More granular syndication

If you want to syndicate this site content using any of the indexing terms used here -- e.g. by user, subject, format, person -- you can view your options on the improved syndication page.

3 navigation articles on Digital Web
Library terms that users understand

John Kupersmith is attempting to devise an ideal set of terms/labels for library resources and services.

    The purpose of this site is to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices. It serves as a clearinghouse of usability test data evaluating terminology used on library web sites, listing terms that tests show are effective or ineffective labels. It presents alternatives by documenting terms that are actually used by libraries. It also suggests "best practices" for reducing cognitive barriers caused by terminology.
A different browsable subject list

Moshe has come up with an alternative way to browse iaslash subject lists. On the regular index, you are presented with an expanded hierarchical listing of index terms under the subject, people, format facets. In the new dhtml list you view the subject list with expandable/collapsible menus that show titles (hits) intermixed with the subcategories. If anything, this will help me troll through previous entries and fix the index terms applied. It is not perfect. I am not sure, for instance how the titles are sorted, it is not alphanumeric. I am still trying to convince someone to fix the taxonomy_html module to display like facetmap and I am hoping to try to get that module to display a-z indexes as well. If only I had more time to learn to do this myself.

What Is A Controlled Vocabulary?

Karl Fast, Fred Leise and Mike Steckel in Boxes and Arrows.

    Finding the right words to communicate the message of your website can be one of the most difficult parts of developing it. Our authors guide you through the concepts behind a well-designed controlled vocabulary and discuss the pros and cons of its development.
Professionalism and respect

Excuse this rant...

Do you think I am preachy? I posted a comment on Lou's blog (towards the end) about the use of ridicule in communication and how I feel that it runs counter to collegiality. The thread had long gotten off the topic of analyzing usage data and some generalizations had been made about IAs that I didn't understand. The particular commenter employed ridicule to make his point and I argued that this profession would benefit from communication based on openness and respect rather than contempt and mockery. I don't think I've ever needed to remind myself of this basic concept, but it certainly felt good to say it aloud. Anyway, I don't think pointing fingers and mocking people openly in public is a good way to win the respect of the community you are conversing with. End rant.

W3C Release new XHTML working draft

The W3C has published a working draft for a new XHTML standard here. Following on from XHTML 1.1 expect it to be a strict standard with no formatting tags at all.

Heuristic evaluation OmniOutliner template

I don't normally do heuristic evaluations, but I volunteered to do one for Drupal's administration interface. I created a checklist of questions under Nielsen's heuristics and wanted to record my evaluations in a simple bullet list. The template is simply an OmniOutliner file that lists the 10 heuristics, with notes describing each (taken verbatim from Nielsen). I plan to insert bullet points for each of my evaluations under each rubric and export to RTF. At that point I will probably create a PowerPoint presentation or Word document from the RTF and then save as PDF.

Use it if it's helpful to you.

New mailing list for faceted classification

Peter Van Dijk (Poor But Happy) and Phil Murray (Knowledge Management Connection) are starting a discussion group on faceted classification.

Google WebQuotes

A new application in Google Labs:

    Google WebQuotes annotates the results of your Google search with comments from other websites. This offers a convenient way to get a third party's opinion about each of the returns for your search, providing you with more information about that site's credibility and reputation.
See for instance the search results for information architecture. Beneath each result is a list of sites that comment on a result page, showing a short excerpt of the comments.

Intranet Search vs. Internet Search

In December's CIO Magazine, Dick Stenmark, head of Internet and intranet search solutions at Volvo Information Technology, takes on intranet search:

The search engine industry and the research community alike often fail to acknowledge that intranets are not just downscaled versions of the Internet, but are instead a whole different environment in terms of both content and culture. We use the same technology to build both, but the contexts in which they operate are entirely different.

The article is fairly short but quite informative and definitely worth a read. Remember, kids, it's all about users + content + context...

Can you purchase wisdom?

Peterme's recounting of an experience with a customer who believed that they could extract wisdom from a software package and vendor is really interesting.

    Part of the reason they bought this software was for the "wisdom" the software was meant to have embedded within. That there was a "wisdom" in how the software presents work processes, and that the company ought to learn from that wisdom and adjust their work accordingly, taking advantage of this "wisdom."
I'm sure there are many CIO organizations out there who think the wisdom (that intangible next step beyond knowledge) can be extracted from a technology in order to inform their users' processes. But this backward approach won't help anyone. The technology has to match the process. That's why, as Peter mentions, software needs to be flexible enough to accomodate these processes. A good lesson learned for enterprise software vendors.

Nice UX cycle diagram in there too.

Steve Krug Interview

Tom pointed to the since1968 interview with Steve Krug.

Eat Me, Drink Me, Push Me

In Digital Web, Christina Wodtke excerpts chapter 8 of Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web. This is the chapter discussing how to take your content and tasks and define them in terms of the interface. Nice examples of how tasks might be translated into UIs.

P.S. That floor plan is the second floor of my house! I diagrammed it in OmniGraffle. :)


People at Google must love being able to experiment with the medium. Webgraphics pointed to the new GoogleViewer that is appearing in the labs, which takes your search results and presents each hit (each external URL) in a viewing pane, so you can view each page within Google before going out to the search result page. It's similar to a slide show. I've seen something similar to this with a CMS' search system that shows previews of Office and PDF files, but didn't expect a search engine to do this web pages.

Our Favorite Books: Recommendations from the Staff of B&A

The Boxes and Arrows staff book list is cool. Each with a concise review.

Is the Computer Desktop an Antique
    After 20 years of point and click, we're ready to handle multiple interfaces within a single operating system. Bring on the zoom!
Steven Berlin Johnson has written a great article in Slate (with some additional commentary on his blog) about the divergent approaches/directions Apple and Miscrosoft have been taking with regard to desktop and application UIs. With Apple's iApps, the company is implicitly making the argument that the "one interface fits all" model doesn't work for organizing some types of data -- each iApp provides a unique interface for dealing different file types. Microsoft's Longhorn is going in the direction of making one interface work for browsing all kinds of data that might exist on your computer.

Studying information seeking and use

I have been dealing lately with user research based on interviews and product usage data. Some needs related to this work have been bouncing around in my head. What's fascinating to me is that related new literature has recently come across my desk and I've also participated in some conversations recently that have definitely informed how I am considering fulfilling these needs. That any of these seemingly separate things (literature, discourse, my work) should be related is amazing to me.

Here are four related recent articles and discourses that seem to me to have the theme of comparing pre-determined information structure with information usage-based mapping/cognition.

All About Facets & Controlled Vocabularies

Karl Fast, Fred Leise and Mike Steckel have started a series of articles on Boxes and Arrows to make facetted classification and controlled vocabularies accessible to practicing IA's without LIS backgrounds. Look forward to it.