Making Cents from Information Architecture

Article on the value of IA by Alan K'necht in Digital Web.

When it comes to Web development, everybody has taken short cuts over the years. This holds especially true when working on low budget projects. One of the most costly short cuts is skipping the development of a sound and highly functional information architecture (IA). While this short cut may take several forms, failure to devote enough resources and to document it properly will cost the owner of the Web site more than just a few cents.

Boxes and Arrows: Interaction and interface

What is a Web Application? by Bob Baxley

What distinguishes a web application from a traditional, content-based website and what are some of the unique design challenges associated with web applications? A reasonable launching point is the more fundamental question, ?What is an application?

Visible Narratives: Understanding Visual Organization by Luke Wroblewski

Visual designers working on the web need an understanding of the medium in which they work, so many have taken to code. Many have entered the usability lab. But what about the other side? Are developers and human factors professionals immersed in literature on gestalt and color theory?

XML Related Acronyms Top 100

My colleague at work just shared this link with me. The site has lots of great content around XML and this really cool top 100 list of XML related acronyms.

ia/ gets small for the HipTop

Sorry to throw the layout out of wack again. Sseems like I do that every 6 months. I made the default theme show the login and custom block in the right side to make the page usable for handheld browsers (Hiptops and PDAs). If you want the old theme, you'll need to select the rokakuleft theme in your account preferences.

If you're going to be surfing on a handheld you can try the new handheld theme [view screenshot]. You can select the handheld theme in your account preferences.

Quantifying beauty

Golden section, golden ratio, golden mean, and the golden rectangle pops up a lot. At least four books in my shelf mentions it, but I didn't know that ''The appeal of the divine proportion to the human eye and brain has been scientifically tested. (...) when subjects are presented with a range of rectangles, they invariably pick out as most pleasing ones whose sides are in the golden ratio.''

What's your method for settling interaction design disputes?

In speaking with a few project managers recently while consulting the topic of what to do when there are disputes over UI designs arose. This seems to be a recurring theme with more and more people I speak with these days. It's the old too many chiefs not enough indians problem.

Surely extensive user tests and hard evidence can silence a lot of this talk, but what if you only have time to do "quick and dirty" UI tests? How have others handled this in the past? What if you don't have access to actual users of the product? What if the sample size for users is very low (1-2 people)

I'm interested to hear other people's experiences in this subject...

ASIST IA Summit 2003, Portland Oregon

Going to the ASIST IA Summit 2003 in Portland Oregon? The conference web site is up.

Understanding Information Architecture

Christina pointed to this article in Online Journalism Review.

Most journalists who have made the jump to working online are familiar with the experience of being told by some black-clad San Francisco hipster that they're doing everything wrong. Jesse James Garrett lives in San Francisco, and admits to having a black-only wardrobe. What's more, he is an Information Architect, a member of a discipline that has a reputation for being a preserve of the hipper-than-thou. So it came as a bit of a shock when he told me that he thinks "journalism still has more to teach information architecture than information architecture has to teach journalism."

Is Customer Always Right?

Just stumbled on this Fast Company article "Desire: Connecting With What Customer Want." Some of it sounds very familiar from one of Lou's presentation at least year's summit and little bit of Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. From a marketing standpoint it makes sense, but user researchers out there should still take a look because it could possibly be just as valid for your line of work as well. The article is based on a book by Melinda Davis _Culture of Desire_ (2002).

Questions Information Architects Ask (London, 11/02)

More questions IAs ask from Lou Rosenfeld's tour with NN/g. This set is from his London stop.

Future of Information Architecture

Results from a survey of IAs taken by the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture in January 2003.

The decisions we make today are influenced by our implicit assumptions about tomorrow. During these turbulent times, all of us can benefit by asking the difficult questions and sharing insights. This survey is part of an effort to identify important trends and possible futures for information architecture. Results will be analyzed during the upcoming Leadership Seminar.

