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My article on Navigation for CNET Builder.com

I recently wrote an article for CNET's Builder.com on recommendations for web site navigation. I'm targeting software developers like myself, who may not be as familiar with the principles of site design and architecture as usability experts or web designers.

Determine the best elements for Web site navigation

Notes from Special Libaries 2003 Conference

I posted my notes from the SLA 2003 conference. It's rather lengthy and may only be of interest to those interested in what's happening with library information systems and services.

So What Exactly is a Call to Action?

Grok has a nice description of "Call to Action". I've actually never heard it articulated before either. He uses a good example of how guests at a hotel are prompted to take action, or guided to their possible next steps. He goes on to say...

It is absolutely okay to ask your visitors to take action. In fact, you must ask them. Because if you don?t, all you can do is hope they?ll figure out what they are supposed to do next and then actually do it. Without well-considered, well-placed Calls to Action, you leave a lot more to chance.
AIfIA Job Board

Looking for a job? The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture will soon be announcing the launch of its new Job Board. Here's a description:

The AIfIA Job Board serves as a clearinghouse for position postings relating to information architecture and more broadly to information design, interaction design, and HCI.

The Job Board is a service for AIfIA members. AIfIA is the only professional organization solely dedicated to information architecture professionals and our membership serves as a qualified pool of candidates in this emerging field.

Kudos to the AIfIA folks who worked on this.

Knowledge Management glossary, primer and bibliography

AOK: Knowledge Strategy newsletter (login required) pointed to these resources for knowledge management:

Federated search overview

I recently heard Roy Tennant tell a group of information professionals that "only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find." Roy should get together with Peter to combine his findability meme with this appropriate tagline.

In keeping with this findability theme, Tennant's describes some of the current offerings in the federated search space in his latest Digital Libraries column in Library Journal. This is an area that is hot with vendors in the information searching space right now.

Western States Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices

The Western States Digital Standards Group (WSDSG) Metadata Working Group's best practices for using Dublin Core metadata elements is an excellent resource to consult when starting a project requiring metadata. The group came up with a set of guidelines for using Dublin Core during the development of a "Western Trails" digital library project. From the document's purpose and scope statement:

These best practices offer assistance in creating metadata records for digitized resources, both those that are born digital as well as those that are reformatted from an existing physical resource (photographs, text, audio, video, three-dimensional artifacts, etc.).

You can download the 1MB PDF from the Western Trails site.

Scout Portal Toolkit: Open Source Digital Library Application

Since I blogged the Gassie presentation earlier, I thought I should mention one of the applications she chose for the digital project. Scout Portal Toolkit is an open source (requires PHP and MySQL) application that allows an organization to maintain a library of resources via a web site. The application with the following features: configurable metadata tool with a field set based on Dublin Core; vocabulary control; fielded searching (in advanced search); user annotation; email alerting and the ability save search strategies; and a recommender system. I was impressed with the demo, so I installed on my system and have been evaluating it for the past week. Last year I suggested to some Drupal friends that I would like to develop a libary-type module for that application that would use the DC metadata elements. Of course, life being what it is, I never got to that. I may forgo coding something for myself in favor of just using SPT because it seems pretty robust.

Digital From Birth: IA for building a digital library

Lillian Woon Gassie and Greta E. Marlatt's case study presentation at the SLA 2003 conference provided a thorough examination of the process undertaken to build a digital library for the Homeland Security program of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. The presentation gave a good idea of the steps leading to the development of the digital library, which will eventually be partially available to the public, but will mainly serve students in the School and other military and civilian people involved in Homeland Security. The presentation touches on goals and rationale for the project, audience and personas, political and monetary constraints, metadata and classification strategies, technical specifications and and analysis of tools and technologies evaluated and selected for the project.

Lillian has posted afew other presentations that may be of interest as well to information architects. As usual, you won't get all the details communicated in a PowerPoint presentation, but when reading the "Digital from Birth" PPT, be sure to look at the very extensive speaking notes that go with each slide.

Digital from Birth: Information Architecture for Building a Digital Library,
presentation with Greta E. Marlatt at the SLA Annual Conference, New York City, June 9, 2003.
Online Presentation | Download PPT file (2.8 MB)

Taxonomies for Communities of Practice,
presentation at the e-Gov Knowledge Management Conference, Washington, D.C., April 16, 2003.

