IA goodies.

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