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									Technical information architecture
I. Organizational systems
 • Types of schemes
 • Types of structures
   II. Labeling
      • Types of labels
        III. Navigation
           • The research
           • Navigation schemes
            IV. Building a better web site
                  • Home page usability

                            Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
I. Organizational systems
Organizing and providing access to information is a basic
IA function
 Must be able to deal with the ambiguity of language
 Classification is a difficult task
   Heterogeneity
    A collection of unrelated elements with different
    levels of granularity
    These should not be placed at the same levels of the
    hierarchy
   Idiosincracy
    People seem to have unique organizational schemes

                                      Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Organizational schemes
 Defines shared characteristics of content
 Exact schemes
  Well defined and mutually exclusive sections
  Alphabetical
  Chronological
  Geographical
 Ambiguous schemes
  Divided into sections that may overlap
  Useful when we are looking for something and we are
  not sure


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Ambiguous schemes
 Topic
  Important to cover the breadth of the content
  Should represent the major subject headings
 Task
  Focus is processes, functions, and tasks
  Useful when the main purpose is to have people do
  something
 Audience
  Divide the content into smaller audience-specific areas
  Important to understand the needs of these audiences
  May be open or closed
                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Organizational schemes
 Metaphor
  This is risky
 Hybrids
  Also risky because the mix can be confusing
Organizational structure
 Constrains the ways in which people can navigate the
 site
 Top down hierarchy
  Taxonomy: a hierarchical arrangement of categories
   Mutually exclusive subdivisions
   Clear parent-child relationships
                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Hierarchies
 Balancing the relationship between exclusivity and
 inclusiveness
  Crosslisting is possible in a “polyhierarchical
  taxonomy”
   Listing items in more than one category
 Balancing breadth and depth in the taxonomy
  There are three main options
   Narrow and deep
   Broad and shallow
   Hub and spokes
  The choice should be determined by the needs of the
  major stakeholders
                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Narrow and deep




                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Broad and shallow




                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Hub and spokes




                 Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Database driven
 This is a bottom up approach
  used in dynamically generated sites
 The use of relational databases means that metadata
 becomes more important
  Careful use of metadata supports browsing and
  searching
  A structured metadata scheme involves working with
  entity relationship diagrams (ERD)
   These define entities, their attributes, and relations
   among them
  Allows automatic index generation
  Searching through specific fields

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Technical information architecture
I. Organizational systems
 • Types of schemes
 • Types of structures
   II. Labeling
      • Types of labels
        III. Navigation
           • The research
           • Navigation schemes
            IV. Building a better web site
                  • Home page usability


                             Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
II. Labeling
• Types of labels
 A label provides a shorthand representation of the site’s
 organization and content
  The challenge is to use terms that are meaningful to the
  audience that accurately reflects the site’s content
 Labels should represent and clearly differentiate among
 major content and functional categories
  They should avoid jargon
  They should make a good impression on the audience
  since they represent the site owners
 Good labeling is a major component in the site’s usability

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Types of labels
Contextual links
 Labels leading to other pages or within the same page
 These should be developed systematically
  They should draw meaning from the surrounding
  context when possible
  May require working with content authors
Headings
 To describe the chunks of information that follow
 Can establish hierarchies, typically though parent-child
 relations
  Makes use of design elements to represent relations

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Within navigation systems
 Consistency is important here
 The same label can sometimes be used to represent
 different types of information
  News can refer to site updates here and press releases
  there
  Scope notes are useful to clarify the particular use
Index terms
 Making use of keywords, metadata, or controlled
 vocabularies as labels
 Supports browsing and provides an overview, especially
 when used in a site index


                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Iconic labels
 Graphics must be used carefully
 Conveying meaning may be difficult with a cross-cultural
 audience
Designing labels
 It is important to consider the site’s content, audience,
 and context when creating a labeling system
 Try to keep the scope narrow
 Make sure that the system is consistent
  Predictability helps it to become invisible
 Try not to mix levels of granularity


                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Technical information architecture
I. Organizational systems
 • Types of schemes
 • Types of structures
   II. Labeling
      • Types of labels
        III. Navigation
           • The research
           • Navigation schemes
            IV. Building a better web site
                  • Home page usability


                            Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
III. Navigation
• Information seeking on the web
What do we know about information seeking on the web?
 This will aid in the design of usable navigation
 We know it’s more complex than the standard model of IR
   Document        Surrogate      System        Query           Need
                                               Output
                                                     Relevance judgment
 This model has been roundly criticized

