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Signal vs. Noise
Leisa Reichelt of Disambiguity.com posted earlier this month against content inventories, positing that they immerse you in the status quo of the content types and approaches.
Her position is interesting, but we'd like to hear from you about how you react to this post. How have content inventories affected your process and creativity on projects? Is completing a content inventory as one of your first major IA tasks good or bad?
The responses to this question gave a nice blend of ideas, mainly that the initial runthrough of the content at the start of a project can be thorough, but likely should not be the final, detailed audit.
Also, there is a desire to clarify the terms at work here. One person’s “content survey” is another’s “content inventory.” Or, one person’s “content inventory” is another’s “content audit.”
The responses to this question suggest the following continuum for the level of detail:
(Least detail) Content survey > content inventory > content audit (More detail)
They key to avoiding content myopia is to look at content produced not only for the website, but also via traditional means, feeds, competitive research, and adding in the desired additional functionality.
Look for ways to take content, add effective markup, and allow people the ability to build upon it – very Web 2.0.
The existing content provides lots of insight into what has come before, informs your ideation for the project, and indicates where issues may arise.
An IA that becomes “indoctrinated” by existing content is not doing a good job. One way to learn about your client company (not the users) is to examine what content is on the site. Time and budget are factors here.
The interesting thing here is the discussion around the differences, if any, between a content “survey” and content “inventory.” This shows that the practices is still in the formative stages and that there should be an agreement at some point in the future.
In the end, which you do is determined by the project and the client (whether internal or external – ed).
Content inventories should be considered roadmaps, and it will become apparent when old content is not needed.
Sketch earlier to create artifacts and shared context. Many artifacts are much simpler to create and digest than content inventories - prototypes, comics, sketches, participatory design, games, etc. Numerous UX professionals are now doing so with much success, and the idea was promoted about 50 years ago - see Henry Dreyfuss’ 1956 classic "Designing For People."
Hello, Information Architecture fans.
To share the insights gleaned from years of deep dives into Information Architecture and the various User Experience areas of practice, every two weeks we will pose a question to the Information Architecture Institute's member mailing list, collect the responses, then summarize the key discussion points right here on iaslash.org.
Look for the first summary in the next couple days.
For the next couple weeks, our favorite IA named after an outlaw will be a guest on the WELL, discussing the Elements of User Experience and other tasty things.
The conversation is well worth checking out (though it's one long page that takes some investment). You can also participate: send questions by emailing the discussion hosts.
In case you missed it, author Carolyn Snyder has weighed in on Keith Instone's earlier paper prototyping post about her book and paper prototyping in general. The discussion is well worth a read. Thanks for stopping in Carolyn! :)
The IA Education mailing list is an open, unmoderated list for discussing topics related to information architecture education. Educators, students, and other interested individuals are welcome to join.
This week saw an increase in volume, but an unfortunate majority of that is part of a tedious, ongoing 'defining the damn thing' discussion. Fortunately, we did see a boost in shop talk, as encouraged by Marc Rettig last week.
Of course, you might have other posts that really helped you during the week. Post 'em in the comments.
This week's hightlights from SIGIA, the central IA discussion list:
Unfortunately, posts like the shop talk Marc is looking for were rare this week...we'll see next week how things went.
On SIGIA, Karl Fast proposed a rough 5 layered model for information. The layers are content, metadata, semantic, representational, and interaction.
Librarians kick ass on the metadata and semantic layers. They suck on the representational and interaction layers.
Both the SIG-IA list and a CMS list have surfaced an interesting thread today in regards to an article published at At New York, Study: Content Management Tools Fail. It discusses some high level findings from a Jupiter Research report on the dissatisfaction around the implementation and maintenance of Content Management Systems. I don't have access to the report, but very interesting.
AIFIA is starting an initiative, managed by Peter Van Dijck, to try and promote, educate and generally talk about IA in an international context. If you would like to get involved with the discussion, point your browser to the Aifia-translation -- international information architecture discussion list.
It sure would be nice if the best of sigia-l was culled periodically. Scott Berkun does this from time to time. Maybe the signal to noise has gotten better on the list?
Wow. The discussion on Christina's site over Adam's interview with Nathan is still going on.