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(Join me and Alyson Riley on Thursday, October 3, 2013, 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time for this STC Web seminar!) Need to deliver a consistent information experience across a broad set of content, ...

(Join me and Alyson Riley on Thursday, October 3, 2013, 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time for this STC Web seminar!) Need to deliver a consistent information experience across a broad set of content, audiences, or business requirements? Learn how user-centered experience modeling can help you deliver world-class information architecture. Explore examples from IBM's work with abstract models and discover methods for using experience models at the team and enterprise level.

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Modeling Information Experiences: A Recipe for Consistent Architecture Presentation Transcript

  • 1. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Modeling Information Experiences: A Recipe for Consistent Information Architecture Andrea L. Ames IBM Content Experience Strategist/Architect/Designer Alyson Riley IBM Content Strategist STC Web Seminar 03 October 2013 © IBM Corporation 2013. All Rights Reserved
  • 2. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 2 About Andrea Technical communicator since 1983 Areas of expertise Information experience design: Content strategy, information architecture, and interaction design for content display and delivery, within products and interactive information delivery systems Architecture, design, and development of embedded assistance (content within or near the product user interface) Information and product usability, from analysis through validation User-centered process for information development and information experience design IBM Senior Technical Staff Member on corporate Client Technical Content Experience team in the IBM CIO office University of CA Extension certificate coordinator and instructor STC Fellow, past president (2004-05), former member of Board of Directors (1998-2006), and Intercom columnist (with Alyson Riley) of The Strategic IA ACM Distinguished Engineer
  • 3. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 3 About Alyson Technical communicator since 1995 Areas of expertise Content strategy Content metrics—the business value of content Information architecture (my first love!) Interaction design for content delivery vehicles, and interactive content Information and product usability, from analysis through validation User-centered processes for content strategy and scenario-driven information architecture IBM Senior Content Strategist on corporate Client Technical Content Experience team in the IBM CIO Office Senior Member of STC, and Intercom columnist (with Andrea Ames) of The Strategic IA
  • 4. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 4 Agenda Part One Models, defined Why we (should) care What models do for us Part Two Key types of models: Use, Content, Access, and Information Developing models Applying models Backup: Model-development details
  • 5. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 5 Introduction: IA & models IA is scientific: It requires us to follow repeatable processes It requires us to clearly define metrics It requires us to define and validate theories It requires us to identify variables It requires us to know about things like human cognition IA is art: We develop a deep understanding of the human experience We create meaning We create simplicity and elegance out of complexity and chaos Models help IAs blend science and art to achieve measurable results: They help us follow the scientific method by defining and refining theories until we achieve predictable, consistent results They help us ask the right questions, discover patterns, and tolerate the ambiguity that comes from dealing with people They help us discover solutions by applying concepts in a systematic manner nuanced by a vision for the human experience—NOT by following rules and recipes
  • 6. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 6 Models, defined: an example Model house A blueprint that shows the ideal state of the whole and ideal relationships between constituent components A pattern for perfection A representation of what’s possible if price were no object Real house  Might differ from the model— sometimes significantly—but is still recognizable as a home  Purpose, form, and structure are the same  Details may vary as a result of the humans involved
  • 7. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 7 Lessons about models from our model home example Models are a pattern, not a rule Patterns are always adapted to the “fabric” with which you’re working Fundamental purpose, form, and structure remain the same Details may vary according to human need or circumstances Note: If your circumstances include things like “the developer says so” or “but we’ve always done it this way,” we strongly encourage you to roll up your sleeves and fight for your user! Sometimes details are a big deal Which house would you want to live in? Good architects leverage the flexibility of the model only in ways that benefit the humans involved (example: “I just don’t like windows” isn’t a reason to break from the model) Good architects always balance business issues (cost, time, etc.) with user issues (wants and needs) What’s boring in neighborhoods can be good for user experiences Consistency is predictability Consistency leads to recognizable brands and strong identity
