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A presentation I gave way back in 2001...

Published in: Business, Education


  1. 1. 27/05/09 RuleSpace: Information architecture in a grand context Matt Jones : 12 November 2001
  2. 2. This presentation <ul><li>An attempt to connect different scales of phenomena </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In order to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>explore the practice of ‘information architecture’ in context. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify some new opportunities for interesting ways to think and work…? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. A lot to get through, quickly…
  4. 4. But, please ask awkward questions
  5. 5. Who am I <ul><li>Information architect, BBC New Media </li></ul><ul><li>More widely – a user-experience designer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Previously, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative director </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sapient </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BBC News Online. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. The practice of ‘information architecture’ a lightning tour…!
  7. 7. A new and nascent discipline…
  8. 8. So, there are a lot of definitions… &quot;Information Architecture (IA) is the process of organizing and presenting data to the user in a meaningful, clear and intuitive manner. IA is the foundation of all great websites. All other design aspects - form, function, metaphor, navigation, interface, interaction, visual, and information systems - build upon the groundwork of information architecture. Initiating the IA process is the first thing you should do when designing a website.&quot; “ Creating consistent and functional systems for navigation, graphics, page layout and title languages so that the user knows where to go, what to do, and encourages them to return” &quot;Information architecture involves the design of organization and navigation systems to help people find and manage information more successfully.&quot;
  9. 9. Richard Saul Wurman coined the term “ The individual who organizes the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear ; a person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge ; the emerging 21st century professional occupation addressing the needs of the age focused upon clarity, human understanding and the science of the organization of information”
  10. 10. The practice of information architecture <ul><li>Has become prevalent as web/digital projects grew bigger and more mission-critical to business </li></ul><ul><li>Involvement or identification of IA as a part of major project has risen over last 3-4 years </li></ul><ul><li>Most companies involved in the strategy, design and build of digital project have strong IA disciplines (not just ‘pure-plays’, but big5/big-blue) </li></ul>
  11. 11. IA = design + technology + business Business strategy Editorial & design Technical <ul><li>Information </li></ul><ul><li>Architect: a person. </li></ul><ul><li>Mediator </li></ul><ul><li>User-advocate </li></ul><ul><li>Helps form and hold project vision </li></ul><ul><li>Translator </li></ul><ul><li>Information </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture: a thing. </li></ul><ul><li>Touchstone </li></ul><ul><li>Blueprint </li></ul><ul><li>Connector </li></ul><ul><li>Model </li></ul><ul><li>Tool </li></ul><ul><li>Guide </li></ul>
  12. 12. Clarke’s 3 rd Law “ Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
  13. 13. Information architecture + process <ul><li>Information Architecture is not magic . </li></ul><ul><li>Not an isolated activity </li></ul><ul><li>To practice successfully, one must adopt a multidisciplinary, and methodological approach to projects. </li></ul>“ Process is more important than outcome. When outcome drives the process we will only ever go where we've already been. If process drives the outcome we may not know where we're going, but we will know we want to be there…” - Bruce Mau “ process is the key to producing something unique, without it, we only build what is predetermined, and that usually sucks” - Anon
  14. 14. Information architecture: part of a process Diagram by Jesse James Garrett
  15. 15. The sorts of things I make
  16. 16. User flows
  17. 17. Low-fidelity prototype example:
  18. 18. 27/05/09 But mostly, I make Connections
  19. 19. Powers of Ten
  20. 20. Powers of Ten <ul><li>Seminal film : 1968 </li></ul><ul><li>Charles & Ray Eames </li></ul><ul><li>Wednesday was the 2 nd international ‘powers of ten’ day… </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  21. 21. 27/05/09 Powers of 10 Images © Eames Office. The following images are used without explicit permission, but with respect. Don’t be cheap – go buy the book, the DVD, the video, the poster (or all of them like I have over the years)
  22. 22. 10 25
  23. 23. 10 22
  24. 24. 10 21
  25. 25. 10 15
  26. 26. 10 12
  27. 27. 10 9
  28. 28. 10 8
  29. 29. 10 7
  30. 30. 10 6
  31. 31. 10 5
  32. 32. 10 4
  33. 33. 10 3
  34. 34. 10 2
  35. 35. 10 1
  36. 36. 10 0
  37. 37. 10 -1
  38. 38. 10 -3
  39. 39. 10 -5
  40. 40. 10 -7
  41. 41. 10 -9
  42. 42. 10 -10
  43. 43. 10 -13
  44. 44. 10 -14
  45. 45. Internet powers of ten?
