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Modeling Concepts ~ IA Summit 2009
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Modeling Concepts ~ IA Summit 2009


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Information architects need better tools for dealing with complex design problems like faceted browsing, template-driven displays, and content management systems. Site maps show a web site’s …

Information architects need better tools for dealing with complex design problems like faceted browsing, template-driven displays, and content management systems. Site maps show a web site’s underlying structure, but render every page literally. Such views of the site are hopelessly obsolete before they reach the printer. They do not account for modern approaches to designing navigation systems. Database- and CMS-driven sites, for example, offer greater flexibility in storing and displaying content. Our deliverables must be able to keep up.

Concept models offer an alternative that better approximate the underlying structures of today’s web sites. By documenting a site’s foundation at a greater level of abstraction, concept models provide designers better insight into the user experience.

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  • •Site maps are about belonging
    •Site maps tend to represent basic navigation experience

  • •Flows are rigid about cause & effect
    •Flows focus on activities
    •Flows have a distinct beginning and end
    •Flows must show a transformation

  • •trends over time

  • •State requirements
    •Establish design direction
    ▼Clarify domain or context
    •Design synthesis

  • •Discussion
    •with stakeholders
    •with self

  • •Explicit relationships
    •Relationships by linking
    •Concepts = nouns
    •up to 3 dozen concepts

  • •Central core concept
    •Core diad, triad, or quad
    •Value proposition backbone
    •Focus on relationships (eg: user experience model)

  • •Early in project
    •Anticipate iteration
    •Ideal for domain mapping: lightbulb
    •Operational model: gears

  • •Early in project
    •Anticipate iteration
    •Ideal for domain mapping: lightbulb
    •Operational model: gears

  • •Early in project
    •Anticipate iteration
    •Ideal for domain mapping: lightbulb
    •Operational model: gears

  • ▼

    •Trash business/technical distinctionguys with gears/$/paintbrush pointed at them, crossed out
    ▼Think in terms of characteristics
    •detail-orientedguy with magnifying glass
    •eager to contributeguy carrying stuff
    •able to abstractthought bubble

    PurposePurpose: structure, domain

    •Describe structure of site
    •Illustrate underlying domain


    •The domain is more/less complex than we imagined
    •There are important relationships here not readily apparent



  • ▼
    Type: What kind of model should I make?


    Scope: What concepts should I include?

    •Start with too many or start with what you know
    •Add as many as you can
    •Refer to planning decisions to quantify scope
    •When in doubt, take it out: focus on legibility, show simpler versions initially, add elaboration later

    Detail: How much information should I include?

    Abstraction: At what level should the concepts be?

    •To what extent are you going to analyze or synthesize concepts?
    •Force yourself to identify narrower and/or broader concepts

    Relationships: Which aspects of the network should I highlight?

    •Find compelling relationships: passive voice and belonging are mundane

    Visual Language for Concepts

    •Identify opportunities to imply relationships through placement
    •Dont' be afraid to repeat concepts as they get further away from the central ideas, but be sure to use consistent visual language to draw
    the connection

    Visual Language for Relationships

    •Belonging relationships are easily communicated through placement

  • ▼Uses
    •Domain understanding
    •Requirements definition

  • ▼Impacts
    •No specialized visual language
    •No surrounding context/explanation
    •Not normalized: redundant concepts, redundant/non-existant relationships
    •Strong emphasis on clarifying unfamiliar items through relationships

  • ▼Uses
    •Context-setting: Here's where the product fits
    •Scope-setting: Here's what we're focusing on
    •Vision-setting: Here's what the product will look like

  • ▼Impacts
    •Strong emphasis on the product itself -- maybe mentioned explicitly
    •Lack of detail
    •Strong emphasis on relating familiar items with unfamiliar items

  • ▼Uses
    •Describe site structure or content strategy
    •Describe operational structure

  • ▼Impacts
    •Roles incorporated: icons showing different jobs pointing at person
    •Focused on familiar items only, though expressed differently (press release -> article template)
    •Relationships describe navigation between templates
    •Relationships describe ways concepts impact/influence each other (for interactive systems): soccer ball

  • ▼
    Two-by-two: Concept models in context

    •Relationships implied by comparisons
    •Relationships driven by criteria
    ▼Quantities are relative, not absolute
    •If you start plotting points, you're into quantitative
    •Adding a third dimension: scale (size of circle)
    •Four kinds of X in the world
    ▼When to use 2x2
    •Comparing concepts
    •Key dimensions/criteria are salient
    •Drive decisions based on criteria