  • 8. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 8 In case you’re still lost: another example model real
  • 9. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 9 Why models? Models help businesses think Think, not cut-and-paste For many larger organizations, it’s too expensive to develop templates for every possible design context Templates are hard-coded and can’t handle more than cut-and-paste design work Scalability and adaptability Abstract models scale with increases in complexity, number and diversity of users Models are abstract, and as a result, ensure the information architecture remains above the fray of trends and change Abstract models can be adapted to handle technological innovation, changes in strategy, flux in a product portfolio, new business processes, and evolution in the market Focus on high-value user interactions Abstract models force an organization to identify, prioritize, and design for the user interactions that are critical to business success Technology, marketing strategies, and brand identity may evolve— core user interactions are more stable Consistency, with room for creativity Abstract models can be used to align all aspects of a content experience Abstract models drive focus on predictable user interactions while allowing for interesting change at the presentation level
  • 10. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 10 Why models? Models help users think What users want to think about Users want to think about their primary goals and tasks Users do not want to spend time on figuring out how to use our frameworks to achieve their goals and tasks Our job is to eliminate cognitive load and help users focus mental space on what’s really important to them Toward an invisible architecture Good abstract models are based on cognitive science and user-centered design principles As such, abstract models help us deliver an information architecture that users don’t have to think about Abstract models help our users maintain focus the things they really care about —not navigating our framework Abstract models make obvious things like: What to do next Where to go next Whether the information answers the question How to find more or different information that will answer the question Thanks to Steve Krug and his first law of usability —“Don't make me think!” Thanks to Steve Krug and his first law of usability —“Don't make me think!”
  • 11. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 11 Why models? Models help communicators think Abstract models remove the guesswork for technical communicators Abstract models provide a framework for teams to think through things like: Access Delivery Content Presentation Currency Maintenance Invaluable for teams new to information architecture or who lack a dedicated information architect on their projects Abstract models encapsulate lots of helpful theory The best abstract models reflect current theory and research into human cognition, user information-seeking and processing behaviors, and so on This enables teams to focus less on theory and more on the specifics of their target users and their needs, and how best to apply the models in their design contexts Teams learn by experience, with a solid foundation
  • 12. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 12 Why models? Models help IAs think Abstract models encourage an IA to: Keep user needs and business strategy in the forefront of her thinking Take risks and be creative in an intelligent, calculated, data- centered, purpose-driven manner Maintain the integrity of the overarching experience—that is, ensure that the fundamental purpose, form, and structure of the information experience remain the same Tailor an information experience to meet specific user needs or business challenges—that is, allow freedom in the details as dictated by user need Avoid confining an information experience to template boundaries Keep the focus on outcomes—results, not rules
  • 13. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 13 Key types of models Use Model Content Model Access Model Information Model Defines ideal interactions between users and information—what they need, why they need it, what they’re doing when they need it, and how they’ll use it. Defines standard building blocks of content, from the atomic level to larger “deliverables,” including subject, presentation, taxonomy, and metadata. Defines a vision for how users will find your information, including organization, structure, relationships between chunks of information and full deliverables, and a big picture view of navigation strategies. Defines how all dimensions of the information experience fit together and how content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to produce a concrete, project- specific, and user-centered information architecture
  • 14. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 14 Developing a Use Model: Steps 1. Develop use scenarios. Describe user interactions with the system. Develop a scenario for each type of system/subsystem in the product, offering, or solution. List the high-value tasks (vs. system features). 2. Develop information-use scenarios. Describe the ideal user interaction with content. Ensure that information scenarios follow use scenarios. 3. Validate the model.
