The IA of /Culture

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A case study of an 18 month project at the Guardian that attempted to use linked data and automated pages to transform our culture coverage from a top-down experience, to a place where the audience can discuss any cultural event or artefact.

The IA of /Culture

  1. 1. “The IA of /Culture" Martin Belam EuroIA, September 2011 Lead User Experience & Information Architect, The Guardian @currybet
  2. 2. The Guardian began in Manchester in 1821
  3. 3. We’ve been on the web since November 1995
  4. 4. And now we have quite a large website Article - 1,321,362 Gallery - 14,657 Video - 10,735 Audio - 10,092 Table - 4942 Cartoon - 4150 Poll - 2738 Interactive - 2323 Quiz - 1290 Competition - 887 Microapps - 121 Total - 1,373,297
  5. 5. We wanted to “mutualise” our arts coveragePhoto by paularps - http://www.flickr.com/photos/slapers/2092300573/
  6. 6. There must be other voices worth listening toPhoto by batmoo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/batmoo/3734838375/
  7. 7. Especially at the more unusual events
  8. 8. Who wouldnt want to know what these two think?
  9. 9. Or this guy?
  10. 10. The review / release / consume cycle is out of synch Preview night Press screenings Promo copies Private view
  11. 11. The review / release / consume cycle is out of synch Preview night Publish review Press screenings Promo copies Private view
  12. 12. The review / release / consume cycle is out of synch Preview night Publish review General release Press screenings Available in iTunes Promo copies Paperback/Kindle editions Private view Public view
  13. 13. The review / release / consume cycle is out of synch I liked their last album, so this should be good Preview night Publish review General release Press screenings Available in iTunes Promo copies Paperback/Kindle editions Private view Public view
  14. 14. The review / release / consume cycle is out of synch I’ve changed my mind now I’ve heard it Preview night Publish review General release Press screenings Available in iTunes Promo copies Paperback/Kindle editions Private view Public view
  15. 15. And arts coverage is “top-down” Critics Works Audiences
  16. 16. We wanted to add new voices... Different critics Works Audiences
  17. 17. ...covering a wider range of works... Different critics More works Audiences
  18. 18. ...for a bigger audience. In a conversation. Different critics More works Bigger audiences
  19. 19. But where do you hang these “conversations”?Photo by mollypop - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mymollypop/2645590591/
  20. 20. Robots are the answer!Photo by jeffedoe - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffedoe/506027963/
  21. 21. We gave the developers a very vague brief
  22. 22. They used MusicBrainz as their base
  23. 23. Which provides a unique ID for every artist ever
  24. 24. Using that ID, they amazed us
  25. 25. We took that principle, and applied it to books
  26. 26. What did we do wrong?
  27. 27. Ignored previous experiencePhoto by simiant - http://www.flickr.com/photos/simiant/29251526/
  28. 28. ISBNs are physical, not digitalPhoto by Rev Dan Catt - http://www.flickr.com/photos/revdancatt/197037144/
  29. 29. Too few developers in too big a teamPeople making stuff
  30. 30. Too few developers in too big a team People telling them what they should makePeople making stuff
  31. 31. Too few developers in too big a team People making similar stuff at Amazon / LibraryThing / Anobii etc etc People telling them what they should makePeople making stuff
  32. 32. Obsessed over design details
  33. 33. Went for a “Big bang” launchThe Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared Light - photo from Hubble (NASA)
  34. 34. What did we do right?
  35. 35. We thought hard about the “lists” model
  36. 36. Used an “Objects / Properties / Actions” map
  37. 37. Gave developers a chance to be creative again
  38. 38. Improved our direct engagement with users
  39. 39. Where are we unsure?
  40. 40. Beware of “panda”
  41. 41. The new pages change the nature of our site... 100% original, quality content
  42. 42. ...to one where original content is in the minority 100% original, 1.37m Guardian articles quality content 3m music artist pages 8m books & author pages
  43. 43. We now have several different searches
  44. 44. Maybe it wasn’t a technology problem anyway?
  45. 45. 1 Know what is important What is the goal you are trying to attain. And is new tech the answer?
  46. 46. 2 ISBNs are evil Just to be clear - ISBNs are fucking evil
  47. 47. 3 Trust good developers Engaged developers can be the most valuable asset on a project.
  48. 48. 4 Listen to all of the team Job titles and age don’t matter if they have the right answer or knowledge.
  49. 49. 5 Get the model right Lists have been easier than “pages” and “fronts” as we had the model right.
  50. 50. 8
  51. 51. Thank you. Questions?

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