  • ▼

    •Multiple aspects of a single set of concepts
    •Usually linear
    •Non-human comics
    ▼When to Use Comics
    •Relationships are narrative
    •Relationships are relative perspectives on a central idea
    •Break an idea into component parts

  • ▼
    Illustration models

    •Less explicit relationships
    •Relationships by relative placement (vs. linking)
    •Less rigid noun-verb distinction
    •1 dozen concepts
    ▼When to use illustration models
    •elaborating on a node model
    •Relationships are more abstract
    •Relationships are self-evident or not as crucial

  • Transcript

    • 1. Modeling Concepts New IA Techniques for a Web 2.0 World by Dan Brown, EightShapes IA Summit 2009, Memphis, TN, USA 1 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 2. Agenda What and Why ✦ The Basics: Node Models ✦ Planning Decisions ✦ Content Decisions ✦ Concept Models in Process ✦ Other Kinds of Models ✦ 2 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 3. Introductions About Me ✦ About You ✦ Who are you? ✦ Where do you work? ✦ Why are you here? ✦ 3 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 4. What and Why 4 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 5. Social Networking in the Geography Functional Silos Social helps overcome Workers Obstacles Networking like... Time Contribut- ors are Financial Constraints Creators Watchers Participants conceal limit depends on Curators Innovation Evangelists Subject Customers Matter Problem- Experts Solving must encourage Productivity & depend Work Interactions Resources support Colleagues on Efficiency Product Corporate depends on Culture Responsive- ness Partners Knowledge must embrace must value Support exposes Sharing Flexibility Feedback Technology enables Platform sits on Virtual Environment 5 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 6. How this helped... Highlights otherwise buried ✦ concepts. Shifts conversation. ✦ Draws connections. ✦ Conveys complex relationships. ✦ Eliminates redundancies. ✦ Contextualizes concepts. ✦ 6 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 7. In the landscape of 7 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 8. vs. Site Maps 8 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 9. vs. Flow Charts 9 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 10. vs. Quantitative Charts 10 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 11. What do concept models 11 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 12. What do they accomplish? 12 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 13. What would YOU use concept models 13 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 14. The Basics 14 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 15. Characteristics 15 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 16. Variations 16 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 18. 18 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 19. CONTENT Feedback Taxonomy Instruction Metadata INTERACTION Flow Fields STRUCTURE 19 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 20. 20 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 21. is program coach associated with is which associated coaches supports with is family athlete sport supported plays by of Special Olympics has friend featured nected through participates competed who became in in in sporting who leads who helped volunteer initiative sponsor event local fund who encouraged who helps who then which which friend to become with helped with initiated contacted fundraising volunteer event 21 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 22. 22 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 23. Type creates Product Manufacturer prepares describes demo/video Document spec references catalog brochure creates describes uses Solution Editor describes writes contributes to Content rates Builder article 23 review Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 24. When to use 24 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 25. When to use 24 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 26. When to use 24 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 27. When to use 24 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 28. Planning Decisions 25 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 29. The Decisions 26 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 30. Audience 27 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 31. Audience 27 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 32. Audience 28 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 33. Audience 28 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 34. Exercise Create a simple node model 29 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 35. Film Distribution The primary agenda of the distributor is to apply to all films subsequently booked, convince the exhibitor to rent, or quot;bookquot;, each although on occasion some of the terms, such film. To this end the distributor usually as the percentage of the gross to be paid by arranges industry screenings for exhibitors, the exhibitor, may be varied with regard to a and uses other marketing techniques that will particular film. make the exhibitor believe they will profit financially by showing the film. The distributor must also ensure that enough film prints are struck to service all contracted Once this is accomplished, the distributor then exhibitors on the contract-based opening day, secures a written contract stipulating the ensure their physical delivery to the theater by amount of the gross ticket sales to be paid to the opening day, monitor exhibitors to make the distributor (usually a percentage of the sure the film is in fact shown in the particular gross after first deducting a quot;floorquot;, which is theatre with the minimum number of seats and called a quot;house allowancequot; (also known as the show times, and ensure the prints' return