Ten Taxonomy Myths

The Montague Institute offers ten myths that need to be dispelled before embarking on a taxonomy project. They've got a *really* broad definition of taxonomy (think "classification system") but the myths are still useful to deflate before your client or boss goes taxonomy-happy.

disinfojournal for February 2003

The second issue of disinformation is out. Especially interesting is Don't trust your eyes - a laboratory study investigating consumer behavior on the net:

Responding pictures of secondhand goods or used vehicles, which are offered in the Internet e.g. with Ebay deceive frequently over the true quality of a commodity away. ...In our laboratory study which runs over a period of 3 months we logged the Internet purchase behavior of 859 persons with a customized XMosiac 10.5 browser. We can show in this study that during identical description of a product the preference was given to the article with a photo, in 87 percent of the cases. ... We can significantly show that a worse product with photo can be sold thus better than a better without photo.

This very clearly shows the power that information architects and web designers have to persuade visitors, which is what Andrew Chak and FutureNow (and I) have been saying for a while.

And, yes, as someone commented last time, disinfojournal is a bit strange, but that's what I think I like about it...

How to create a Controlled Vocabulary

Over at Boxes and Arrows, Karl Fast, Fred Leise, and Mike Steckel deliver a great "how-to" tutorial on creating controlled vocabularies. It's one thing to talk about how great CVs are, it's even better to show how to build them.

Card-based Classification Evaluation method

Donna Maurer shares her technique for evaluating classification schemes over at Boxes and Arrows. Ten minutes from twenty users means that it's pragmatic, and it addresses classification specifically, instead of being part of a prototype with other issues to evaluate. Here's what you need to do this kind of evaluation:

  • A proposed classification system or proposed changes to an existing system. Some uncertainty, mess, and duplication are OK.
  • A large set of scenarios that will cover information-seeking tasks using the classification.
  • A pile of index cards and a marker.
  • Someone to scribe for you.

Looks great - thanks Donna!

New Yahoo! Search debuts

Yahoo has debuted its new search interface. Much cleaner, and looks like it's aimed directly at Google. I like the search results screen a lot...it does a great job of showing what index (web, directory, images, etc.) the results are from.

There's a tour with callouts highlighting different search elements. Something else interesting is the use of search shortcuts - prefix the word 'map', type an address, and you're hooked into Yahoo! Maps; type 'weather' and a city, and you've got the forecast; type a zip code with your search and you're looking at local Yellow Pages. Reminds me of parts of Paul Ford's semantic web fairytale. While Google makes a good foil, its not the only player that pays attention to such things.

Another interesting feature - you can "ScreenDial" around Yahoo - type a keyword and exclamation point, and get to a specific screen: So mail! goes to Yahoo! Mail, while news! goes to...well, you get the picture.

Excellent stuff, and congrats to the Yahoo! search team :-)

I'm curious though - what do ia/ readers think? Improvement? Google-envy? What could be better? What is outstanding? Let us know in the comments...

Update LOL - Andrés Sulleiro points out subliminal Boxes and Arrows promotion.

Good discussion over at signal vs. noise

A day in the life of BBCi Search

A glimpse behind the scenes for a site that should get as much attention as Amazon for the content producing crowd. BBC is doing a lot of innovative things, and more importantly, the process behind the innovation gets shared on a regular basis.

Lace up your Adidas - time for some UX Cross Training

What's UX Cross Training you say? It's simple: Often the best place to learn about user experience isn't at DUX or CHI or the IA Summit - it's through other disciplines (72kb gif).

This week, I've really enjoyed learning from industrial designers. Take some time in the workshops section of the Design and Emotion Society, particularly the furniture section (requires Flash). One of the main contributors to the society, Pieter Desmet has some great stuff too (with some frustrating broken links, but I've emailed a request to fix them).

Lessons Learned Now it's all well and good to pursue becoming a T-shaped person, but driving improvements to practice should be part of our cross training efforts. To that end, here's my top 3 take aways:

  • Sometimes, designing for the wrong goals will teach you as much as designing for the right goals. At first I was puzzled, and then intrigued with designing furniture that would make people sad. What will we discover if we sketch ideas on how to make it difficult to find information? Hard to use functionality? Obtuse infographics?
  • My own approach creates sustainable products and services driving shared value at the intersection of business goals and user goals by delivering an offering through some channel. But I've realized that with value-centered design, I haven't thought much about the value of emotion. I need to do more to highlight emotion as part of the goals and context of users and design sponsors. Often, the real metric of success is how my clients and their users feel - emotions trump ROI.
  • Other disciplines are a great source for stories - and stories are one of the best sales tools UX practitioners have. I'm sure telling about a shower that turns into a vehicle will come in handy soon, since scope creep is always just around the corner.
What-ML? Sorting out the extensible markup/metadata jungle.

Web Reference has sorted various flavors of XML in their very useful XMLMap™ including links to related articles. Like What's in a topic map? - explains topic maps and introduces ontologies. (thanks pixelcharmer)

IA Summit Presentations

The PowerPoint presentations for the IA Summit are being collected on the conference site - look for the "PowerPoint Presentation" link by the name of the talk.

