blogs

Search engine optomization consultants

Never heard that term before reading James Allison's Understanding the New Role of SEO Consultants in Traffick. Here's a badly written excerpt.

    [0]ne of the main focus of SEO techniques has been site content, and in this regard, the SEO consultant's role overlaps more and more with the "Information Architect". Just as many members of the SEO community come from an advertising and copywriting background, the IA community is populated by a large number of people with a background in Library and Information Sciences.
Activating my job searches again

Ugh. As much as I hate to do it, I'm activating my job searches on the monster and techies sites again. I can feel the heavy gray cloud of impending layoff doom hanging over my group's head. They don't even call them layoffs here -- they refer to them as forced management procedures (one gets FMP'd). Whatever the hell that means. For me it means that my wife and I had the serious talk about what our plan will be if and when I get selected. I've made it through 5 or more layoffs so far, but there's just no telling.

It's hard to concentrate on work. I should have gotten the kind of job that lets me work with my hands. Maybe this will be my oppotunity to pursue that career in arts and crafts. Don't you just love the new economy.

Rashmi Sinha: Persona Creation for Information Rich Sites

Christina pointed to Rashmi Sinha's weblog entry Creating personas for information-rich websites, in which Rashmi proposes a methodology for creating personas that utilizes statistical analysis of user needs and suggests that accuracy is in fact important to persona design. The sugggestion about accuracy is contrary to the tenet in Coopers Inmates... that precision is more important than accuracy. From Rashmi's article describing the methodology, this statement seems important to me,

    Personas for information-rich sites must incorporate input about ways in which people will use complex information domains.
The methodology:

    (a) Use survey techniques (also used in market segmentation). (b) Focus questions around user needs rather than what they simply like / dislike. (c) Identify constellations of needs rather than clusters of users. (d) Use this information as the kernel to build personas around
This was a great find for me. I'm currently working with user surveys and usage statistics to describe the use of a digital library (traditional library measurement). I'm also doing more traditional surveys of user needs to create design personas (design methodology). What I was hoping to do was to use the information-use data to inform the persona development. That way I can provide accurate descriptions of users through personas, which I know is not exactly the Cooper way. There's just a great deal of thrust in my organization to be sure that user behavior that is currently high volume (popular) is not dismissed in any redesign of our products and services. I'm sort of gravitating to Rashmi's model now because of something she mentions in this requiremenet of her methodology, which I agree with, and which should help in bolstering support for personas in my organization, should I use this methology:

    The method should help ground the personas in reality (common critique of personas is that they are based on the designer’s imagination).
Great concepts. I just wouldn't want to break out SPSS to do this, though. I hated statistics in grad school. I suppose identifying constellations of needs is simple enough, though.

The enemies of usability

Peter Morville calls for a unified front in the UX community to take on the Enemies of Usability in his latest Semantics column.

KM Pings

David Gammel has come up with an excellent use of MT's trackback mechanism to track knowledge management resources. Individuals ping his KM Pings site under this URL:

    http://www.highcontext.com/MT/mt-tb.cgi?tb_id=10
Pings to that URL are tracked on the page and the site offers an XML feed of the last 20, 100, or 200 pings. Very nice. I'm going to start pinging that site with KM resources as well and am going to be aggregating the top 20 in the news feeds here. Might create some noisy feedback as we see stuff I ping get reflected back, but should be worth it for me anyway -- I rarely read people's sites anymore, I just read their feeds. If you don't exist in RDF/RSS I'm probably ignoring you.

Maybe we should implement something like that here for IA? IA Ping? Anyone using MT or Drupal that wants to try that out?.

Woo hoo! New IA books hitting the streets!

Jesse's long awaited Elements of User Experience was published this week. You can check out a fantastic sample chapter Meet the Elements (200 kb pdf). I've been using the elements to explain the different layers of UX to clients for several months now - and they get it - Jesse's done a great job. Congratulations!

No less newsworthy is the outstanding effort from Christina. Her practical IA book Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web strives for that "Don't Make Me Think" simplicity, and may be the modern introductory IA text we've been waiting for. I have yet to read the whole thing, but the First Principles sample chapter (2.6 MB pdf) is smoothalicious. Thanks Christina, and congratulations.

While Elements is available immediately on the New Riders site, it seems that Blueprints is still waiting for some last minute things before launching. Hope to see it next week. Update: Well, Blueprints is now officially available at New Riders too! Fantastic.

ps: buying through the amazon links will give the authors a well deserved extra kickback

All the Web Alchemist

This is really cool or maybe it's really scary. All the Web has a new feature called the Alchemist that will let you write your own CSS to layout their pages as long as their accessible from your browser. You just enter a URL for your CSS in a form and All the Web sets a cookie to remember where to access the CSS. You can also point to style sheets others have written and published on their site. There's even a contest for the best CSS -- you win Amazon gift certificates.

I can see All the Web doing this. They're not the most popular choice for a search engine, but they offer one of the nicest experiences in my opinion. Wonder if the idea will catch on anywhere else. I know the IA Wiki does this.

Practical Taxonomies: Stop Searching - Start Finding

My office mates, Dave Goessling and Raphael Lasar, are giving the presentation, "Creating and implementing an effective taxonomy" at ARK Group's taxonomy seminar at Le Parker Meridien in New York, NY on 18-20 November 2002. A PDF for the "Practical Taxonomies" seminar is available for the rest of the program from ARK's conferences page. Other speakers include Amy Warner and knowledge managers from various financial institutions, government agencies, and other large corporations.

