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David More's presentation to UX Australia 2009

David More's presentation to UX Australia 2009

25 August 2009; Canberra, Australia

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  • Design rationale, content quality and UX integrity A presentation for UX Australia 2009 Delivered on Thursday 25 August 2009 Hotel Realm, Canberra David More [email_address] @david_more www.optimalexperience.com Text copyright © David More 2009
  • This talk is about content quality: How it contributes to quality of user experience What IA & UX professionals can do to improve it The topic is the contribution that content quality makes to quality of user experience, and what IA and UX professionals can do to improve it. We’ve all known about badly-written corporate sites for years. But now we’re realising that it will take years to change corporate and professional cultures, transform communication paradigms and encourage new skills. In the meantime, what do we do? There are simple, practical steps that IAs and UX professionals can take to create awareness, muster support, and boost an organisation’s ability to produce good-quality content. This can be done as a natural progression from existing design and documentation activities. I want to show how, drawing on examples from my work. To start out, we’ll look over the usual ways in which the flesh is put under the skin and over the bones of a web site or app. We’ll look at examples of organisations that have got it right, and some that haven’t. We’ll focus on where IA meets editorial, and how they dance together when they do. Then we’ll describe two particular techniques we’ve used during website refresh and redesign projects to bring content quality into the scope of the UX effort: IA Showtime – a managed process for involving a large group of stakeholders in a site refresh. Page briefs – a way to use existing design information to help content authors
  • What type of web content: animal, mineral or vegetable? Animal content breeds, plays fetch with you, and if you tickle it purrs. Social media is animal content. Mineral content is enduring and solid. Once you find it, there it is. Databases and resource collections are mineral content. Vegetable content sprouts, grows, & dies off. It’s good when it’s fresh. Most everyday information on the web is vegetable content. It needs gardening...
  • Organisations can put a lot of effort into ‘vegetable’ content. Detail from The château de Villandry, gardens, 26 April 2007. Photo by Peter Dutton from Forest Hills, Queens, USA This image was originally posted to Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik at http://flickr.com/photos/40646519@N00/494407418 . It was reviewed on 13:22, 5 February 2008 (UTC) by the FlickreviewR robot and confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.
  • Too bad that so many organisations providing important information and services do it so badly. We still notice when a few do it well. The situation is especially depressing when we look at ‘corporate’ sites, including government ones, and intranets. Despite the general improvement in web design skills and standards over the last decade and a half, it’s still common for the overall user experience of corporate sites to be unedifying, unsatisfying and often unpleasant because of their content.
  • Content quality – relevance, accuracy, appropriate detail, appeal, freshness, tone, voice, style – is absolutely critical to the user experience of online media, and it also significantly affects the credibility, usability and attractiveness of transactional apps. This doesn’t just apply to “body” content , the text that typically fills “content pages”. Information scent, progressive revelation and the inverse pyramid all depend on following a pathway paved with quality content. In other words, making information architecture succeed depends on what fills it .
  • Does it matter?
  • There’s a cost here, and an opportunity. The AGIMO report Interacting with Government: Australians’ use and satisfaction with e-government services (December 2008) gives these figures… http://www.finance.gov.au/Publications/interacting-with-government/index.html
  • All told, about 20% of respondents said that usability needs to be addressed. About 10% said that content quality and features need to be addressed. There’s a problem here with website usability , yes, but there’s a problem with website content as well. Frankly, the surprise here is that the figures are so low!
  • User experience This gentleman has obviously enjoyed his meal. That smile says everything about the overall quality of his experience – his UX. For a meal, you want it to be: what you ordered, served fairly quickly, a good size helping, not too pricey. It helps if the waiter is offering good service, too. But a restaurant can get all of that right, and still give you a bad experience. The food has to be good too. If it isn’t fresh, tasty, wholesome and well-cooked then all that other stuff won’t help. Meal in diffa April 2006.jpg A festive meal at an outdoor table in Diffa Niger, April 2006. This date would coincide with Nigerien Maloud (The Prophet's Birthday, Malwid). Date 2006:04:19 20:02:55 Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/rolandh/151111509/ Author Roland Huziaker
  • If UX is the takeaway , who’s doing the cooking ? Not whoever who wrote the menu Or whoever designed the decor The website team provides the service Content owners run the kitchen Subject-matter experts prepare the food.
  • Content owners are easily overlooked, yet their support is often critical to making a new site structure work, and to keeping it working long after the IA specialist has left the scene.
