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Ia Toolkit

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an essential toolkit for information architects presented by Bogo Vatovec at the WinWriters 2008 conference

an essential toolkit for information architects presented by Bogo Vatovec at the WinWriters 2008 conference

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  • 1. Techniques and Tools for Information Architects Presented by / Bogo Vatovec Change Management / Knowledge Engineering / User Experience / Interaction Design / Process Engineering
  • 2. What is Information Architecture?
    • Information Architecture is the process of creating a structure for a body of information or content. It is the foundation upon which a sites user interface is laid upon, and the mold that a site's content is laid in.
    • Information architecture is the foundation/a blueprint of the information product upon which all other aspects are built - form, function, metaphor, navigation and interface, interaction, and visual design.
    • (Modified from various sources)
    “ The world can be seen as only connections, nothing else… A piece of information is really only defined by what it’s related to, and how it’s related. There really is little else to meaning. The structure is everything.” — Tim Berners-Lee Weaving the Web
  • 3. What Information Architecture is not?
    • Information Architecture is not:
      • Project management
      • Change management
      • Content management
      • Content writing
      • User interface design/Interaction design
      • Graphic design
    • It has a tight relationship to these disciplines, but it‘s not the same. In a typical project you will need these and other disciplines.
  • 4. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    Key deliverables of the information architecture are summarized in a „Design Document“. But – the real key deliverable of the information architecture is the final product with a usable information design that enables users to reach their goals.
    • 3. Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 5. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    • Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 6. Define the strategy of the information product
    • Objective:
    • Position the product on a product portfolio.
    • Define the reasons for existence of your information product.
    • Define the audience
    • Define the positioning of the product on the market (competitors, other channels)
    • Define the relationships to other related information products
    • During this process, answer questions like:
    • Is my information product really needed?
    • Who should want and have to use it?
    • What should they know at the end?
    • How will you know that the information product met the goals?
  • 7. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    • Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 8. Define user experience Gather and analyze data
    • Objective:
    • Detail the defined target audience from the strategy part and define how they will use your information product.
    • Use the defined target audience as a basis.
    • Gather data about the target audience.
      • You are looking for data on
        • How does the target audience performing a task now without your product?
        • Which information do they need or want?
        • Which functionality do they need or is needed to implement specific content?
      • Use the following methods
        • Brainstorming
        • Interviews
        • Field research
    • Re-assess the defined target audience. Any changes?
  • 9. Define user experience Detail usage scenarios
    • Objective:
    • From the collected data define the desired usage scenarios for your product
    • a usage scenario describes how the user should use your product.
    • for the supporting information products it is recommended to integrate the scenarios with the scenarios of main product.
    • A scenario is typically narrative and can be supported through pictures, flows or comics.
    • Hints:
    • Don‘t get to technical, be creative.
    • Don‘t try to describe all exceptions and variations.
    • Verify scenarios with the development team.
    • A scenario can be compared to use cases but is not as formal.
  • 10. Define user experience Detail personas
    • Objective:
    • From the collected data detail the target audience through personas.
    • Personas illustrates (personifies) a specific target group and improve understanding of the target groups.
    • They are a great tool to bring various groups together (marketing, developers, technical writers, usability)
    • Hints:
    • Base personas on available data.
    • Use personas as a communication tool and as a functional/content check.
  • 11. Example Persona
  • 12. Define user experience Detail task flows – use cases
    • Objective:
    • Using scenarios and personas develop detailed task flows.
    • Describe exact flows how the user will use the product.
    • You can use narrative descriptions or flowcharts. Flowcharts tend to reduce ambiguity.
    • Hints:
    • This activity is often done by user interface designers or system analysts.
    • This activity compares to detailing use cases with all the individual steps.
    • Brainstorm the detailed tasks in a team.
    • Use whiteboards, stick-it notes, or other low-tech tools if necessary.
    • Depending on the iteration you are in, you may need to include all the variations and exceptions to the flow.
  • 13. Define user experience Analyze media
    • Objective:
    • Understand media specifics
    • Analyze and understand capabilities and limitations of the media used for each information product.