Kalbach, J. 92001). Designing for Information Foragers: A Behavioral
Model for Information Seeking on the World Wide Web. Internetworking
3(3).
http://www.internettg.org/newsletter/dec00/article_information_foragers
.html
                                           Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
There are alternative approaches:
Dervin’s sense-making
 Main components: user situations, gaps in knowledge,
 and bridging (information seeking and use
Belkin’s “anomalous states of knowledge” (ASK)
 We can’t easily formulate queries or find what we need
 because we don’t know what we don’t know
 The challenge is to adapt systems to ASK
Taylor’s value-added approach
 Focus is on the user’s problems
 Important criteria are the perceived utility and value a
 user gets from a system

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
The research tells us that:
 Failures in IR are due to poor system design, not user
 error
 Online search strategies change rapidly and searches
 evolve as users learn more about what is available
 User must be able to properly interact and negotiate with
 systems to meet their information needs
 Searchers constantly weigh the potential information
 gained against the cost of performing a task necessary to
 find information
 An important design challenge is saving users time
 Information seeking on the web has some unique
 attributes, but can be explained by traditional models of
 behavior

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
How do we search for information online?
Bates’ berry picking model:
 We traverse information space in a non-linear way
 We move from resource to resource, varying search
 strategies rapidly
 Browsing and searching complementary activities
 As we move, our information need may change based on
 what we learn
 We are involved in a negotiation with the system
 This means that flexibility and user control are critical
 Users must be able to interact naturally and intuitively
 with a system

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Pirolli and Card’s information foraging
 This is based on foraging theories in biology and
 anthropology
 It emphasizes our ability to calculate the value of our
 searching on the fly
  We calculate trade-offs in the value of information
  gained against the cost of performing the task
  necessary to find information
 Foraging refers to the strategies we use in searching for
 information
 It focuses on our situational adaptation to our
 environments
 The design challenges are to facilitate finding and
 retrieving while minimizing time on task

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Spool’s “scent of information”
 To forage efficiently we need to have a sense of where
 we are going and why
 The design of a navigation system should provide us
 with an accurate “scent” so that we can follow it to our
 destination
Ellis’ model of information seeking
 Starting
  Identifying relevant sources of interest
 Chaining
  Following and connecting new leads found in an initial
  source

                                      Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Ellis’ model (cont)
 Browsing
  Scanning contents of identified sources for subject
  affinity
 Differentiating
  Filtering and assessing sources for usefulness
 Monitoring
  Keeping abreast of developments in a given subject
  area
 Extracting
  Systematically working through a given source for
  material of interest

                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Choo and Turnbell’s model of information behaviors on the
web
Uses Ellis’ model of information behaviors
 Starting
  Identifying relevant sources of interest
  Typically uses familiar pages and tools
 Chaining
  Following and connecting new leads found in an initial
  source
  Backward chaining:when pointers or references from an
  initial source are followed
  Forward chaining: identifies and follows up on other
  sources that refer to an initial source or document

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Ellis’ model (cont)
 Browsing
  Scanning contents of identified sources for subject
  affinity
  Looking through ToCs, title lists, subject headings,
  names of organizations or persons
 Differentiating
  Filtering and assessing sources for usefulness
 Monitoring
  Keeping up on developments in a given area
 Extracting
  Systematically working through a given source

                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
They add four types of information seeking behavior
 Undirected viewing
  We are exposed to information with no specific
  informational need in mind
  The purpose is to scan broadly for signs of change
  Many and varied sources of information are used, and
  large amounts of information are screened
 Conditioned viewing
  We view certain types of information or selected topics
  The purpose is to evaluate the significance of the
  information encountered in order to assess its impact
  We are assessing the significance of developments in
  those areas

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
And
 Informal search
  We look for information to deepen our knowledge and
  understanding of a specific issue
  It is a relatively limited and unstructured effort
  The purpose is to gather information about an issue to
  determine the need for action
 Formal search
  We make a planned effort to obtain specific information
  about an issue
  It is structured according to a pre-established
  procedure or methodology
  The purpose is to systematically retrieve information to
  provide a basis for decision making
                                     Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Sources:
Bates, M.J. (1989). The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques
for the online search interface. Online Review, 13, 407-424.
Belkin, N.J. (1980). Anomalous states of knowledge as the basis for
information retrieval. Canadian Journal of Information Science, 5, 133-
143.
Byrne, M.D, John, B.E., Wehrle, N.S., and Crow, D.C. (1999). The tangled
web we wove: A taskonomy of www use. Human Factors in Computing
Systems: Proceedings of CHI 99: 544-551. Reading, MA: Addison
Wesley.
Choo, C.W. and Turnbell, D. (2000). Information seeking on the web: An
integrated model of browsing and searching. First Monday, 5(2).
        http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_2/choo/index.html
Ellis, D. (1989). A behavioural model for information retrieval system
design. Journal of Information Science, 15 (4/5): 237-247.