  • Content owners are the managers responsible for policy success and effective action. They want results . Under budget . They’re not visionaries, designers, communicators, information strategists, social media evangelists, enterprise architects, or whatever.
  • Arriving at an IA takes a lot of work... activity scenarios business analysis card sorting content review ethnography industry standards personas search logs thesaurus usability priorities What comes out of it is detailed and complex... Content model Controlled vocabulary Topic structure Navigation design SEO keywords
  • After the card sorting, what then? You’ve come a long way since the project began You understand the users and their motivations You have lots of good insights about what will work for them The new IA will give them exactly what they need, where they expect to find it Let’s hope the client can keep it that way .
  • Case study: a website for a large government agency Agency (since reshuffled into oblivion) was deeply siloed into separate divisions Project goals endorsed by senior management Little practical buy-in lower down, where things really happen (or not) Silo managers were used to having the last word, rather than leading from the front Our problem: to drill down to the decision makers
  • An IA Showtime is an event at which content owners are introduced to and consulted about a new or revised site structure. (We’ve used them for public website projects, but they can be used for intranets just as well). An IA Showtime provides a managed process for involving a large group of stakeholders in a site refresh. Content owners are easily overlooked, yet their support is often critical to making a new site structure work and to keeping it working long after the IA specialist has left the scene. We print out site maps and other explanatory diagrams in large format, such as A1-size posters, so that it’s possible for groups of people to view and discuss them. They can also write on the posters and add sticky notes, so that the display becomes a Delphi-like exercise in consensus refinement. Then, we put aside a whole day to exhibit the site map and invite content owners to view and comment. We start by inviting everyone to a kick-off briefing. Some people come. When they go back to their offices, they tell others and a word-of-mouth effect quickly begins spreading the word to the content owners who, until then, had been too busy to get involved. It’s this buzz and immediacy that make the event work. When content owners come (often in groups) we brief them on our approach, then give them the activity scenarios we’ve used to drive the IA and ask them to walk through the tasks. What we don’t do is just show them “their” content and ask them what they think. Instead, we’re putting the content they’re interested in in a purposeful context. This allows us to then open a discussion with the content owners about the impact of the IA on their area and its business or communication needs.
  • An IA Showtime is an event at which content owners are introduced to and consulted about a new or revised site structure. (We’ve used them for public website projects, but they can be used for intranets just as well). An IA Showtime provides a managed process for involving a large group of stakeholders in a site refresh. Content owners are easily overlooked, yet their support is often critical to making a new site structure work and to keeping it working long after the IA specialist has left the scene. We print out site maps and other explanatory diagrams in large format, such as A1-size posters, so that it’s possible for groups of people to view and discuss them. They can also write on the posters and add sticky notes, so that the display becomes a Delphi-like exercise in consensus refinement. Then, we put aside a whole day to exhibit the site map and invite content owners to view and comment. We start by inviting everyone to a kick-off briefing. Some people come. When they go back to their offices, they tell others and a word-of-mouth effect quickly begins spreading the word to the content owners who, until then, had been too busy to get involved. It’s this buzz and immediacy that make the event work. When content owners come (often in groups) we brief them on our approach, then give them the activity scenarios we’ve used to drive the IA and ask them to walk through the tasks. What we don’t do is just show them “their” content and ask them what they think. Instead, we’re putting the content they’re interested in in a purposeful context. This allows us to then open a discussion with the content owners about the impact of the IA on their area and its business or communication needs.
  • IA on display We print out site maps, wireframes and other diagrams in large format (eg. A1 posters) and put them on the walls Groups of people can see and discuss them together They can write on the posters and add sticky notes We print out site maps and other explanatory diagrams in large format, such as A1-size posters, so that it’s possible for groups of people to view and discuss them. They can also write on the posters and add sticky notes, so that the display becomes a Delphi-like exercise in consensus refinement. Then, we put aside a whole day to exhibit the site map and invite content owners to view and comment. This is the set-up at one event (for a later, better-managed project)
  • Setting up the display The display is set up to be used like a huge paper prototype We want it to work for a crowd of people We want those people to ‘navigate’ through the site map and wireframes So, we need several versions of the site map, at different levels of detail
  • As people arrive, they follow a path that matches the flow of site visitors through the site structure. They can work their way down through the successive levels of the site maps, and end up looking at the complete page listing onscreen.
