Archive — Information architecture
Tomatoes are a bit of an ontological mess.
Why information architecture is difficult, explained by tomatoes — and not just the fruit/vegetable thing you might already be thinking.
We had developed an information architecture and tree tests as part of our programme of user research for Learn Foundations. The next step was to use first click tests to pit the new template against existing courses.
The latest post in my series for the Website and Communications blog about our user research work around the University of Edinburgh’s virtual learning environment.
After completing the top tasks survey and the card sort as part of the Learn Foundations project, our next step was to create a prototype information architecture and test it.
How we used card sorting to help us devise a consistent information architecture for Learn VLE courses at the University of Edinburgh.
775 students participated in the study — and no two students submitted the same card sort. This highlights the great challenge faced by the Learn Foundations project in attempting to create a more standardised template that meets the wide variety of needs across the University.
Four modes of seeking information and how to design for them
This is an old article, but some good brain food for those information architects out there. A good primer on some different ways people try to find content.
In my work on intranets and complex websites, I noticed a range of situations where people didn’t necessarily know what they needed to know. Additionally, when I opened my browser history to look for examples from recently-visited sites, I noticed that the majority of my own time was spent trying to find things that I had already discovered. These two modes didn’t fit into the concepts of known-item and exploratory information seeking. I call these “don’t know what you need to know” and re-finding.
I spent a while letting this rattle around my head, talking with IAs and designers, and realized that most only thought in terms of known-item searching. When discussing the other types of tasks, they’d ask with a horrified look, “So how do you design for that?”
5 lessons from beyond the polar bear
Design navigation for clarity and fidelity
There is nothing worse than a vague, meaningless link. Well, there is. It’s a link that promises much more than it can deliver. I call that sort of link a dirty magnet.
Left out of Gerry McGovern’s list of dirty magnets is my personal favourite — Further information.
Think about it. Everything on a website is further information (at least, it should be). There is nothing more useless or uninformative than a page called Further information.
Design for navigational momentum and unity
When trying to persuade people not to overload their navigation menus, I have often drawn an analogy with road signs. These must be a model of brevity, because drivers need to be able to digest them quickly.
Web users may not be travelling at 60mph, but they still want to get their stuff done quickly.
I enjoyed this Gerry McGovern article that draws a similar analogy:
The core purpose of navigation is to help you move forward. Designing digital navigation is not that different from designing navigation for a road. You always want to be able to help people maintain their momentum and get to their destination as quickly as possible. The essence of momentum is to help people move forward, and this is the essential purpose of navigation—to help people move forward.
The information architecture of libraries part 1: Dewey Decimal Classification
This article is a bit of a sales pitch, but I enjoyed this research into how intuitive the Dewey Decimal Classification is.