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Information Architecture for Products


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What terms and concepts do you use to deliver your product experience? What organizational structures do you use to present those terms and concepts? To what degree is the meaning you intend through those choices clear to the person for which you intended it? These are the questions to ask yourself when attempting to make a product make sense to others.

Information Architecture is the practice of making sense of meaning through the consideration of ontology, taxonomy and choreography. In this three hour workshop we will discuss and work through what it means to think about affecting the information architecture of a product.

Published in: Design, Education
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Information Architecture for Products

  1. 1. Information Architecture for Products Presented by: Abby Covert | @Abby_the_IA
  2. 2. 3
  3. 3. 4 “Perhaps the most important change from the previous menu, though, was a grouping system that categorized food items into neat culinary taxonomies: pancakes on this page, omelettes on this one, etc.”
  4. 4. Understanding Information as a material is complex
  5. 5. 11 Information can come in the form of lack of information or materiality
  6. 6. 12 There is no true information, only spin.
  7. 7. Defining Good is Complex 13
  8. 8. We spend much of our lives trying to Architect Information that Makes sense
  9. 9. Typical Problems • Too much information: Overwhelming use of messages and notifications • Not the right information: Confusions of meaning, intent and/ or action • No information at all: Limited signals for people to understand what is happening, has happened or is about to happen next 15
  10. 10. 16
  11. 11. Objects Allow us to have deeper conversations
  12. 12. Tools of IA • Ontological Clarifiers • Taxonomic Structures • Diagrammatic Techniques • User Research • Market Research • Organizational Research • Heuristic Evaluations 19 Today’s Focus
  13. 13. Information Architecture is important to understand when working on products 20
  14. 14. 21 Users expect Installed Applications to connect to the internet, and provide easy connections to commerce....
  15. 15. 22 While also syncing with one or more other devices...
  16. 16. 23 One of which has to fit in their pocket...
  17. 17. 24 Our bosses make it clear, we have to also tell users about new things...
  18. 18. 25 That compete with other things they already use...
  19. 19. 26 Users expect products to get to know their likes and dislikes...
  20. 20. 27 And still give the opportunity to change what it “knows”...
  21. 21. 28 Connection to and collection of information is not just “in” our pockets and on our desks anymore...
  22. 22. 29From Quinn Norton’s “Everything is Broken”
  23. 23. making Products is complex • People face more choices and avenues • Product teams are under more pressure to be not only easy and clear but also unique and delightful • Technology is constantly changing as are user expectations for patterns and functionality • We are all personally experiencing information overload 30
  24. 24. Complexity can get in the way of true understanding 31 Rabbit Hole of Complexity
  25. 25. Some Enemies that lurk in Complexity • Familiarity: Being too close to the problem can make you forget to remember what it is like to NOT understand • Looking good vs. being good: Tricking yourself into thinking something is good because it is good looking • “Uh, Huh”: Not admitting ignorance when faced with it • Unnecessary Exactitude: Including more detail than is helpful • Rainbow Worship: Believing that more color or colorful flowery language is always better • Edifitis: Belief that a better, shinier “such and such” could and will fix the problem • Not asking Why: Simple as that. Always ask why. • How before What: Thinking to specifically about solutions before the problem is defined 32List adapted from Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Anxiety 2
  26. 26. Information architecture is about making Sense of complexity 33
  27. 27. 34 “To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe” - Carl Sagan
  28. 28. 35 Users Stakeholders Strategic Goals Information Architecture Design Makers Markting & Their Bosses • Comfort with context • Access/Interest/Trust • Reading & Grade level • Aesthetics & Taste • Tone • Brand • Pixels • Style Sheets • Production Budget • direction • Flow • Clarity • Models • Structure • Tasks • Truth • Goals • Research • Competition • REturn on Investment • Growth towards goals • Reputation • The bottom Line • Budget • Reach • Competition • Distraction • Loyalty • Channel Limits • Scope • Talent • Platforms • Integration • Scalability • Quality Assurance • maintainability Complexity in a simple App design project
  29. 29. 2004 Now IA work is getting more complex
  30. 30. Ontology: Do you know what you mean when you say what you say? Taxonomy: Have you provided logical structures that bring meaning to what you present? Choreography: How is meaning affected across various channels, over time and through usage? Ontology Taxonomy Choreography Critical Components Of IA* *HT  @DanKlyn
  31. 31. Ontology 38 This is a fish.