  • 15. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 15 Developing a Use Model: Result A standard set of scenarios that describe an optimal user experience with information A standard set of user information requirements for specific product or system contexts A document describing how the use model can be applied to produce an offering-specific information architecture
  • 16. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 1. Leverage your use model to determine users’ information needs: The subjects and atomic units of information your users will need The best ways to structure and combine the information The best presentation style and media to communicate the information The deliverable (or delivery vehicle) that will work best 1. Standardize common subjects of information in an enterprise-level taxonomy (a structured collection of terms that describe what the information is about). 2. Standardize your list of required atomic units of information—the information objects that you can’t break down into smaller pieces without making them meaningless. 3. Define standard information deliverables and delivery vehicles, specifying how to combine atomic units of information and common subjects to deliver understandable, stand-alone information products that humans will see and touch. 4. Develop presentation templates, indicating how to use media to present the information deliverables for human consumption. 6. Validate your model. 16 Developing a Content Model: Steps
  • 17. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 17 Developing a Content Model: Result A document describing required and optional deliverables (collections of information atoms), how they relate to one another and are used and delivered, and how the content model can be applied to produce an offering-specific information architecture A collection of templates—one for each deliverable—describing the required and optional elements of each
  • 18. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 18 Developing an Access Model: Steps 1. Leverage your use model to determine how users are most likely to access (or need to access) your content to: Searching for and finding relevant information Following leads when searching Scanning an information space to develop a sense of its contents Staying informed about updates or new content Evaluating information for relevance Using information to achieve a goal 1. Define the overarching strategy for user access to information. 2. Depict how a collection of access methods work together to accommodate the wide range of user behaviors when navigating to and within an information space. 3. Validate your model.
  • 19. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) A document describing the overall access strategy, how multiple access methods work together, and the details about how specific areas of access can be supported, as well as how the content model can be applied to produce an offering-specific information architecture Any technology, business requirements, and user needs that emerge from the detailed access-related patterns, schemes, and strategies 19 Developing an Access Model: Result
  • 20. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 20 Developing an Information Model: Steps 1. Start with the output of the other three modeling processes—use each of the other models as input to the Information Model. 2. Define a high-level information architecture that defines the entire information strategy and experience. 3. Define one or more low-level information architectures that are focused on the details of specific pieces of the total information solution. 4. Validate your model.
  • 21. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 21 Developing an Information Model: Result A written description of an information strategy—that is, a document describing the abstract model that includes: How all dimensions of the information experience fit together How content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to the abstract information model in order to produce a concrete, project-specific, and user-centered information architecture
  • 22. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 22 Applying your models, part 1 Models have value when applied systematically: They enable IAs to develop usable architectures that in turn make it easy for users to accomplish their goals with your product, project, solution or other kind of offering. They provide a consistent information experience across multiple products, product families, or enterprises—even if information in various places are developed by different writers and architects, or if offerings have different product strategies or goals. They also help writing teams by providing a framework for discovering important details such as: The order of user tasks Which tasks to emphasize (and not) The appropriate level of detail to include The type of information to provide (expertise vs. “click this”) The potential for gaps between tasks or across components or products Content to include in any examples or samples
  • 23. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 23 Applying your models, part 2 It’s important to validate across several different instances of the applied model to ensure that the model works when instantiated with various types of products or systems. The key to applying the models is in the process of developing your offering-specific information architecture.
  • 24. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 24 Additional resources Web resources: The Society for Technical Communication—http://www.stc.org Be sure to check out Intercom magazine’s regular column, “The Strategic IA,” written by Andrea Ames and Alyson Riley. In particular, check out and leave your thoughts on the January 2012 edition—a special edition devoted to information architecture! Boxes and Arrows—http://www.boxesandarrows.com The Information Architecture Institute—http://iainstitute.org Print resources: James Kalbach. “Designing for Information Foragers: A Behavioral Model for Information Seeking on the World Wide Web.” Internetworking, Internet Technical Group newsletter. 27 January 2001. Available at http://www.internettg.org/newsletter/dec00/article_information_foragers.html. William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler. (2010) Universal Principles of Design. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers. (ISBN 978-1592535873)  Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. (1998) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media. (ISBN 978-0596527341) Jeffrey Rubin and Dan Chisnell. (2008) Handbook of Usability Testing, 2nd ed. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishing, Inc. (ISBN 978-0470185483) Richard Saul Wurman. (1997) Peter Bradford, ed. Information Architects. New York: Graphis. (ISBN 978-1888001389) These charts on slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/aames/modeling-information- experiences-a-recipe-for-consistent-architecture
  • 25. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) © IBM Corporation 2013. All Rights Reserved Questions? Comments?