                                            Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Dervin, B. and Nilan, M. (1986). Information needs and uses. Annual
Review of Information Science and Technology, 21: 3-33.
Koman, R. (1998). Helping users find their way by making your site
"smelly". WebReview.com
http://www.webreview.com/pub/98/05/15/feature/index.html
Pirolli, P. and Card, S. (1995). Information foraging in information
access environments. Human Factors in Computing Systems:
Proceedings of CHI 95.
http://www.acm.org/turing/sigs/sigchi/chi95/Electronic/documnts/pape
rs/ppp_bdy.htm
Taylor, R.S. (1986). Value-Added Processes in Information Systems.




                                          Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
So what does this work tell us about navigation?
 People develop and use navigation tools and “wayfinding
 systems”
  They help us determine where we came from, where we
  are going and where we are going
 Navigation on a web site should support the site’s
 organizational structure
  The tools we build in should support users’ information
  seeking behaviors
  Some are “embedded”
   These provide context and flexibility in the site
  Some are “supplemental”
   These are external to the content of the site

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
One important purpose is to provide context
 This is important because of the nature of linking
  People often enter a site without coming through the
  home page
 The goal is to allow people to figure out where they are at
 all times
  Also to give them a sense of the site
  If they enter at random, can they figure out where they
  are in relation to the rest of the site?
  Will they know how to get to the home page?
  Do they know where the next pages will lead?
 What can serve as metaphorical landmarks?

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
There are three levels of “embedded” systems
 Global
  Present on every page on the site
  Allows access to key areas on the site
 Local
  Provides access to smaller sections of the site
  These areas may be self-contained (subsites)
   More common in large sites since these areas may be
   controlled by different groups
   Each section may have a different form of navigation
  The navigation elements may be embedded in the
  global system

                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Contextual
  These navigation systems may be unique to a page or
  set of pages
  Can be used to support associative learning and
  directed exploration
  Often represented with inline links
   Should be done with care since people tend to scan
   large blocks of text and may miss them
When implementing embedded navigation systems the
challenge is to minimize the real estate taken up by them
  Can use textual or iconic links
  Very important to test these tools

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Supplemental navigation systems
 External to the basic site hierarchy
 Can be critical to usability
 Sitemaps
  Provides an overview of the entire site’s structure
  Should represent the site hierarchy
 Site index
  Typically a flat listing of major sections on the site
  Will be alphabetical
  Supports known item searching
  Put some thought into the level of granularity

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Site index
 If the site is very large, it could use a controlled
 vocabulary
  “See also” references
  Term rotation (permutation)
   site map - map, site
 Examining logs can be useful to find terms that are
 typically used
Guides
 Provides a restricted way to learn about the site’s
 structure
  Tour or tutorial
  Can focus on a specific topic or task
                                     Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Guides
 Can be used to preview restricted areas
 Typically uses linear navigation mixed with graphics
Advanced navigation
 Personalization
  Dynamically generated pages based on user profiling
  Different for different types of users
 Customization
  User has control over presentation, navigation, and
  content
  S/he has to be willing to put in the time to select and
  organize the options

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Technical information architecture
I. Organizational systems
 • Types of schemes
 • Types of structures
   II. Labeling
      • Types of labels
        III. Navigation
           • The research
           • Navigation schemes
            IV. Building a better web site
                  • Home page usability


                             Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
IV. Building a better web site
Developing the information architecture
   Content inventory
         List of functions and tasks
                Chunking, labeling and relationships
                       Setting up the hierarchy
                             Evaluation of metaphor
                                   Navigation scheme
                                          Design document


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Developing structure, content, and functionality
Two important questions:
What is the range of content that the key stakeholders
want to see on the site?
 Categories of content include
  Static
  Dynamic
   Functional
   Transactional
 Have key informants generate a similar list


                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
What are the key functions that should be on the site?
 Categories include
   Logon page
   Sign-up or registration pages
   Purchasing pages
   Interaction pages
  Help pages
Have key informants develop similar lists
Combine the lists and ask for feedback
These lists form the basis for the organization and
interactivity of the site (and information architecture)


                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Seek out informed advice
 Ask the technology and production people to assess
 the feasibility of these functions
 Ask marketing, communications or others to assess
 the feasibility of moving the content to the web
 Does the company have the technology and the skills
 to meet these requirements?
 Does it have the time and money to buy or pay to build
 these functions?
After these discussions, some functions and content
may be dropped to meet budgets and deadlines
 Others may become overshadowed by more important
 ones and drop out

                                 Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
The next stage is organization
 The content areas have to be named (labeled) and
 placed in relation to each other
 This can be done with paper prototyping
Develop a schematic for the site
 1. Home
   2.1 Who we are
      2.1.1 Job opportunities
      2.1.2 How to contact us
   2.2 What we do
      2.2.1 What we sell