  32. 32. Ontology = Meaning 39 Do we know what we mean when we say what we say? - @DanKlyn
  33. 33. Meaning is subjective Meaning is demographic Meaning is socio political Meaning gets lost in translation Meaning is complex 40
  34. 34. Lexicography vs Ontology • Lexicography is the practice of compiling dictionaries. Lexicographers collect different meanings for words • Ontology represents the knowledge of terms and concepts within a domain 41
  35. 35. Taxonomy = Structure 43
  36. 36. There are only 5 ways to organize anything 44 1. Location: Rome is a city in Italy 2. Alphabetical: Rome starts with “R” 3. Time: Rome started in 753 BC 4. Category: Rome is a Romantic city 5. Hierarchy: Rome is within Italy, which is within Europe, which is within the Eastern and Northern Hemisphere *HT  Richard  Saul  Wurman  -­‐  Informa:on  Anxiety  2
  37. 37. 45
  38. 38. Organizing information is not the hard part 46 building true consensus on the meaning and intent of information is the hard(er) part
  39. 39. Taxonomy is Rhetoric 47 The way you choose to organize your vegetables says something about what kind of store you are
  40. 40. 48 “It takes knowledge to know that a tomato is a fruit, and wisdom not to put it in a fruit salad.” – Miles Kington
  41. 41. Mental Models Matter A mental model is an explanation for the way someone makes sense of something. These models of perception shape our behavior and how we relate to information that we encounter. 49
  42. 42. What facets do you have? • A facet is a particular aspect or feature of something. The number of facets something has the more ways it can be organized against other things. 50
  43. 43. 51 20 ways to organize a box of vegetables 1.! By cost at the grocery in the USA (Location) 2.! By cost at the grocery in the UK (Location) 3.! By countries it is eaten in (Location) 4.! By first letter scientific names (Alphabetical) 5.! By first letter popular names (Alphabetical) 6.! By first letter cultural names (Alphabetical) 7.! By seasonality of harvest (Time) 8.! By length of season (Time) 9.! By cooking time (Time) 10.! By popularity today (Time) 11.! By popularity 100 years ago (Time) 12.! By color (Category) 13.! By taste (Category) 14.! By texture (Category) 15.! By size (Category) 16.! By growing style (Hierarchy) 17.! By climate (Hierarchy) 18.! By type (Hierarchy) 19.! By soil type (Hierarchy) 20.! By best storing technique (Hierarchy)
  44. 44. Ambiguous vs. Exact Classifications 52
  45. 45. 53
  46. 46. 54
  47. 47. 55 “Watch Instantly” provides less ambiguous categories up front Introducing more ambiguity as the user narrows focus into a broad category
  48. 48. The more Ambiguity introduced, the less effective the taxonomy 56 Level of Ambiguity in Classification ClarityofTaxonomy
  49. 49. 57 homogenous information or heterogenous information
  50. 50. 58
  51. 51. 59 Four patterns of information form
  52. 52. Hierarchy 60
  53. 53. 61 Type of Hierarchy
  54. 54. Database 62
  55. 55. Flow 63
  56. 56. Hypertext 64
  57. 57. 65 One is no less complex than the other.