Also, the Asilomar Institute has posted the presentations and rough notes from its preconference seminar.

I've also added this to the earlier IA Summit summaries collection post, which has a bunch of other goodies.

History of Interaction Design

Marc Rettig is amazing. His history of interaction design (3.3mb pdf) is still something I'm unpacking (and will be for a couple more weeks).

At the core is the progression of interaction design as a practice focused on operating the machine, to using the software, to accomplishing a task, to pursuing experience, to making connections, and (in the future) to dynamically enabling opportunities. Along the way, he offers areas of concern for interaction design, from strategy to screen design. And he offers a model for user experience. All in one densely packed presentation. It's worth the download, even on dialup. (thanks PeterV)

HelloWorld - socially networked software

Cooperating Systems released a downloadable version of HelloWorld this week. HelloWorld aims to create a platform for "social computing".

Alongside the chat, file transfer, personal publishing, HelloWorld displays geographic visualization of nodes in the network. I'm not sure what level of detail the visualization has - my own social network has multiple nodes close together. Not sure how well I can separate a cluster of 8 people in Edmonton at the level shown in the screenshots.

This social computing brochure (2.5mb pdf for 3 pg doc?) concisely captures CoSi's ambition. The Reviewer's Guide (800kb pdf, 36 pages) provides more depth.

They have a market is the conversation discussion area with topics on social computing, their product, etc. (thanks Yarone)

IA Education Mailing List

The IA Education mailing list is an open, unmoderated list for discussing topics related to information architecture education. Educators, students, and other interested individuals are welcome to join.

iSociety "Mobiles in everyday life" debate

iSociety "Mobiles in everyday life" debate - Matt's (very) rough notes from last night's launch of the iSociety report into "mobiles and everyday life"

The 56 page pdf report is based on ethnographic observation of UK mobile users and can be downloaded for free.

Are IAs a bunch of Quacks?

Well, looking at the upcoming Designing for User Experiences conference, one might think so: DUX2003 conference site.

Theories of Experience

Jodi Forlizzi is a pioneer for emotion, design, and experience. Her own experience framework and her distillation of other theories of experience should be read by all UX practitioners.

Closing the loop between theory and practice can be a challenge - we can catch glimpses of implication for Folizzi's framework in her portfolio and she also teaches a studio class for Carnegie Mellon's interaction design program. (thanks brightly colored chad)

IA Summit 2003

Well, Portland was amazing. Ignoring the riot troops headquarted at the conference hotel and the helicopters overhead, the conference proceeded without much worry.

Trip reports and commentary from:

The PowerPoint presentations for the IA Summit are being collected on the conference site - look for the "PowerPoint Presentation" link by the name of the talk.

Also, the Asilomar Institute has posted the presentations and rough notes from its preconference seminar.

Presentations for the IA Tools panel.
(if you find others, post them in the comments and I'll add them here)

The return of Peterme

I'm glad to see Peter back in the saddle. His thoughts have been a constant source of reflection, controversy, and insight for the IA community, and it's good to have him posting on SIGIA and starting to blog again.

The dangers of infographics

The current media spectacle that is the "war on Iraq" produces a lot of good and bad infographics. I was surfing the web looking for them and a few thoughts struck me:

Infographics are somewhat expensive and time-consuming to produce, and are therefore in their nature providing context to whatever is going on on the ground. It is, however, _not_ in their nature to provide afterthought and analysis.

The policy concerning infographics of NRK (Norwegian equivalent of the BBC) is that it is important to not overuse infographics because they can create the impression that this is a computer game and not real war with real people really being blown into little pieces.

The Guardian has attempted to create interactive infographics with Flash, but I expect something more than a pressing a "next" button through a slide show to call something interactive. There is a lot of unfulfilled potential here.

CNN.com battle scenarios
CNN.com Iraqi military sites | Surrender 101
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | More interactive guides to the Iraq crisis
VG Nett - Baghdad City

Macromedia.com Progress Report

Macromedia.com has published a progress report detailing feedback they've received from users of the redesigned site and discussing progress they're making towards resolution of outstanding problems. They've been hit with a lot of complaints from Apple Safari users since they launched.

We have received a tremendous volume of feedback on the new macromedia.com experience. Your collective feedback has been thoughtful and detailed, and is helping to improve the macromedia.com experience.

IA Summit Blogging

A request for Summit Attendees: If you've got field reports from the IA Summit, it would be great if you could post links in the comments here. Thanks!

Also, I just ran into Adam and Joshua's Community IA Summit Blog. I set up a CHIBlog for 2001, and while it didn't get as much participation as I'd hoped, I had a lot of fun. I think collaborative conference blogging has great potential, and hope to see some interesting insights from attendees...whether it's a link to your own site in the comments, posting on the Summit community blog, or otherwise.

I'm off to Portland tomorrow, so providing I clear customs I hope to see many of you there. Blogging will be intermittent at best 'til Tuesday next week.