Progress bars vs spinning stuff

Don’t you just love it when you discover Information Architecture topics in non-IA-specific locations.  I saw these and thought of you folks:

I LOVE PROGRESS BARS
http://www.goodiebag.tv/episodes/11_progress_bars.htm

AMERICANS LOVE LISTS
http://www.goodiebag.tv/episodes/05.htm

I can’t vouch for the appropriateness of any of the other film clips on that site, but those sure made me smile.  AND … I think watching them constitutes as research.

University Web resources

A couple of useful websites pointed out to me by a member of the Information Architecture Institute:

  1. University Web Developers
    A social network for anyone involved with implementing and maintaining web sites in a University environment. Mostly US-based, but still a good resource.
  2. eduStyle
    Inspiration for Campus Web Designers. Again US-biased but collects together all the .edu website designs into one place.

Information Architecture Institute

Just over six months ago I signed up to be a member of the Information Architecture Institute. It only cost me US $40 for the year and since I already have “Information Architect” in my job title I thought … it couldn’t hurt to be a member!

There are a number of benefits to being a member, such as

  • networking opportunities
  • the opportunity to collaborate on IAI projects
  • post and view jobs
  • access the IA Library
  • get involved in the mentoring programme
  • free monthly newsletter

But the thing that I appreciate most from it is the email discussion group. Usually about once a week I trawl through the 200+ emails that I get from the IAI group and I’m never disappointed with some of the gems that it unearths.

The discussion is interesting, relevant and up-to-date. Quite often I’ve been made aware of recent developments out there in Web-land before they go live, or hear from the IAs and designers of particular sites as to why they chose a particular design strategy or UI element.

I posted a question asking if anyone could tell me what the difference was between editions 2 and 3 of the O’Reilly published book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Within half-an-hour I had two replies. From the authors themselves! Seemingly the third edition was simply to raise cash for their kids’ college funds! 😉

Kidding!

I’m sure there’s more that I could be doing with the Institute, there’s probably more that I could be getting out of the website, but to be honest the quality of the email posts alone is worth the annual subscription fee.

If you’re involved in information architecture

[The Information Architecture Institute] define information architecture as the art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.

then you too many benefit. I thoroughly recommend it.

Gareth J M Saunders @ St Andrews

Interaction Design Pattern Library

Stuck for how best to display your navigation? Needing to present your data in a usable way? Need help deciding how to enable users to make a choice?

Great online resource for design patterns: Interaction Design Pattern Library.

Also check out The Usability Kit from SitePoint, which includes magnetic “Web Widgets” that you can stick on a magnetic whiteboard and design user-interfaces in half the time. Only US $197.

Search patterns

Peter Morville, co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is currently working on a new book about the future of search.

He’s created what he calls “a seed collection of patterns and examples” to support his research. He’s uploaded these to Flickr and invites comment:

Over time, I hope to add patterns that illustrate user behavior and the information architecture of search. In the meantime, please take a look – add tags, notes, and comments – and suggest new examples. Cheers!

Spotted on the IA Institute mailing list.

Pixel ruler for Visio 2003 … and everything else

Visio

Oddly, Microsoft Visio 2003 doesn’t support pixel measurements, which for me is about as annoying as Microsoft Publisher not supporting colours specified in hex.

Information architect Gene Smith has developed his own simple pixel ruler for Visio.

Everything else

So, for Visio there’s Gene Smith. For everything else I recommend Cool Ruler by FabSoft.

The Architects of the Information Age

Spotted on the Information Architecture Institute February 2008 newsletter: “This month’s Fortune magazine has an advertising feature about information architecture and the Kent State IAKM program: “The Architects of the Information Age”.”

Online, information architecture is everything. If a site doesn’t understand that users searching for “pensioner” really want information that’s been filed under “retiree,” it’s not going to return the best results. And that’s just one of many pitfalls.

“If users aren’t achieving their goals when they visit your site, you can be sure you’re not going to achieve your business goals, either,” says Eric Reiss, president of the Information Architecture Institute, a nonprofit group that supports more than 1,500 professionals and organizations specializing in the design of shared information environments.

You can download the article in PDF format: The Architects of the Information Age (PDF, 159 KB)

SEO and IA

Interesting presentation about the relationship between information architecture and search engine optimization: Search engine optimization and IA: the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

Search engines help us find what we want while lacking the ability to understand the context of our needs. Information architecture is crucial to resolving this dilemma by communicating the site message in an organic as well as structured way that is visible to the primary technology users employ to find information online.

In the email from the presenter, Marianne Sweeney, she writes: “In today’s increasingly contextual Web, the initial direction to mention, that of interlinking between contextually related pages, would be more useful. Also of use, is to select certain pages as designated authorities on a particular subject and then mount a focused linking campaign to obtain links to those pages.”

Which is encouraging, as that’s what we’re attempting to do with the website at St Andrews. The BBC News website does it very well too, with its “See also”, “Related news”, sidebar links.

(As spotted on the IA Institute mailing list by Gareth J M Saunders.)