  • The ‘posters’ were simple site maps, like this
  • Unformatted Excel spreadsheet mapping the site
  • Formatted spreadsheet. The yellow tint was chosen as it produced the best grey shade when the pages were printed in monochrome. We used a VBA macro to apply the formatting , so we could cope with last-minute revisions.
  • Setting up the people We invite content owners to a morning kick-off briefing. We ask a key project sponsor to launch it. Typically, a lot of people don’t RSVP. But we do get a few to come. They see what we’re doing, and go back to their offices. Then the psychology starts working…
  • No-one wants to be left out Back in their offices, the first visitors tell the others. Word of mouth spreads. There’s a buzz. People too busy to RSVP find a few minutes to come and look. It’s convenient. It’s immediate. It’s viral. Got ‘em! When they go back to their offices, they tell others and a word-of-mouth effect quickly begins spreading the word to the content owners who, until then, had been too busy to get involved. It’s this buzz and immediacy that makes the event work. Osaka07 D2A Bershawn Jackson failing.jpg World Athletics Championships 2007 in Osaka - 400 metres hurdles. Favourite Bershawn Jackson struggling at the last hurdle, which leads to his competitors overtaking him and him dropping out in the semifinal 26 August 2007(2007-08-26) Author Eckhard Pecher
  • When content owners come… We give them the activity scenarios that drive the IA Ask them to walk through the tasks Comment on the grouping, ordering & terminology Tell us what’s missing or wrong Decide what must be written, updated or archived Discuss their goals & online strategy What we don’t do… Is just show them “their” content and ask them what they think. Instead, we put the content they’re interested in into a purposeful context. This opens a discussion with the content owners about their goals and the impact of the new site
  • The discussions are often very intense. Light and sound performance in the lake, Royal Flora Expo 2006, Chiangmai, Thailand Nov 2, 2006 Photo by A.Aruninta
  • One example…
  • Do… Get high-level buy-in to the process Listen to the content owners Get people writing comments Pass on user feedback Keep track of who says what Make appointments (you’ll be busy) Get local help to help you deal with the people
  • No… Telling people what they ought to do Explaining or defending the IA Pushing your process Changing the IA on the spot Becoming the ‘ secretary ’ Forgetting the users Getting tired & hungry
  • So (if all goes well)… you have practical buy-in early enough to make success possible in time to head off problems you’ve improved the quality of the IA, too you’ve made a lot of potentially useful contacts (& you’ve had a party.) If it doesn’t go well… now you know you might be able to fix the problems you might be able to do better next time.
  • Someone has to write this stuff The Web can only create universal & transparent access to knowledge if that knowledge is available Someone has to make it Someone has to pay, too. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Minnakht_01.JPG Stele of Minnakht, chief of the scribes. during the reign of Ay ( c . 1321 BC) Louvre accession number C 55 Location Sully ; 1er étage ; Antiquités égyptiennes ; Salle 26 Source/Photographer Clio20
  • You need someone: who knows who has time to write who knows what to write, for whom who can write well for the Web Yeah, right
  • These somebodies may not be the same person Best practice suggests you need an editorial team with specialised skills. Budget reality suggests otherwise. Someone has to do the best they can. Circus Bicycles 1.JPG 中文 : 杂技自行车 Date 200802(200802) Source Own work by uploader Author Shizhao Ollienight.jpg Date August 01, 2007 at 00:00 Author MattLaws from Nashville, Tennessee
  • Subject-Matter Experts are often caught in a professional stereotype, and unable to appreciate the context in which their expertise may be relevant to others. Finnish Chefs Association: Chefs Without Borders congress, Narva, Estonia 19.-22.8.2004 21 August 2004 Photo by J. Tiainen
  • So, what are our options? Plan A – find a competent all-rounder Plan B – build a well-rounded team Plan C – improve what the SME can do we can increase the SME’s ability we can reduce the skill & effort required
  • So, what are our options? Plan A – find a competent all-rounder Plan B – build a well-rounded team Plan C – improve what the SME can do Increase the SME’s capacity & confidence provide better knowledge & instructions give encouragement & support Reduce the skill & effort required simplify the tasks involved provide useful tools & processes Eventually, skills will improve with experience
  • Case study: website for a major financial institution Over 50 specialists with tight focus on their own areas Content is extremely technical No budget for professional writers or editors Our problem: to get useful content from non-professional authors
  • A Page Brief is a way of delivering practical content specifications to subject-matter experts so that, even if they’re not natural communicators, they can produce useful content. A Page Brief uses information from the design stage to structure an SME’s contribution and build a productive relationship with the website team.