  46. 46. Perspective… <ul><li>There is wide array of skills needed in the construction of digital experiences, particularly networked ones. </li></ul><ul><li>Information architecture has been bandied about for all sorts of things as a term (just like now...), but it might be more helpful to define some more context to it with some parallels from the real world... </li></ul><ul><li>I.E.: We all (mostly) have to obey the laws of physics, which engineers harness to realise the plans of architects who construct buildings as interventions into an established landscape or urban context, which city planners think about strategically. </li></ul><ul><li>To construct something to be experienced in the real-world one must have in mind at all times, a hierarchy of interconnected perspectives at different scales. </li></ul><ul><li>Same goes for the digital world… </li></ul>
  47. 47. A scale, a journey…
  48. 48. Information physics
  49. 49. Information physics <ul><li>Information Physics: </li></ul><ul><li>The atomic structure of the information your site deals in </li></ul><ul><li>Database Object models, XML schemas </li></ul><ul><li>The physical ‘laws’ it follows: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(internet protocols, mark-up protocols) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We are Gods - we make the physics – but, remember it’s a pantheistic universe… </li></ul>
  50. 50. Information engineering
  51. 51. Information engineering <ul><li>Information Engineering: </li></ul><ul><li>the structuring of the information systems that support the user-experience </li></ul><ul><li>Applications </li></ul><ul><li>Integration </li></ul><ul><li>Systems Architecture </li></ul>
  52. 52. Information architecture
  53. 53. Information architecture <ul><li>Information Architecture: The Human Scale </li></ul><ul><li>the structure of the user's direct experience of your site </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction Design </li></ul><ul><li>Visual Design </li></ul><ul><li>Information Design </li></ul>
  54. 54. Information urbanism
  55. 55. Information urbanism <ul><li>Information Urbanism: The neighbourhood </li></ul><ul><li>'urban-scale' structure of the relationships of your site with the network at large - don’t be a beautiful website, be a beautiful part of the web… </li></ul><ul><li>Cross linking - can you be linked to? </li></ul><ul><li>Affiliations </li></ul><ul><li>Search-engine optimisation </li></ul>
  56. 56. Information ecosystem
  57. 57. Information ecosystems <ul><li>Information Ecosystem: Societal scale </li></ul><ul><li>Web trends and business shifts and how they influence your site– the global affecting the local, and vice versa </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Network effects’ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Attention economy” </li></ul>
  58. 58. Information cosmos Information Cosmos: The topography of the internet – totally emergent from the information physics… and round and round we go…
  59. 59. 27/05/09 The cosmologists always have the prettiest pictures. Internet Cosmologists are no exception… (images from
  60. 60. Information cosmos: internet topographies: geographical
  61. 61. Information cosmos: internet topographies: geographical
  62. 62. Information cosmos: internet topographies: abstract
  63. 63. Information cosmos: internet topographies: abstract
  64. 64. 27/05/09 So, anyway
  65. 65. What do I mean by ‘RuleSpace’
  66. 66. What’s a RuleSpace? My definition of a “RuleSpace” is a continuum that is a continuum because it follows the same self-consistent rules. This page pictures Space-time continuum and the standard model of quantum physics- two RuleSpaces of our physical universe . Einstein, Newton, Maxwell and Feynman figured out a lot of them but we don’t know all the rules yet…
  67. 67. 27/05/09 Okay… What follows is designed to provoke discussion, and is not totally water-tight… But, stick with it and see where it takes you.