Social Network Analysis Management Tool

Just stumbled onto this tools called Huminity that creates a contacts management web of all the people you know. I thought it would be interesting for folks interested in social networks.

Transmedia convergence

Interesting article in Technology Review about storytelling and the convergence of assets across media to deliver and sell content in multiple markets.

[W]e have entered an era of media convergence that makes the flow of content across multiple media channels almost inevitable.


While the technological infrastructure is ready, the economic prospects sweet, and the audience primed, the media industries haven't done a very good job of collaborating to produce compelling transmedia experiences. Even within the media conglomerates, units compete aggressively rather than collaborate.


Drawing is a hot topic on AIGIA-ED. In a recent discussion Christina pointed to a wonderful resource in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain for those who want to learn.

Business apps get bad marks in usability

ZDNet reports on research conducted by Forrester that is part of a bigger report the firm is publishing that evaluates software companies that sell enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.

Forrester has found that even commonplace tasks can take 'inordinate patience' to carry out - and that adds up to big expenses for companies.

Up my street

The Guardian has a good review of the UK site, which allows people to seek information/services within a neighborhood by entering a postal code. The site has gone a step further by connecting people in within that locale as well. The ability to mix information seeking and interpersonal interaction seems like an interesting idea. When you consider that mobile devices will can be used to access services like this, new possibilities as well as new concerns are inevitable. Apparently there are some issues of privacy and safety, such as concern over the safety of children using the service. Nevertheless, a cool new way of making connections via locale.

Managing Section 508 testing

William T. Kelly on offers tips for managing Section 508 testing.

Project managers, developers, and quality assurance staff who embark on testing the first Section 508-compliant Web development project are often breaking new ground. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 mandates that U.S. government agencies provide people with disabilities access to electronic and information technology. These tips will help you find the right testing methodology to ensure that your Web development project is Section 508 compliant and also meets your client requirements.


John S. Rhodes has started a new site for trading stuff called Trodo. Here's how it works:

Trodo members use credits to request items from each other. If you want a CD from another Trodo member, you need to have a CD credit. If you want a DVD, you need a DVD credit, and so forth. When you make a request, the other member will ship that item to you for free. In turn, when Trodo members ask you for items using their credits, you ship them for free. They ship for free, you ship for free. They use credits, you use credits.

Nice! This is an idea that I've been thinking about for a discussion group I belong to. I looked around for an app that does this sort of thing -- sort of like a book circulation tool -- but didn't find anything. Without even invoking the LazyWeb, a tool that I want appears. :) Anyway, I'm going to start posting computer and design books up there.

We're #5!

Christina pointed to Challis Hodge's informal survey of job titles that returned results on Google. IA is #5.

Adaptive design for weblog software

Matt Webb's blog about adaptive and evolutionary design makes good reading for anyone interested in those concepts as they apply to software architecture and application development. Matt Jones is also linking to the blog.

I posted a short blog about the software ecology of Drupal on the Drop blog -- I've been spending a good deal of time talking to Drupal developers lately. I talk a lot about evolutionary design because I work in the the temple of Unix and C and the software ecology within my organization reflects that. I have learned to respect the wisdom of programmers that have spent decades using very elegant tools that have been refined over time. Webb's vision of the software ecology reflects the same -- small code components and an abstraction layer that are evolved slowly over time. The idea is that applications are developed separately to serve individual functions very well. The ecology is characterized by the slow evolution of software whose features remain shallow. The adaptability comes in the form of interoperability of individual applications across the software landscape.

I think it's good to reflect on this description of software development so that we understand, as contributers to the software selection process, what to consider when choosing software. Vendors of various content and document management solutions sell the concept of a platform that will serve as the panacea for your enterprise knowledge and content management and communication needs, but more important than the pitch is to understand how the platform and component pieces will allow for your solution to grow with your needs. As Gunnar has remarked in the Drupal discussion, the proof is in the pudding -- the pudding being the development team and I might add in the core software functionalities and solutions addressed by your tools.

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