Metadata Tools, Practices and Ontologies,
presentation at the Monterey Bay Area Workshop on Data Management & Visualization, MBARI, Monterey, April 7, 2003.

Anacubis: Visualization tool for navigating a finite info. space

At the SLA conference this year I got to demo Anacubis. I don't often see anything too interesting in the exhibition halls of library & info. sci. conferences, but this tool caught my eye. Based on the investigative software used by police in England and developed by i2 Group, Anacubis is a visualization front-end for data sets. The demos that showed included a front-end for Dun & Bradstreet company research, Lexis Nexis Legal databases, and intellectual property databases. In the D&B example, once you are viewing a company's information you can browse customer, competitor and subsidiary companies, as well as view officers visually. I've seen some application of similar visualization tools -- mostly it seems social network and map-based stock market visualizations have been around -- but this seems to be the first major commerical entry in the area of commercial information provision. I can see major advantage in the visualization of patent information, for example. This kind of information can be invaluable to companies looking to protect their patents and visualization tools can certainly help exploit our visual senses, which are more efficient/quicker when it comes to picking out patterns of information.

You can view a demonstration of their tool here.

Benefits of User-Centered Design

The Centers for Disease Control offer a short summary of the benefits of user-centered design (22kb PDF). It's four pages of collected UCD benefit wisdom, from Tom Landauer, Susan Dray, etc. that offers a quick hit for explaining advantages of the UCD approach.

Diversity on the Web

The June 16 Alertbox reminds us that the web is about niches.

Even as a few of the big sites get bigger, the sum of all of the small sites is a lot more important.

XML Presentation Syntax for OWL is released

From the World Wide Web Consortium home page:

The Web Ontology Working
Group has released XML Presentation Syntax for the OWL Web Ontology Language (OWL) as a W3C Note. The Note suggests one possible XML presentation syntax and includes XML schemas for OWL Lite, OWL DL, and OWL Full.

• Read the XML Presentation Syntax note

• Find out more about Web ontologies

Jesse James Garrett in Conversation

For the next couple weeks, our favorite IA named after an outlaw will be a guest on the WELL, discussing the Elements of User Experience and other tasty things.

The conversation is well worth checking out (though it's one long page that takes some investment). You can also participate: send questions by emailing the discussion hosts.

ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 Presentations

ASIS&T has posted all of the presentations from the Information Architecture "Making Connections" Summit in Portland, OR.

Thanks to Gary Price, who I got to meet at SLA.

DUX Conference Notes Here

Ok, as much as I like serendipity, I really want to aggregate the DUX notes out there. I was not fortunate enough to head to DUX last weekend, but I've been randomly stumbling onto the notes. Please post your notes or links to your notes if possible in the comments:

Amy Lee
Boxes & Arrows (Erin Malone)
Brad Lauster and Day 2
Update:
Aaron Oppenheimer
Gene Smith's Photos
Celia Romaniuk's notes on Buxton & Kapor
Uday Gajendar
Danny O'Brien in which he somewhat apologizes for the panel that he was on...

What do interaction designers do?

Christina's wondering what it really is that interaction designers do as part of her work defining roles and teams at Yahoo! She's got a list started, but is looking for feedback.

What would you add to these activities: requirements gathering, needs analysis, conceptual modeling, personas, scenarios, task analysis, user flow/use case design?

I also think of interaction designers doing screen design at the wireframe level.

Goodies From Boxes and Arrows

Boxes and Arrows publishes two great features this week. First, Dan Brown with Special Deliverables #8 - Deliverables and Methods.

Next we have one I found particularly interesting and useful, Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It by Dabney Gough and Holly Phillips.

As always great stuff from B&A.

The Google Dance Syndrome

Interesting article on Google Dance Syndrome by Chris Sherman over at SearchEngineWatch.com. Apparently there are many webmasters out there who are fixated on how they rank in Google to the point they worry and try to optimize. I have to admit I kind of review the sites of many of our web authors in the Google index, but I also review other sites such as Teoma and MSN :) Who doesn't? I'm curious about freshness,coverage, and depth for these engines, and it gives me a good idea about how our sites are doing from referrals from these engines. I'm curious to hear if others monitor their company's sites in the various search engines.

Interaction Design Grad School

I've started a blog to document my upcoming two years of graduate work in interaction design at Carnegie Mellon.

For those of you who want to know what design grad school is like, (but don't want to spend the time or the money!) this is for you.

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