to quot;nutquot;), collect the amount due, audit the the distributor's office or other storage exhibitor's ticket sales as necessary to ensure resource also on the contract-based return the gross reported by the exhibitor is accurate, date. In practical terms, this includes the secure the distributor's share of these physical production of film prints and their proceeds, and transmit the remainder to the shipping around the world (a process that is production company (or to any other beginning to be replaced by digital distribution) intermediary, such as a film release agent). as well as the creation of posters, newspaper Ordinarily there are standard blanket contracts and magazine advertisements, television between a distributor and an exhibitor that commercials, trailers, and other types of ads. 30 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 36. Content Decisions 31 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 37. 32 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 38. Concept Models in Process 33 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 39. 34 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 40. 35 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 41. Uses 36 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 42. Impact on Content 37 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 43. 38 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 44. 38 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 45. Uses 39 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 46. Impact on Content 40 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 47. 41 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 48. 41 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 49. Uses 42 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 50. Impact on Content 43 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 51. Exercise Share your model 44 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 52. Other Concept Models 45 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 53. 46 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 54. PRODUCT Component Offerings Resources PRODUCT PRODUCT Category Trends Industries PRODUCT Edition Solutions Customer Profiles SOLUTION Articles, etc. Products Press Release Software Hardware SERVICE Services Case Studies SERVICE Multimedia Category Education & Training Initiatives THEME Promotions Events Partners GROUP Downloads Forums Policies Suppliers Governance PREVIEW Documentation Jobs ARTICLE Investor Relations User Groups Overview EVENT Support Company HOME 47 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 55. Preference A Segment 1 Segment 2 Priorities: blah. Priorities: blah. Concerns: blah. Concerns: blah. Aptitude: blah. Aptitude: blah. Design Strategy: Design Strategy: • Design Principle. • Design Principle. 45-74 45-74 25-44 25-44 • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. 13-24 13-24 • Design Principle. • Design Principle. Interests by Age Group Interests by Age Group • Interest • Interest • Interest • Interest • Interest • Interest Behavior A Behavior B Segment 3 Segment 4 Priorities: blah. Priorities: blah. Concerns: blah. Concerns: blah. Aptitude: blah. Aptitude: blah. Design Strategy: Design Strategy: 45-74 45-74 25-44 25-44 • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. 13-24 13-24 • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. • Design Principle. Interests by Age Group Interests by Age Group • Interest • Interest • Interest • Interest Preference B • Interest • Interest 48 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 56. Users may add a portlet more than once to any of their portals, though portlets Two portlets of the same type share a BUT two portlets of the same type 1 2 3 added in one place are not automatically added elsewhere. data source. may appear di erently. !quot;#$%&$'() !quot;#$%&$'(* !quot;#$%&$'() !quot;#$%&$'(* !quot;#$%&'()*+ !quot;#$%&'()*0 Changing the look of one portlet BUT changes to the data source from 4 5 does not a ect the appearance of one portlet do a ect other portlets other portlets of the same type. of the same type. "#12)1 !quot;#$%&$'() !quot;#$%&$'(* !quot;#$%&$'() !quot;#$%&$'(* ,-* ./%(quot; 49 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 57. Conceptual Model of a Community Centric WebSite. Social Technographics Pro le Of Website Audience Au d i e n ce ( B l o g g e r ) S i te w/detachable LEGEND s h a re d co nte nt Current Audience 35-44 Index: All adults = 100 Future Audience 25-34 Creators 21% 100/129 27% Brand Umbrella 42% Critics 114/108 40% Public Internet Collectors 19% 100/111 21% Community 32% Joiners 91/149 52% Core Tools Spectators 68% 99/104 B ra n d 72% (Wish List, Shopping, Pro le) Ap e r t u re 27% Inactives 108/76 19% Brand Module D a t a f r o m F o r r e s t e r R e s e a r c h Te c h n o g r a p h i c s ® s u r v e y s , 2 0 0 8 . F o r f u r t h e r d e t a i l s o n t h e S o c i a l Te c h n o g r a p h i c s p r o f i l e , Branded Theme Module s e e g r o u n d s w e l l . f o r r e s t e r. c o m . B ra n d B ra n d Marketing Spiral on a Community Centric WebSite Lifestyle/Editorial Community Community Content (article, idea, comment, tip) A nity Community Member Conversation In uencer L i fe s t y l e / B ra n d Participation Internal Marketing Ed i to r i a l Resource Branded Engagement Public Content Interaction Audience [Non-member] B ra n d © David//Armano Wi l l Eva n s Awareness Us e r E x p e r i e n ce Arc h i te c t S e m a nt i c Fo u n d r y, L LC 50 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 58. agenda agenda tool message tool message tool message skills habits skills habits 51 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 59. Exercise Adapt your model or iterate upon it 52 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 60. What are your take-awa 53 Monday, March 23, 2009
    • 61. Thanks! social networks: 54 Monday, March 23, 2009