  • Specifications The business requirements and the design decisions that we already have can tell us a lot about the content specifications for a page. We have information about its target users , topic structure and page type. Joy Gas service station elevation drawings, 910 Lake Shore Road Blvd W., Toronto, Canada. 17 November 1936.
  • What do we know about a content page from the IA? What it’s about Who it’s for What those people will use it for What we want them to do What they probably know already How much detail to include What other content it can link to What layout the page will have What specific actions we want to enable.
  • Instructions IA specifies what What about the how? "Mambo": dance steps inlaid into the sidewalk of Broadway, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington. 6 March 2007 Photo by Joe Mabel . GFDL granted by photographer
  • What do we know about how the page should be written? How to write for the web Marketing & communications strategies Branding guidelines Editorial style guide Experience from all the feedback and research so far
  • What’s in a page brief? What we want the SME to do Their role Their tasks A deadline
  • What’s in a page brief? What we want the SME to do Their role Their tasks A deadline Specifications for each page Key questions & with examples Practical, not theoretical
  • What’s in a page brief? What we want the SME to do Their role Their tasks A deadline Specifications for each page Key questions & with examples Practical, not theoretical Guidelines on writing With checklists and usage Emphasising verbal expression (not literary)
  • What’s in a page brief? What we want the SME to do Their role Their tasks A deadline Specifications for each page Key questions & with examples Practical, not theoretical Guidelines on writing With checklists and usage Emphasising verbal expression (not literary) Support arrangements Buddies and mentoring Put confidence before ‘quality’
  • Do… Smooth the path Address with respect Inspire confidence Focus on the opportunity for the SME Stay practical Stay matter-of-fact
  • No… Talking down Standards, criteria or judgements Pushing your values Abstract stuff ‘ Nice -to-have-s’ Begging for favours
  • So… We create structures and relationships for... Ongoing collaboration Constructive criticism Continuous improvement Realistic planning
  • To recap: Content quality is vital to quality of user experience Engaging content owners is possible, practical, and really pays off Including subject experts in the web team is a logical step that promotes ongoing collaboration and improvement Horniman Museum Totem Pole - 07/05/2005 This Tlingit Indian Totem Pole was carved by Nathan Jackson of Alaska for the American Festival of 1985 and erected by the Greater London Council.
  • Questions?
  • Design rationale, content quality and UX integrity David More [email_address] @david_more www.optimalexperience.com With thanks to: Alinta Thorton Elisa Bond Chris Rann Stephen Cox Text copyright © David More 2009

Uxau09 More Content Quality B Uxau09 More Content Quality B Presentation Transcript

  • Design rationale, content quality and UX integrity David More
  • This talk is about content quality How it contributes to quality of user experience What IA & UX professionals can do to improve it
  •  
  • Joe Shlabotnik
  •  
  • Relevance Accuracy Clarity Consistency Freshness Appropriate detail Familiar terminology The right voice Findability Navigation Accessibility Learnability Usability Credibility Engagement Loyalty
  •  
  • What would encourage increased internet use? Interacting with Government: Australians’ use and satisfaction with e-government services (AGIMO, December 2008), Figure 68 Preferred channel of contact with government Internet Telephone In-person Mail Proportion of people who prefer this channel % % % % 44 34 16 2 Areas to be addressed for each group Usability 28 18 16 19 Better content and features 12 9 7 11
  • Usability Better content and features Areas to be addressed 19.78% 9.68% Total
  • Roland Huziaker
  • If UX is the takeaway , who’s doing the cooking ?
    • Not whoever who wrote the menu
    • Or designed the decor
    • The website team provides the service
    • Content owners run the kitchen
    • Subject-matter experts prepare the food.
  • Content owners are easily overlooked, yet their support is often critical to making a new site structure work, and to keeping it working long after the IA specialist has left the scene.
  • Content owners are the managers responsible for policy success and effective action. They want results . Under budget . They’re not visionaries, designers, communicators, information strategists, social media evangelists, enterprise architects, or whatever.
