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Making IA Real: Planning an Information Architecture Strategy


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Presented at Internet Librarian conference in 2001. Provides an introduction to what information architecture is and how you can use the methods to develop a good website.

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Making IA Real: Planning an Information Architecture Strategy

  1. 1. Making IA Real Planning an Information Architecture Strategy Chiara Fox Internet Librarian 2001 November 6, 2001
  2. 2. What We’ll Cover <ul><li>What Is Information Architecture? </li></ul><ul><li>Know What You Have </li></ul><ul><li>Get a Second Opinion </li></ul><ul><li>User Test, User Test, User Test </li></ul><ul><li>Bring It All Together </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Information Architecture? <ul><li>Information architecture is the art and science of structuring and organizing information systems to help people achieve their goals. </li></ul>
  4. 4. An Ecological Approach
  5. 5. IA From Top to Bottom <ul><li>Top-Down </li></ul><ul><li>portal </li></ul><ul><li>strategy </li></ul><ul><li>hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>primary path </li></ul><ul><li>Bottom-Up </li></ul><ul><li>sub-site </li></ul><ul><li>objects </li></ul><ul><li>metadata </li></ul><ul><li>multiple paths </li></ul>Object X Name: Product Category: Topic: Stale Date: Author: Security: portal local subsites (HR, Engineering, R&D…)
  6. 6. Components of IA <ul><li>Organization </li></ul><ul><li>Navigation (including search) </li></ul><ul><li>Labeling </li></ul>
  7. 7. Organization <ul><li>The grouping of like content together </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a way to browse the structure of the site </li></ul><ul><li>Exact Schemes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chronological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alphabetical </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ambiguous Schemes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Task </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Navigation <ul><li>Global </li></ul><ul><li>Local </li></ul><ul><li>Contextual </li></ul><ul><li>Supplemental </li></ul><ul><li>Search </li></ul>
  9. 9. Labeling <ul><li>The interface to the organization scheme - the names of the different categories </li></ul><ul><li>Appears in the words in the navigation systems </li></ul><ul><li>One of the most important aspects and one of the most difficult to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to reflect the content and the user - must be written in the users’ language </li></ul>
  10. 10. Websites Need an IA Strategy <ul><li>Websites grow organically </li></ul><ul><li>Need to plan before you build a new site or redesign a current site </li></ul><ul><li>Strategy begins with research </li></ul>
  11. 11. Know What You Have <ul><li>Content Analysis and Audit </li></ul><ul><li>Content Map </li></ul><ul><li>Classification Scheme Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Search and Server Log Analysis </li></ul>
  12. 12. Content Analysis & Audit <ul><li>Take a representative sample of the content on your site </li></ul><ul><li>Look for patterns and relationships among the content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is similar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is different </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possible attributes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify ROT </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You will need to do a complete content audit before implementation to document the site for migration </li></ul>
  13. 13. Content Audit Example
  14. 14. Content Map Example <ul><li>Site 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Site 2 </li></ul>
  15. 15. Classification Scheme Analysis <ul><li>Compile listing of all classifications used on the site </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Product names </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Look for similarities and differences </li></ul><ul><li>Can schemes be collapsed? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you need a new scheme? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Classification Scheme Analysis Example
  17. 17. Search & Server Log Analysis <ul><li>Take a sampling of the logs – a few hours or days depending upon site traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Search Logs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine top 100 terms users are searching for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What terms are yielding no results? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do these terms relate to your content? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Server Logs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine most accessed pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click-stream analysis - what path are users taking through the site </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Get a Second Opinion <ul><li>Interview opinion leaders & stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the goals and direction for the site </li></ul><ul><li>Get buy in & support from top management </li></ul>
  19. 19. “Points of Pain” Exercise <ul><li>Exercise to determine which problems with the website are related to information architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Good to do with stakeholders rather than executives </li></ul>Users complain that they can’t find things on the site. Everyone has different ideas about what the site should do. Hard to cross-sell products and services since they are so separate. Takes too long for the pages to load, especially on a modem.
  20. 20. User Test, User Test, User Test <ul><li>Exploratory user testing </li></ul><ul><li>10 representative users is usually enough </li></ul><ul><li>One-on-One testing, not focus groups </li></ul><ul><li>Ideally do it more than once </li></ul>
  21. 21. Card Sorting & Affinity Diagrams <ul><li>Card Sorting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Great for understanding how users would like to see the content organized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open sort vs. closed sort </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Affinity Diagramming </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Way to analyze what the users told you in the card sorting </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Affinity Diagram Example
  23. 23. Task Analysis & Mental Model <ul><li>Task Analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More traditional usability study </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have the user try to do something on the site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can use prototypes to test design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Paper prototypes are great so users don’t get hung up on design </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Users’ Mental Model </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine what discrete tasks the user is trying to accomplish by coming to your site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Match the content of your site to the mental model </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Mental Model Example <ul><li>Mental Model </li></ul><ul><li>Content Map </li></ul>
  25. 25. Bring It All Together <ul><li>Use the information you have gathered to create a structure that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables users to complete their tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supports the goals of the organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can grow and adapt as needs change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Remember you are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Determining content areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Designing navigational systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applying clear and descriptive labels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improving search </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Blueprint Example
  27. 27. Wireframe Example
  28. 28. Metadata Schemes <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metadata is structured data which describes the characteristics of a resource. It shares many similar characteristics to the cataloguing that takes place in libraries, museums and archives. Chris Taylor, University of Queensland </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Purposes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Document surrogate (abstract, title) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintenance attributes (date, author) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitates retrieval (subject, audience) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Metadata Schema Example Relevant to …person …product …process Subject Keywords Review Date Architectural Placement Title Attribute Name Manual Text – Controlled Vocab Engineers, Semiconductor, Fabrication Process Descriptive Manual Text – Controlled Vocab Dry Etch Technology; Transistor Descriptive Automatic Date 01-01-2002 8:00AM GMT Workflow Manual Text -Controlled Vocab My X-Zone, Product Catalog Workflow Manual Free Text My X-Zone Identity Tagging Process Value Type Examples Type of Attribute
  30. 30. Levels of Control
  31. 31. Ways to Leverage <ul><li>User Interface </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Generate browsable indexes (site-wide, sub-site, specialized authority files) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enable field-specific searching (filters, zones, sorting) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support personalization (language, location) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Behind the Scenes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enable efficient content management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dynamically generate pages </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Controlled Vocabulary in XML <SVTerm UID=&quot;SVCS::8099&quot;> <label>Document Management Systems</label> <alt>Document Delivery Systems</alt> <alt>Document Management</alt> <alt>Document Delivery</alt> <parent UREF=&quot;SVCS::80&quot;/> <child UREF=&quot;SVCS::8099129&quot;/> <child UREF=&quot;SVCS::8099130&quot;/> <child UREF=&quot;SVCS::8099131&quot;/> <child UREF=&quot;SVCS::8099132&quot;/> <child UREF=&quot;SVCS::8099133&quot;/> </SVTerm> Rapid Implementation Methodology Enterprise Document Archive
  33. 33. Next Step: Implementation <ul><li>Make it happen </li></ul><ul><li>Work closely with other teams </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphic Design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT Department </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content Contributors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not easy but well worth the effort </li></ul>
  34. 34. How To Learn More <ul><li>Argus Center for Information Architecture </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IA Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ASIS&T SIG-IA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email discussion list </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical Information Architecture by Eric Reiss </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web Navigation by Jennifer Fleming </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Thank You <ul><li>Chiara Fox </li></ul><ul><li>Information Architect </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation available at </li></ul><ul><li>PeopleSoft </li></ul>