Articles, essays, editorials, white papers

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline

Information Design: The Understanding Discipline - There is not consensus on exactly what information design is. Definitions of the discipline from stakeholders who associate themselves with the field are consistent only in that they are typically high level, not very concrete and do not offer much in the way of direct practical application.

Kneymeyer makes the "Information Design" as uber-discipline argument in a more polished way than when we first covered the discussion over at IDblog. While I completely agree that there needs to be a vision holder, I really don't think that it's in ID's best interest to claim that. And finally, what Dirk is calling "information design" I think is far better served being called "experience design"...

Usability Heuristics for Rich Internet Applications

Usability Heuristics for Rich Internet Applications - Over the coming months and years, RIAs will move from cutting edge to mainstream. That transformation will accelerate with the Flash and user experience communities working together to understand and develop best practices and shared knowledge.

Grant Skinner and I revisited Nielsen's 10 heuristics and share some thoughts on how they apply to Rich Internet Applications. Currently in the comments the debate largely reflects 2 things - animation, and what makes an RIA different than other apps.

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...

International IA

Peter Morville tackles the biggest growth area for IA - not a new technology platform, but IA practice outside the USA.

"Now is the time to actively work on building these international relationships. IA in the US has reached a plateau. We enjoyed major investment and rapid learning in the 1990s. We developed core concepts and methodology, and we experienced the trials and tribulations of interdisciplinary collaboration. As the economy revives, we're positioned to invest real energy in cross-cultural IA."

While I'm not sure about the plateau in the States, I agree that international IA is an exciting area to watch.

Yahoo buys Overture

Stumbled on an AP article through NY Times(Free Reg Required) that Yahoo to buy Overture for $1.6B Deal.

Users, Content, and Context over at

I read Use a compass to implement taxonomy during Web development with some sense of deja vu since it appropriates the Users, Content, Context model of information architecture first defined by Argus. Among other places, the model also appears in the latest edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, and in diagrams I've done with Lou Rosenfeld.

While I may grumble about copyright violation, it's good to see the model reach a wider audience...

Personas and the customer decision-making process

From GUUUI. Henrik Olsen makes some great points and presents a case study on yet another interesting and useful way to use personas.

Read Personas and the customer decision-making process.

Value of Experience, Web Teams

Adaptive Path relaunches their site. Details on the redsign are at Stopdesign's blog.

Of particular interest to me is the shift to value as the key message(note the lack of the word "design" as Peterme recently discussed). Those who read ia/ regularly may have noticed my own focus on value-centered design, so it's gratifying to see others in more influential positions than myself popularize this view.

Along with a new look comes a new article detailing Jesse's web team model (first shown at the DUX open house- correction - at the AP workshops).

Team models are particularly useful because they show the different skillsets required for a project. While using the "Elements" diagram to explain that user experience works at a deeper level than pretty pictures is fine, it requires a lot of effort for business folks to absorb the staffing implications (or RFP implications). Jesse's team model breaks it down into chunks that are easier to relate to team requirements.
thanks asterisk

And the shiny-designy winners are....

The Industrial Design Excellence Awards 2003 (IDEA) - "The Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) are dedicated to fostering business and public understanding of the importance of industrial design excellence to the quality of life and the economy and showcase the best industrial design from across the US and around the world."

I actually find Industrial Design to be closer to IA and user experience practice than many visual design practices, largely because ID deals with creating artifacts that are used, while much print work is designed to create an impression, but not used. Of course, environmental design for signage, or information design for medical labelling are very much "used artifacts" rather than exercises in one-way messaging. thanks [Xplane, Xblog]

Product Research, Hypertext Cycles, and Decision Making

Peter Merholz muses on users seeking products and comes up with some intersting thoughts about hypertext patterns. Rather than getting the "lay of the land" first, users move to an actual product and then start to compare.

He ends with a foray into decision making, and looking for useful resources. While I have more thoughts on the matter, I think it boils down to Return on Experience - everyone has an intrinsic level of effort they'll invest to achieve some expected value.

Understanding information taxonomy helps build better apps article examines basic taxonomy overview.

I'm particularly interested in seeing how IA subjects like this are presented to a wider audience of non-IA specialists. I wonder if a 2 page summary dumbs things down too much, or if it offers a way for interested readers to be introduced to a subject and find resources to learn more.

My article on Navigation for CNET

I recently wrote an article for CNET's on recommendations for web site navigation. I'm targeting software developers like myself, who may not be as familiar with the principles of site design and architecture as usability experts or web designers.

Determine the best elements for Web site navigation

Knowledge Management glossary, primer and bibliography

AOK: Knowledge Strategy newsletter (login required) pointed to these resources for knowledge management:

Digital From Birth: IA for building a digital library

Lillian Woon Gassie and Greta E. Marlatt's case study presentation at the SLA 2003 conference provided a thorough examination of the process undertaken to build a digital library for the Homeland Security program of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. The presentation gave a good idea of the steps leading to the development of the digital library, which will eventually be partially available to the public, but will mainly serve students in the School and other military and civilian people involved in Homeland Security. The presentation touches on goals and rationale for the project, audience and personas, political and monetary constraints, metadata and classification strategies, technical specifications and and analysis of tools and technologies evaluated and selected for the project.

Lillian has posted afew other presentations that may be of interest as well to information architects. As usual, you won't get all the details communicated in a PowerPoint presentation, but when reading the "Digital from Birth" PPT, be sure to look at the very extensive speaking notes that go with each slide.

Digital from Birth: Information Architecture for Building a Digital Library,
presentation with Greta E. Marlatt at the SLA Annual Conference, New York City, June 9, 2003.
Online Presentation | Download PPT file (2.8 MB)

Taxonomies for Communities of Practice,
presentation at the e-Gov Knowledge Management Conference, Washington, D.C., April 16, 2003.

Metadata Tools, Practices and Ontologies,
presentation at the Monterey Bay Area Workshop on Data Management & Visualization, MBARI, Monterey, April 7, 2003.

Benefits of User-Centered Design

The Centers for Disease Control offer a short summary of the benefits of user-centered design (22kb PDF). It's four pages of collected UCD benefit wisdom, from Tom Landauer, Susan Dray, etc. that offers a quick hit for explaining advantages of the UCD approach.

ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 Presentations

ASIS&T has posted all of the presentations from the Information Architecture "Making Connections" Summit in Portland, OR.

Thanks to Gary Price, who I got to meet at SLA.

Goodies From Boxes and Arrows

Boxes and Arrows publishes two great features this week. First, Dan Brown with Special Deliverables #8 - Deliverables and Methods.

Next we have one I found particularly interesting and useful, Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It by Dabney Gough and Holly Phillips.

As always great stuff from B&A.

The Google Dance Syndrome

Interesting article on Google Dance Syndrome by Chris Sherman over at Apparently there are many webmasters out there who are fixated on how they rank in Google to the point they worry and try to optimize. I have to admit I kind of review the sites of many of our web authors in the Google index, but I also review other sites such as Teoma and MSN :) Who doesn't? I'm curious about freshness,coverage, and depth for these engines, and it gives me a good idea about how our sites are doing from referrals from these engines. I'm curious to hear if others monitor their company's sites in the various search engines.

Metadata glossary

In an attempt to summarize the relationship among various metadata-related terms and how they relate to building Internet systems Victor Lombardi created a metadata glossary. Addressed, for example, are metadata, taxonomies, indexing, CMS, Semantic Web, and XML.

XML feed