Ranganathan

Is it me, or does anyone else find it interesting that everyone's so interested in Ranganathan lately. Seen in the news aggregator in the last few weeks:

  • Ranganathan for IA's -- Facet analysis is the term that everyone's dying to use. But, the basic idea of facets can be groked in about 2 minutes.
  • Peter V pointed to Fred Liese's article, "Using Faceted Classification to Assist Indexing", which is one of the best introductions to facet analysis and its practical approach in indexing that I've seen next to Louise Spiteri's articles. Liese compares enumerative to facet-based classification, defines facets in simple terms and provides very practical tips for developing your facets and using them in indexing.
  • Prolegomena to Library Classification -- It's more interesting that people are reading this sort of material. I wasn't surprised to find that Peter was reading it. He appears to be making his way through a lot of classification literature. I wonder how people might apply what they learn from examining Ranganathan's ideas around colon classification. I think the general idea here has to do with the flexibility of classification using his system rather than using a rigid system like the Dewey Decimal system. Also I think the concepts behind his system can better be used for post-coordination of classes.
A Taxonomy Primer

I came across Amy Warner's article "A Taxonomy Primer" on her consulting site. Should be a helpful primer for people being introduced to the concepts associated with using thesauri.

Scent of a webpage

I found Jared Spool's 9/18/2002 presentation "Scent of a Web Page (PDF accesible only to NYC-CHI members)" to be very useful, even without the context of his speaking notes. There are some great suggestions about how to layout and describe page objects to ensure good scent. Also some interesting conclusions that good layout and good scent support findability better than pogosticking and search.

Lazyweb idea: Yahoo! Groups as RSS

I'm procrastinating because I'm supposed to be preparing a Power Point presentation.

Here's an idea -- call it my lazyweb idea 2, idea 1 was for a blogdex of IA blogs -- why doesn't Yahoo! produce RSS feeds for their Yahoo! Groups? That way I could aggregate new feeds from certain groups without having to get emails from them. It's not a killer, but I live off of my news aggregator and I'm starting to hate email lately.

You know, come to think of it, I know it's possible to set up an email address that Radio Userland can use for posting to a Radio blog. Maybe there's even such a method on Drupal. Maybe I'll try that one day. That way I can put all of my email list mail into a news aggregator rather than have to go to my mail client to read it. Hmmm. Anyone do anything like this yet?

3d music ZUI

Braunarts' 3d music (requires Shockwave plugin) is an interteractive performance that blends music and a zoomable interface to create a 3 dimensional environment in which people explore the musical compositions. Interesting, but somehow, I feel uncomfortable in 3d or ZUI web environments like this. It's funny, because I used to play video games that rendered space in 2d and 3d and felt comfortable enough in those spaces, knowing that there was a goal to arrive at -- destroying the Death Star or getting around that pylon to shoot a tank down -- but exploring 3d spaces with ZUI's on the web just seems so slow and boring to me. Somehow something gets lost for me in the translation of the experience from the gaming world.

Catalogablog

Catalogablog is David Bigwood's weblog. I presume he's a cataloger since he's talking about MARC fields. He's also discusses metadata more generally for you non LIS types.

Alertbox: Making Flash Usable for Users With Disabilities

NN/G report summary on making Flash usable with MX.

    Flash designs are easier for users with disabilities to use when designers combine visual and textual presentations, minimize incessant movement, decrease spacing between related objects, and simplify features.
Story telling in web design

Victor and Joshua are both talking about story telling as a method for communicating possible actions or paths when interacting with web sites. Victor mentioned an IBM seminar he attended about story telling. Haven't done much reading in this area and would cetainly like to learn more if I can find the most salient literature. I did find Curt Cloninger's A List Apart article, a Case for Story Telling to be interesting as well. Cloninger makes the case for considering the narrative possibilities when designing for the web as a communications medium. He's right, web sites are often not just databases and the design should consider aspects of human experiences with sites not merely as transactional database interactions as such. I like Victor's process of mapping actions or attributes of the narrative to interactions with the site. Interesting. More obvious I guess is the development of the characters, plot, setting, etc. and flowing that into elements of design process -- personas/characters, scenarios.

Faceted metadata authoring tool

XFMLManager is a free authoring tool for hierarchical, faceted metadata. It is not yet available. We will also host the upcoming Hierarchical Faceted Metadata Authoring Experiment.

Google needs people

Peter Morville discusses why Google Needs People and people need Google.

    The reigning emperor of search caused a stir recently by launching a beta version of Google News that features integrated access to 4,000 continuously-updated news sources. Two lines on the main page were responsible for much of the ruckus:

    "This page was generated entirely by computer algorithms without human editors.

    No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page."

Truth be told, as Peter relates in his article, without humans, Google results wouldn't be so relevant and undoubtedly, it's news feeds would suffer as well:

    Similarly, the potential of Google News lies in its ability to leverage the distributed intelligence of thousands of editors and reporters. No editors. No reporters. No Google News. Without the continuing engagement of humans, Google is dead. End of story.
And truth be told, most people probably don't care how Google works its wonders, as long as it continues to work as well as it does. What would make a lot of bloggers happy, I'm sure, is if Google went an extra step to making its news results available using some API or RSS syndication. I know Julian Bond did some playing with that, which I'm already using in ia/ news feeds, but how long can it last? I'm sure Google doesn't want to hide its services in such a way.

Gelertner on KM

There's a very good interview with David Gelertner in CIO Insight, in which Gelertner talks about what knowledge management means in terms of computing experiences.

Drupal now does trackback, so ia/ does too

There's now a trackback URL for each blog entry. Check the small text below each blog entry. Also fixed some problems that were causing email notifications not be sent and news feeds not to update since the beginning of the week. All should be well again today.

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