The Power of Process, The Perils of Process

The Power of Process, The Perils of Process - In my experience, I have found that creating and documenting process has been a good exercise to help institutionalize ways of working, to help educate new team members as well as to unveil the mysteries of what we do for executives, product folks, and development teams.

Erin Malone points out that process is better thought of as a framework for thinking than a set of commandments...

DUX 2003 Case Studies

The DUX 2003 case studies are online - these are the same PDFs that were offered for human consumption on the conference CD.

I'm on a deadline right now so won't link to individual papers, but favorites include the Constraints panel (but I'm biased, since the authors are all excellent people), the Intel pervasive computing stuff (Connexus & Vineyard papers), the Business Issues panel, the blender redesign from Continuum (again, more excellent people), and a lot of the Informing DUX panel - particularly the MS personas, Bob Baxley's UI model, and a different take on card sorting in the Vacations vs. Groceries paper.

[ thanks InfoDesign ]

International IA

Peter Morville tackles the biggest growth area for IA - not a new technology platform, but IA practice outside the USA.

"Now is the time to actively work on building these international relationships. IA in the US has reached a plateau. We enjoyed major investment and rapid learning in the 1990s. We developed core concepts and methodology, and we experienced the trials and tribulations of interdisciplinary collaboration. As the economy revives, we're positioned to invest real energy in cross-cultural IA."

While I'm not sure about the plateau in the States, I agree that international IA is an exciting area to watch.

Yahoo buys Overture

Stumbled on an AP article through NY Times(Free Reg Required) that Yahoo to buy Overture for $1.6B Deal.

Users, Content, and Context over at

I read Use a compass to implement taxonomy during Web development with some sense of deja vu since it appropriates the Users, Content, Context model of information architecture first defined by Argus. Among other places, the model also appears in the latest edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, and in diagrams I've done with Lou Rosenfeld.

While I may grumble about copyright violation, it's good to see the model reach a wider audience...

Personas and the customer decision-making process

From GUUUI. Henrik Olsen makes some great points and presents a case study on yet another interesting and useful way to use personas.

Read Personas and the customer decision-making process.

Value of Experience, Web Teams

Adaptive Path relaunches their site. Details on the redsign are at Stopdesign's blog.

Of particular interest to me is the shift to value as the key message(note the lack of the word "design" as Peterme recently discussed). Those who read ia/ regularly may have noticed my own focus on value-centered design, so it's gratifying to see others in more influential positions than myself popularize this view.

Along with a new look comes a new article detailing Jesse's web team model (first shown at the DUX open house- correction - at the AP workshops).

Team models are particularly useful because they show the different skillsets required for a project. While using the "Elements" diagram to explain that user experience works at a deeper level than pretty pictures is fine, it requires a lot of effort for business folks to absorb the staffing implications (or RFP implications). Jesse's team model breaks it down into chunks that are easier to relate to team requirements.
thanks asterisk

Software can investigate suspicious deaths

Article in New Scientist reporting that Software can investigate suspicious deaths.

At the heart of the software is a "knowledgebase" containing a huge taxonomy of the possible ways in which death can be caused and the different types of evidence and facts that relate to them - such as eyewitness accounts, medical analyses and forensic evidence taken from the scene of crime.

Found initially at Warren Ellis' blog then on my blog.

XML Editor for the Mac

Just got this from a colleague at work. For all you MAC users out there who work with XML, this is something that could be of interest.

Morphon XML-Editor

And the shiny-designy winners are....

The Industrial Design Excellence Awards 2003 (IDEA) - "The Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) are dedicated to fostering business and public understanding of the importance of industrial design excellence to the quality of life and the economy and showcase the best industrial design from across the US and around the world."

I actually find Industrial Design to be closer to IA and user experience practice than many visual design practices, largely because ID deals with creating artifacts that are used, while much print work is designed to create an impression, but not used. Of course, environmental design for signage, or information design for medical labelling are very much "used artifacts" rather than exercises in one-way messaging. thanks [Xplane, Xblog]

Product Research, Hypertext Cycles, and Decision Making

Peter Merholz muses on users seeking products and comes up with some intersting thoughts about hypertext patterns. Rather than getting the "lay of the land" first, users move to an actual product and then start to compare.

He ends with a foray into decision making, and looking for useful resources. While I have more thoughts on the matter, I think it boils down to Return on Experience - everyone has an intrinsic level of effort they'll invest to achieve some expected value.

How does IE affect web standards?

How does the news that Microsoft are withdrawing IE as a free browsers and instead bundling with MSN for Mac and Windows affect web standards? WaSP has an interesting commentary on the subject.

The Right Number

Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics has started his own online novela/comic called The Right Number. It's about math, sex, obsession and phone numbers and it features a zoomable interface. Check it out.

Information Foraging

The June 30 Alertbox goes into a little bit of detail on information foraging. People act like hunting animals in their quest for online survival.

Besides the popular aspect of scent, it also talks about how people choose what to eat (select sites) and when they decide to hunt new patches (go to other sites).

It all boils down to a bunch of internal cost-benefit analyses. Your information architecture can steer people to deciding that your site is not worth the hassle. Or the IA can make it clear what to expect from the site and how to get it.

AIfIA Translation Project Launch.

Today AIfIA launched it's Translation Project. There are quite a few great resources there that have been translated and I'm sure much more to come. From the press release:

The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture (AIfIA) Translation Project is translating information architecture (IA) resources and articles to and from eight languages. Today, the initiative provides resources in Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish on the AIfIA website.

Read the press release.

Understanding information taxonomy helps build better apps article examines basic taxonomy overview.

I'm particularly interested in seeing how IA subjects like this are presented to a wider audience of non-IA specialists. I wonder if a 2 page summary dumbs things down too much, or if it offers a way for interested readers to be introduced to a subject and find resources to learn more.

W3C release WCAG 2.0 working draft

The W3C has released a draft for the new Web Content Accessibility Guidlines (WGAC) 2.0. Since the WCAG 1.0 were released in May '99 this is a welcome update, and gives a flavour of the changes in how content is used on the web. Accessibilty is also being simplified to make it easier for content producers to make their content accessible. A, Double A, and Triple A are gone to be replaced by CORE and EXTENDED checkpoints.

This document is well worth a read and although not yet a reccomendation will give so idea of how best to start planning WGAC 2.0 compliance.

My article on Navigation for CNET

I recently wrote an article for CNET's 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