  • 26. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Backup Model-development details © IBM Corporation 2013. All Rights Reserved
  • 27. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Defines how all dimensions of the information experience fit together and how content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to produce a concrete, project- specific, and user-centered information architecture 27 Key types of models Content Model Access Model Information Model Defines ideal interactions between users and information—what they need, why they need it, what they’re doing when they need it, and how they’ll use it. Defines standard building blocks of content, from the atomic level to larger “deliverables,” including subject, presentation, taxonomy, and metadata. Defines a vision for how users will find your information, including organization, structure, relationships between chunks of information and full deliverables, and a big picture view of navigation strategies. Use Model
  • 28. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 28 Developing a Use Model, part 1 1. Develop use scenarios Describe user interactions with the system. Develop a scenario for each type of system/subsystem in offering/solution. Be sure the scenarios provide insight into questions such as: Who are the users? What are their goals? What’s the purpose of the product, system or solution? What tasks will users do with the product? (Be sure to decompose high-level tasks into lower-level tasks or procedures. Identify prerequisite tasks and any dependencies for successful task completion.) Which tasks are the high-value ones necessary for achieving a broader goal, and which ones are tasks merely required as a result of product design or system features?
  • 29. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 29 Developing a Use Model, part 2 2. Develop information-use scenarios Describe the ideal user interaction with content. Ensure that information scenarios follow use scenarios. Be sure the scenarios provide insight into questions such as: What information do users need to complete the tasks defined in the product- or system-usage scenarios, and at what points during product use is the information needed? What information do users need to achieve their broader business or personal objectives? How will users experience or interact with that information, both for their own goals and as required by product or system tasks? Be sure to address this question for each of the necessary tasks you have defined in your product or system lifecycle. How close to the product or system user interface does the information need to be? Is it the interface? Or does it support the interface? Is it task-disruptive to take the user away from the primary product or system interface to access the information they need?
  • 30. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 30 Developing a Use Model, part 3 3. Validate the model. Socialize it. Conduct reviews with members of your IA community. Validate with customers, in several concrete contexts, if possible.
  • 31. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Defines how all dimensions of the information experience fit together and how content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to produce a concrete, project- specific, and user-centered information architecture 31 Key types of models Use Model Access Model Information Model Defines ideal interactions between users and information—what they need, why they need it, what they’re doing when they need it, and how they’ll use it. Defines standard building blocks of content, from the atomic level to larger “deliverables,” including subject, presentation, taxonomy, and metadata. Defines a vision for how users will find your information, including organization, structure, relationships between chunks of information and full deliverables, and a big picture view of navigation strategies. Content Model
  • 32. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 32 Developing a Content Model, part 1 1. Leverage your use model to determine users’ information needs: The subjects and atomic units of information your users will need The best ways to structure and combine these building blocks of information to reflect the user’s task flow The best presentation style and media to communicate this information to users given their skills and the tasks they’re trying to accomplish, such as, interaction or information, text or images, static images or moving images, audio, or combinations of these The deliverable (or delivery vehicle) that will work best, such as, product- or system-embedded information, topics and multimedia in a hypertext environment, animation with voice- over, podcast
  • 33. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 33 Developing a Content Model, part 2 2. Standardize common subjects of information, or a common collection of terms that describe what the information is about, in an enterprise-level taxonomy. 3. Standardize your list of required atomic units of information, or the information objects that you can’t break down into smaller pieces without making them meaningless. Hint: Consider DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) and its information types (concept, task, and so on) and specializations.