  68. 68. RuleSpace: web user experience Imagine the web as a continuum - not just of protocols that make up the web as we looked at earlier, but also in terms of the idioms of user-experience. e.g. Blue underlined links, crumb trails, tabs, left-hand navigations, naming-conventions
  69. 69. RuleSpace: web user experience Those site that follow the consensus - the shared RuleSpace of UI idioms - can be traversed between quickly… Learn the model once and you can flip between all points on the RuleSpace plain without re-learning anything… As Steve Krug says: “Don’t make me think!”… sites that sit on the mainstream plain of web-experience RuleSpace don’t! Yahoo Google Amazon BBC News
  70. 70. RuleSpace: web user experience Yahoo Google Amazon BBC News What about sites that are more brand-oriented, and less goal-oriented… for instance: These may start to have subtle inflections to their physics to express their brand offering and as such we see them positioned away from the plain and starting to move towards a place where the continuums laws start to bend… But if they want to attract a mass audience, their designers have to make sure the excesses are checked and mitigated by the consensus of the RuleSpace so they can become regularly revisited destinations within a person's daily journey through this “metaverse”. MTV
  71. 71. RuleSpace: web user experience MTV Yahoo Google Amazon BBC News A personal site, like Matt Owens “volume one” has designed his stuff to be a bubble, an immersion, a consciously entered experience. But it’s not a bubble. It still follows some web conventions, but in doing so creates a difficult tension with the consensus RuleSpace… Sometimes unsuccessfully. It’s away from the mainstream – consciously. It experiments and tries to create what might become new idioms. Informing and evolving the consensus RuleSpace – through the medium of ‘cutting-edge’ conscious sites like VolumeOne
  72. 72. RuleSpace: STARGATES! Danny Brown’s NOODLEBOX Josh On’s “ THEY RULE” Yahoo Google Amazon “ STARGATES” Some sites are true bubbles of their own RuleSpace. They are self-consistent bubble-universes with well worked out, satisfying imerssive, interactive experiences interfaces and idioms of their own. If they reside on the web – then their creators have to give us well-mannered and easy to use entrances (and more importantly - exits ) to their universes… These ante-rooms have idioms of their own… Plug-in checks, browser sniffs and navigational primers are all features of these wormholes, these stargates into and out of these alternative, parallel RuleSpaces.
  73. 73. 27/05/09 Why is this important?
  74. 74. Why is thinking about rulespace important? <ul><li>Two reasons, I think </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make web designers and content creators think about what they are doing in context. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes you’re google, sometimes you’re noodlebox. Know where you are in the RuleSpace, and design accordingly. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>keep the web being a web, of elegant and infinite variety… </li></ul></ul>
  75. 75. “ the Web represents a small world, i.e. the typical number of clicks between any two Web pages is about 19”
  76. 76. Ideal model of the web <ul><li>The ’19 clicks’ statement comes from a ‘physicsweb’ article that used graph theory to model the linking dynamics of the web. </li></ul><ul><li>This idealistic model of the web continuum – it’s ‘RuleSpace does not take into account user-experience and the affect it has on the fabric of the web. </li></ul><ul><li>The last few slides aimed to show how user-experience design can fracture the continuum of the web. </li></ul>
  77. 77. Bowtie theory <ul><li>AltaVista study showed how lack of good practice in website creation is fracturing the continuum of the web </li></ul><ul><li>A strong core and disconnected outlying areas result – the bowtie. </li></ul>
  78. 78. 27/05/09 Both the powers of ten and RuleSpace models aim to help designers and content creators relate usability good practice to design experimentation, helping the web become a web again.
  79. 79. 27/05/09 Don’t just design a website, design a beautiful part of the web.
  80. 80. And remember… we’ve only just begun…
  81. 81. 27/05/09 Thanks!
  82. 82. Links! <ul><li>Richard Saul Wurman: http://www. ted .com </li></ul><ul><li>Jesse James Garrett: http://www. jjg .net </li></ul><ul><li>Powers of ten: </li></ul><ul><li>Cybergeography: http://www. cybergeography .com </li></ul><ul><li>Matt Owens: http://www. volumeone .com </li></ul><ul><li>Danny Brown: </li></ul><ul><li>Josh On’s ‘They Rule’: http:// theyrule . orgo .org </li></ul><ul><li>PhysicsWeb article: http://www. physicsweb .org/article/world/14/7/9 </li></ul><ul><li>Bowtie Theory: http://www. searchengineposition .com/Articles/bowtie.html </li></ul>
  83. 83. Questions? [email_address]