Articles, essays, editorials, white papers

Taxonomies: An Eye for the Needle

In Intelligent Enterprise, an article on business taxonomies.

Knowledge workers want content management applications to impose order on document chaos. The order imposed must model the business domain they work in. They see the taxonomy of a corporate portal as the key mechanism for managing content according to domain-relevant topics. The taxonomy a structure for categorizing text content by topic is the piece of the content management application that knowledge workers depend on most and, therefore, the piece they use for measuring its success.

Classifying web content

In New Thinking, Gerry McGovern talks about classifying web site content. He offers some tips in implementing and testing a simple classification scheme.

Classification is to content as mapping is to geography. It is an essential tool that allows the person visiting a website to navigate it quickly and efficiently. Without professional classification a website becomes a jumble yard of content that is confusing and time wasting. Before the Web, classification was some peripheral activity that happened deep in the bowels of the library. But the Web is a library. It is a place where people come to quickly find content. Quality classification facilitates them in doing that.

Design: static pages are dead: how a modular approach is changin

ACM interactions article by Julie Pokorny discussing modular template-based design for sites with frequently updated content. Users of the Internet have become increasingly sophisticated in their expectations for the content and timeliness of informational Web sites. This is especially true for sites that deliver real-time information. For example, content portals such as Yahoo! provide late-breaking news through content management systems, and sites such as have realized that in addition to serving their core users, they can also syndicate their contents to a variety of other sites. ... It is not enough to design templates that structure navigation and visual identity. Truly dynamic presentation of information will take a modular approach, and templates will need to include a rule structure that specifies how content and interactions are combined. As content management and other systems enable and demand such modular approaches, the role of the information architect becomes more challenging.


In grokdotcom, John Quarto-vonTivadar on wireframing. In web-speak, a wireframe is a skeletal rendering of every click-through possibility on your site - a text-only "action," "decision" or "experience" model. Its purpose is to maintain the flow of your specific logical and business functions by identifying all the entry and exit points your users will experience on every page of your site. The goal is to ensure your needs and the needs of your visitors will be met effectively in the resulting website. You wireframe first, before a single line of code is written, a single graphic or color is chosen, or a single word of copy is composed. Wireframing is not concerned with design, navigational layout, content or even the developers' and designers' concepts of how to produce your website.

Taking A Content Inventory

This is where the rubber hits the road for me. In October's WebTechniques, Janice Crotty Fraser takes you through the process of doing content inventory Adaptive Path style, with IA techniques developed with Jesse James Garret. This is the jumping off point for a lot of information organization and taxonomy work -- the content inventory. It is the area where I've spent most of my time over the past year. There is truth in her observation that the work comes down to human hours and excel. A great read for people who want to learn how to use tools to make content inventories work for you and your clients. Here's how Crotty Fraser sums up: You need to know what you have to work with before you can organize it better. The inventory, above all else, helps you get to know the content deeply; this is as important to a re-architecture as understanding user goals and business goals. Make associations across groupings, identify redundancies, and slice it along a different grain.

A divided approach to Web site design: Separating content and visuals for rapid

Jeanette Fuccella (Human Factors Engineer) and Jack Pizzolato (Web Site Designer), both at IBM, have posted this paper on how to overcome obstacles in the site development cycle by separating content and visuals using wire frames.
Abstract from the paper:

    "A well-designed Web site fuses great content and effective visuals, among other elements. Ironically, integrating these elements too early in the design process can mask problems that might otherwise be detected early, and lengthen the design cycle. This paper describes a way to shorten your design cycle by getting focused, early user feedback on the different layers of your design."
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