  58. 58. Most projects require a unique mix of these four building blocks 66
  59. 59. Choreography = Intent • Context: the circumstances that form the setting for an interaction • Channel: A medium for communication or the passage of information 67
  60. 60. 68 How you choreograph Your product says something about who you are
  61. 61. 69 Home HomeHomeHomePosts Explore Create Post Direction (Default/ Front Facing) Grid (On/Off) Flash (No, Auto, On) Choose from Library Home Home HomePhotos on Phone Video (On/Off) Take Photo HomeHomeHomeUser Profile Activity (Following/ News) Comment Direct Like Delete Likers Copy Share URL Email Photo Tag People Post to Followers Share Copy Share URL Email Photo Tag People Your Profile Edit Profile Photos of User Followers Following Post (Direct) Edit Tilt Frame Filter Blur (Off, Circle, Line) Brightness (Default, On) Caption Tag People Add to Photo Map (On/Off) Name this Location Foursquare Results Facebook (On/Off) Twitter (On/Off) Tumblr (On/Off) Email (On/Off) Add Email Address from Contacts Add Email Address Manually IPhone Contacts Add Email Twitter Login Tumblr Login Facebook Login HomeHomeHomeYour Posts Comments Comment Caption Send To Next Post Comments Report Inappropriate Tweet Copy Share URL Comment Like Choreographing simplicity can be really complex
  62. 62. Lesson 1: When unraveling complexity, Start with language not interfaces 70
  63. 63. 71 “If we’re thinking of lunchbox, we’d be really careful about not having the word ‘box’ already give you bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. You think of a box being a square, and like a cube. And so we’re quite careful with the words we use, because those can determine the path that you go down.” - Jony Ive, Apple Words are the material of our intent
  64. 64. Remember Language is not just words 72
  65. 65. 73 I am sorry you have having issues using our mobile site. I am sure I will be able to help you...Can you see the hamburger menu? Careful: We LOVE to use words anyways even if we have to make them up
  66. 66. 74 Collecting the Materials • What “information” is important to your target user? • In what medium and context is “information” found today? • What “information” is important to your own objectives? • What “nouns” are you providing to users? • What “verbs” are users anticipating as relates to those “nouns”? • Decide the words, images, icons and gestures will you use to provide those things to users
  67. 67. 75
  68. 68. Controlled Vocabularies • A controlled vocabulary is a list of approved terms and definitions for a particular context and/or setting • This exercise can help teams to decide on things like: – Variant Spellings (i.e. American vs. British) – Scientific vs. Popular Term Use (i.e. Cockroaches vs. Periplaneta Americana) – Acceptable Synonyms (i.e. Automobile vs. Car) – Acceptable Acronyms (i.e. GE vs. General Electric) – Business vs. User Terms (i.e. What we say in meetings vs. what we say to customers) – Identification of homographs (i.e. the word “pool” can relate to “swimming pool” or “shooting”) 76
  69. 69. 77 h,p://6thfloor.blogs.ny;­‐we-­‐dont-­‐say/
  70. 70. 78 Alien Dictionary
  71. 71. 79 Slice of Pizza Piece of Pizza fetta di Pizza tranche de Pizza Piede di Pizza Pied de Pizza Pizza Pie Pizza Synonym Rings
  72. 72. Lesson 2: Diagram the damn thing 80
  73. 73. 81 Diagrams
  74. 74. diagrams and maps Can be “invented” for a certain context ... but here are a bunch that I keep going back to 82
  75. 75. 83
  76. 76. Quadrants 84 Urgent Not Urgent NotImportant Important 1 2 3 NA
  77. 77. Gantt 86 Starving Commute Home Call For Pizza ORder Pizza Delivery Info Payment Info Wait 7:00 PM 7:05 PM 7:10 PM 7:15 PM 7:20 PM 7:25 PM 7:30 PM Full Hungry Eat Pizza At Home
  78. 78. Flow Diagram 89 Call Pizza place Watch Movie Order Pizza Delivery & Payment Hungry? Yes! No! Arrive Home After Work Wait Eat Doorbell? Pizza Guy? Yes! No :( Yes! No!