    • Try to use synergies between various media and information products.
  • 14. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    • 3. Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 15. Content and functionality Create a content inventory and functional requirements list
    • Objectives:
    • Analyze existing content and functionality for re-use.
    • Identify new content and functionality from scenarios, personas and task analysis.
    • Collect and assess the existing content (content inventory).
    • Identify content requirements from scenarios, personas and task analysis.
    • Evaluate existing functionality.
    • Identify functional requirements from scenarios, personas and task analysis.
    • Structure content to content groups/categories.
    • Hints:
    • Do not underestimate the effort behind this task. It can easily be the most complex task in the project.
    • You may need to use or develop tools to do this.
  • 16. Example Content Inventory tool
  • 17. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    • 3. Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 18. Content structure Create the architectural blueprint
    • Objectives:
    • Create the essential structure of the information product – architectural blueprint.
    • Create a hierarchical structure of information (TOC, sitemap)
    • Identify various content objects using your content inventory. Identify and model their attributes. For example: task procedure, concept description, news, generic article, biography.
    • Use techniques like card sorting and affinity diagrams.
    • Hints:
    • Use any tools you feel comfortable with. Flipcharts and whiteboards, Visio, PowerPoint, MindMaps, …
    • You may need to create two blueprints: one purely hierarchical, one showing interactions/relationships.
    • Expand your visual vocabulary as needed to show the information of your concern, for example, protected and non-protected content objects, …
  • 19. Example: the architectural blueprint
  • 20. Example: interaction blueprint
  • 21. Content structure Define global and local navigation
    • Objectives:
    • Define navigational paths and navigational help elements for the information product.
    • Global navigation are navigational elements that are always available wherever the user is in the information product. For example, main navigation, chapter heading, page number, …
    • Local navigation is content object specific and is only used in a local context. For example, references in an index section, related links, …
    • Hints:
    • Global navigation must give the user a clear picture of where they are related to other main content areas.
    • Local navigation expands the navigation capabilities with „see also“ and „similar topics“ concepts. This is where meta-data can play a significant role.
  • 22. Content structure Define meta-data
    • Objectives:
    • Develop a meta-data structure for identification of content objects.
    • Meta-data structure depends largely on medium used and can be a simple index or a complex meta-tags structure for database search.
    • Decide whether you want fixed keywords meta-data structure and/or a flexible user defined structure (folksonomy.)
    • Note that meta-data is not so important from the search aspect, but from the aspect of creating relationships between content objects.
    • Hints:
    • Consider you audience. If they are regular users of sites like flickr, they may be inclined to do meta-tagging on their own.
    • Creating an fixed meta-data structure is large job and it makes content management complex.
  • 23. Key deliverables of the Information Architecture
    • Design document
    • 1. Strategy
    • 1.1Goals
    • 1.2 Positioning
    • 2. User experience
    • 2.1 Audience analysis
      • 2.2 Personas and Scenarios
      • 2.3 Task flows
      • 2.4 Media analysis
    • Content and functionality
      • 3.1 Content inventory
      • 3.2 Functional requirements
    • 4. Content structure
      • 4.1 Architectural blueprint
      • 4.2 Global and local navigation
      • 4.3 Metadata
    • 5. Visual design
      • 5.1 Layout blueprints
      • 5.2 Design sketches
      • 5.3 Visual Mock-ups
    • 6. Prototypes
  • 24. Visual design Create layout blueprints (design grids)
    • Objectives:
    • Design the essential layout for various content objects.
    • Design visual page layout for various basic content groups/objects (task description, reference material, news, …).
    • Consider placement and behavior of the global navigation.
    • Consider various attributes of the content object (title, sub-title, summary, text, related links, …)
    • Hints:
    • Do not detail visual design. We are still creating a functional design blueprint.
  • 25. Example: Layout blueprints
  • 26. Where do I learn more?
    • Experience
    • Volunteer at nonprofit organizations 
    • ASIST - American Society for Information Science & Technology (www.asist.org)
    • STC Information Architecture & Design SIG (ww.stc.org)
    • Apprenticeship
    • Work with an expert and find a mentor
    • Formal education
    • Few to none available. It‘s a new field at a crossroad.
    • Seminars
    • Universities, conferences, consulting firms
    • Conferences
    • Literature
    • Lots of books, reports, and results available
    • Rosenfeld, Morville: Information Architecture for the WWW
    • Online resources: blogs, websites
  • 27. Thank you! Bogo Vatovec bovacon Boxhagener Str. 111 / 10245 Berlin T +49 30 20078666 / F +49 30 20078661 / office@bovacon.com / www.bovacon.com © 2007, Bogo Vatovec, bovacon

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