  • 34. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 34 Developing a Content Model, part 3 4. Define standard information deliverables and delivery vehicles, or how you combine atomic units of information and common subjects to deliver understandable, stand-alone information products that humans will see and touch. 5. Develop presentation templates, or how you will use media to present the information deliverables for human consumption. Consider the templates necessary to ensure an integrated, consistent user experience. Develop new templates by starting with those that are most impactful to your user’s information experience or that support business priorities.
  • 35. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 35 Developing a Content Model, part 4 6. Validate your model. Socialize it. Conduct reviews with members of the enterprise-wide IA community. Validate with customers, in several concrete content contexts, if possible.
  • 36. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Defines how all dimensions of the information experience fit together and how content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to produce a concrete, project- specific, and user-centered information architecture 36 Key types of models Use Model Content Model Information Model Defines ideal interactions between users and information—what they need, why they need it, what they’re doing when they need it, and how they’ll use it. Defines standard building blocks of content, from the atomic level to larger “deliverables,” including subject, presentation, taxonomy, and metadata. Defines a vision for how users will find your information, including organization, structure, relationships between chunks of information and full deliverables, and a big picture view of navigation strategies. Access Model
  • 37. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) Developing an Access Model, part 1 Stay informed about updates or new content How will you ensure that users have the most up-to-date content? How will you communicate the availability of fresh or refreshed content? Evaluate information for relevance How will you help users discover the value of your information as it relates to their goals and needs? What techniques will you use to distinguish information objects from one another? Will you allow users to apply their own metadata to help themselves and others with differentiation? Use information to achieve a goal What techniques will you use for in-page or in- task wayfinding and discovery? Will you allow users to customize the information or the space for their own use, and if so, how? Search for and finding relevant information How do your chosen approaches for information delivery impact its findability? What are the likely entry points into your information architecture—marketing pages, out-of-box materials, Google, “likes” on Facebook? How will your information architecture promote search engine optimization (SEO)? Follow leads when searching How will users find their way through your information space once they’ve found it? Where do your users want or need to go next? How will you enable discovery? Scan an information space to develop a sense of its contents How will you enable users to develop a good mental model of the information within a particular space? How will users self-locate within a navigation hierarchy or other structure? 37 1. Leverage your use model to determine how users are most likely to access (or need to access) your content to:
  • 38. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 38 Developing an Access Model, part 2 2. Define the overarching strategy for user access to information. 3. Depict (with text, images, wireframes and prototypes) how a collection of access methods work together to accommodate the wide range of user behaviors when navigating to and within an information space. Drill down into the user experience and interface associated with specific areas of access, and define things typically associated with IA work like navigation patterns, labeling schemes and linking strategies. 4. Validate your model: Socialize it. Conduct reviews with members of the enterprise-wide IA community. Validate with customers, in several concrete content contexts, if possible.
  • 39. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 39 Key types of models Use Model Content Model Access Model Defines ideal interactions between users and information—what they need, why they need it, what they’re doing when they need it, and how they’ll use it. Defines standard building blocks of content, from the atomic level to larger “deliverables,” including subject, presentation, taxonomy, and metadata. Defines a vision for how users will find your information, including organization, structure, relationships between chunks of information and full deliverables, and a big picture view of navigation strategies. Information Model Defines how all dimensions of the information experience fit together and how content teams can apply product-, solution-, project- or other kinds of offering-specific details to produce a concrete, project- specific, and user-centered information architecture
  • 40. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 40 Developing an Information Model, part 1 1. Start with the output of the other three modeling processes—use each of the other models as input to the Information Model. 2. Define a high-level information architecture that defines the entire information strategy and experience. 3. Define one or more low-level information architectures that are focused on the details of specific pieces of the total information solution. Example: Business strategy or product usability issues might require an information architect to give particular focus to the information strategy in support of a product out-of-box experience—one specific piece within an overarching information architecture.
  • 41. IBM Client Technical Content Experience (CTCX) 41 Developing an Information Model, part 2 4. Validate your model. Socialize it. Conduct reviews with members of the enterprise-wide IA community. Validate with customers, in several concrete content contexts, if possible.