  79. 79. Venn Diagram 90 Movie Pizza Friday Night at Home
  80. 80. Tree 91 Pizza Chicago Style PlainToppings NYC Style Plain Toppings VeggieMeat VeggieMeat
  81. 81. Swim lane 92 Customer Service Cook DriverPizza Eater Hungry Call Pizza place Answer Take Order Give Order Enter into POS Make Pizza Bake Pizza Box Pizza Take Pizza Drive to house Ring door Bell Answer Door Pay for Pizza Eat Pizza Read Order
  82. 82. Block 93 Pizza Crust Toppings Service Thin "NYC" Thick "Chicago" To Go To StayDelivery
  83. 83. schematic 94 Pie Crust Tomato Sauce & cheese Toppings Slice
  84. 84. EXPLODED schematic 95 Pizza Crust cheese Toppings Tomato Sauce
  85. 85. 96
  86. 86. Journey Map 97 Get out of Work Drive Walk to Door Order Pizza Get Pizza Eat Pizza Outside Car Home Unlock Door Park In Drive Hear Doorbell Get Home
  87. 87. Hierarchical Map 98 Cooks CooksAst Mngr Abby's Pizza Customer Service Kitchen Operations Chef Cooks Cooks Cook Sales manager Cooks Cooks Driver Manager
  88. 88. Association Map 99 Abby's Pizza Store Website Print Ads Coupon Menu Flyer Signs Delivery Take Out Dine In Radio Paper Board Menu About Order
  89. 89. 100 PLAN THE BUSINESS ASSORT THE PLAN SELL-IN THE PLAN EXECUTE THE ASSORTMENT BRING ASSTMTTO LIFE Scorecar ds (Annual, Seasonal, Monthly) Top Account Plan Market Share Data Point of Sale Competitor Account Financials Account Trends Wholesale Sales Key City Consumer Trends Analyze the Business Develop Marketplace Insights Develop Accountvv Insights BUSINESS PLANNING Tailor Seasonal Offering Create Account Assortment Plans VisualFinancial Retail Space Buy SIM Strategies GTM KAPM Season Fundamentals (Nike U) CSI/ Showroom Account Assortment PlansCraft Sell-in Package Create Seasonal Experience Learn to Sell & Service SELL-IN PREPARATION Samples Commercial content Catalog Shop Invoices Claims Order Tracking Manage the buy RETAILER BUYING SKU Online Training EKIN In-store Training PP Guidelines & Directives Self-serve Digital In-store associate Present Products Train Retail Associates Educate Consumers (SKU) PRODUCT EDUCATION& PRESENTTAION Sales Programs Account DC Nike DC 3rd Party Logistics Consolidators CarriersStore Account Driven Changes Entry Errors Nike Driven Changes Demand/ Supply match Launch Manage Delivery Manage Load-in ORDER MANAGEMENT Analyze the Assortment Directed Assortments Account Seasonal Recaps Category Hindsighting & Foresighting Quick- strike Always Available/ Replenishment Review the Business Physical Assets Gross to Net Profitabilty Modeling Sales Targeting Seasonal Recap In Season Sell-thru Suggested ReplacementsAllocated Products Edited Offering Call-offs UPCs Order Analysis At-once availability Allocated Product Manage Fill-in Campaigns Digital Assets ( Futures Order ASSORTMENT PLANNING Build & Manage the Plan At-Once Order Product Modules Stock & Sales & Open to Buy Manage Gaps & Opportun- ities Asstmt sell-in Financial Plans Sales Programs Account Credit Product Allocations Business Plans Rep Content
  90. 90. Diagrammatic Relationships 101 Hierarchy Flow If This That Child B Child A Loop Parent Logic Child Parent Child Grand Child Parent Child 2 Child1 Parent Resulting Children Database Best  For:   Naviga:on Best  For:   Guidance Best  For:   Explora:on Best  For:   Transac:on
  91. 91. Lesson 3: Information architecture is not just for Information Architects 102
  92. 92. Because Information architecture Always exists 103
  93. 93. Take Aways • Don’t start on the interface: IA is not just about interfaces, it is about understanding • Diagram the damn thing: Making objects of discourse aid us in collaboration, and with the building of consensus • IA is not just for IAs: Think through the appropriate ontology, taxonomy and choreography while working on any design project 120
  94. 94. Thanks @ Abby_The_IA