  • activity scenarios business analysis card sorting content review ethnography industry standards personas search logs thesaurus usability priorities Content model Controlled vocabulary Topic structure Navigation design SEO keywords
  •  
  • Case study: website for a large government agency Project goals were endorsed at top level Little practical engagement lower down Agency was a cluster of separate divisions Silo managers were used to having the last word Our problem: to drill down to the decision makers
  • Our problem: to drill down to the decision makers We needed an appropriate strategy for stakeholder engagement
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • When content owners come… We give them the activity scenarios that drive the IA Ask them to walk through the tasks in the scenarios Comment on the grouping, ordering & terminology Tell us what’s missing or wrong or about to change Decide what must be written, updated or archived Discuss their business goals & online strategy
  • Discussions are often intense. A.Aruninta
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Do…
    • Get high-level buy-in to the process
    • Listen to the content owners
    • Get people writing comments
    • Pass on user feedback
    • Keep track of who says what
    • Make appointments (you’ll be busy)
    • Get local help
  • No…
    • Telling people what they ought to do
    • Explaining or defending the IA
    • Pushing your process
    • Changing the IA on the spot
    • Becoming the ‘ secretary ’
    • Forgetting the users
    • Getting tired & hungry
  • So…
    • You have practical buy-in …
    • ... early enough to make success possible
    • in time to head off problems
    • You’ve improved the quality of the IA , too
    • You’ve made useful contacts .
  • Someone has to write this stuff Joe Shlabotnik
  • Plan A : find an all-rounder who:
    • Knows their stuff
    • Has time to write
    • Knows what to write, for whom
    • Can write for the Web
  • Plan B : build a team
  • Plan C : work with available subject-matter experts
    • Plan A : find a competent all-rounder
    • Plan B : build a well-rounded team
    increase capability & confidence reduce the skill & effort required Plan C : make the best of what we’ve got
  • Recipe for web authors Reduce the skill & effort required Increase capability & confidence
      • Provide better knowledge & instructions
      • Give encouragement & support
      • Skills will improve with experience
      • Simplify the tasks involved
      • Provide useful tools & processes
  • Case study: website for a major financial institution Content is extremely technical Over 50 specialists with tight focus on their own areas Our problem: to get useful content from non-professional authors No budget for professional writers or editors
  • Page Brief
    • Uses information from the design stage to
    • deliver practical content specifications to subject-matter experts so
    • they can produce useful web content
    • (even if they’re not natural communicators) .
  • Specifications
  • What do we know about a page before it’s written?
    • What it’s about
    • Who it’s for
    • What those people will use it for
    • What we want them to do
    • What they probably know already
    • How much detail to include
    • What other content it can link to
    • What layout the page will have
    • What actions we want to enable
  • Instructions
  • What do we know about how to write it?
    • How to write for the web
    • Marketing & communications strategies
    • Branding guidelines
    • Editorial style guide
    • Experience from feedback & research so far
  • What’s in a Page Brief?
    • What we want the SME to do
      • Their role
      • Their tasks
      • A deadline
  • What’s in a Page Brief?
    • What we want the SME to do
      • Their role
      • Their tasks
      • A deadline
    • Specifications for each page
      • Key questions & with examples
      • Practical, not theoretical
  • What’s in a Page Brief?
    • What we want the SME to do
      • Their role
      • Their tasks
      • A deadline
    • Specifications for each page
      • Key questions & with examples
      • Practical, not theoretical
    • Guidelines on writing
      • With checklists and usage
      • Emphasising verbal expression
  • What’s in a Page Brief?
    • What we want the SME to do
      • Their role
      • Their tasks
      • A deadline
    • Specifications for each page
      • Key questions & with examples
      • Practical, not theoretical
    • Guidelines on writing
      • With checklists and usage
      • Emphasising verbal expression
    • Support arrangements
      • Buddies and mentoring
      • Put confidence before ‘quality’
  • Do…
    • Smooth the path
    • Address with respect
    • Inspire confidence
    • Focus on the opportunity for the SME
    • Stay practical
    • Stay matter-of-fact
  • No…
    • Talking down
    • Standards, criteria or judgements
    • Pushing your values
    • Abstract stuff
    • ‘ Nice -to-have-s’
    • Begging for favours
  • So…
    • We create structures and relationships for...
    • Ongoing collaboration
    • Constructive criticism
    • Continuous improvement
    • Realistic planning
  •  
  • Content quality is vital to quality of user experience Engaging content owners is possible, practical, and really pays off Including subject experts in the web team is a logical step that promotes ongoing collaboration and improvement
  •  
  • Design rationale, content quality and UX integrity David More @david_more www.optimalexperience.com With thanks to Alinta Thorton Elisa Bond Chris Rann Stephen Cox