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Use this as a basis for the first attempt at structure
 This can get very detailed depending on the size of
 the site
 Begin with the major content areas and sketch out the
 relationships among them

                           Home

        Who we are                         What we do


      Job opportunities                   What we sell


     How to contact us


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Three types of metaphors are useful to site design:
Organizational metaphors
 These rely on the existing structure of a group, system,
 or organization
 Use with caution
Functional metaphors
 Functional metaphors relate tasks you can do on the site
 with tasks you can do in another environment
 the list of functionalities will be useful here
Visual metaphors
 Visual metaphors are based on common graphic
 elements familiar to most people in our culture

                                     Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Putting the structure, general content categories and
metaphors together provides a high-level view of the site
 Thinking about the user experience helps you develop
 the navigation scheme for the site
The major content categories can be used for the global
navigation scheme
 Then local schemes can be created for subsections of
 the site
 Testing these schemes is important




                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
There is an interesting range of navigation options:
 Text links (including breadcrumbs, parent-child)
 Icons (may or may not have labels)
 Buttons (need labels)
 Site map
 Color channels
 Title bars (bookmarks
 Status bar (JavaScript messages or filenames)
 File/directory naming structure



                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Visual design
This activity “faces outward”
 Visual design is for the people using the site
 One purpose is to provide a sense of place
  Who owns the site and what do they do?
  Where are they on the site?
  Where they have been?
  How can they get to where they want to be?
Good site structure and an effective visual design
enables people to construct a mental map of the site
The challenge is to map the site structure onto the visual
design with a “wireframe”

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
One way to begin is with the “layout grid”
 Determine the set of generic pages to be used in the
 major sections
  The content data is useful here
 Develop a set of generic page elements using content
 and navigation data
  What should be on every page
  This should be done globally and locally
 Draw the set of generic template pages with major
 elements in place
 Elements to consider: branding, advertising and
 sponsorship info, company info, contact info,
 navigation, page titles, header graphics, footers, and
 copyrights and privacy statements

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
 A layout grid




Schiple, J. (2000). Information Architecture Tutorial. WebMonkey.
http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/98/28/index4a_page2.html?tw=de
sign
                                       Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
The next step is to mock up pages
 This is the job of the graphic designer
  The general structure and layout grids set parameters
  within which designers can develop the pages
 This is also a point of tension
The result is the initial prototype
 This can be developed as a series of graphic files or
 HTML pages
 Eventually the prototype will be mounted on a
 development server and tested



                                      Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
                      The design document

1. Goals                            4. Site Structure
2. User Experience                    4.1 Site Structure Listing (or
                                          Summary)
 2.1 Audience Definition
                                      4.2 Architectural Blueprints
 2.2 Scenarios
                                      4.3 Global and Local
 2.3 Competitive Analysis
                                          Navigation Systems
     Summary
                                    5. Visual Design
 Appendix A: Competitive Analysis
                                      5.1 Layout Grids
3. Site Content
                                      5.2 Design Sketches
 3.1 Content Grouping and
     Labeling                         5.3 Page Mock-ups
 3.2 Functional Requirements          5.4 Web-based Prototype
 Appendix B: Content Inventory      6. Test results
                                    7. Implementation, maintenance,
                                       change
                                        Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
• Home page usability
A homepage is an important feature of an working site
 “The homepage is the most valuable real estate in the
 world”
  Nielsen and Tahir (2001). Homepage Usability. Preface.
It is the digital face of the company
 This is the point of first impression
 It receives the most visits although people typically do
 not spend a lot of time there
It represents a very large investment
 The average commercial web site costs ~$1,400,000.37


                                        Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
What does a home page do?
 It provides an overview of the company’s web space
 It provides a high level view of the site’s information
 architecture
 It lays out the top level navigation scheme
The page has marketing functions as well
 This is where branding begins
 The groundwork for trust-formation occurs here
 The basic messages of the organization are initially
 presented here


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Design goals
How can you communicate the purpose of your site?
 Make sure that your logo is visible and in a noticeable
 location
 Use a slogan that concisely explains what you do
   Use it to differentiate yourself
 Make sure that the home page is distinct in its design
   This minimizes user confusion
 Decide what the most important tasks are for your
 patrons and display appropriate links prominently
  Be sure to include contact information


                                      Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Use the page to inform the visitor about your company
 Provide links to information about the company
  This could include
    About us    Employment        Investor relations
  Groups these links together
 Include a link to a page of press releases
  This is important for journalists
 Have a link to a page describing your privacy policy
  Tell people what type of information you collect and
  what it’s used for
 Only include information relevant to external audiences
  Use the intranet for the rest

                                      Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Pay attention to the content of this page - writing matters
 Use your customers’ language to describe the main
 sections and categories
  Find out what terms they use to describe your business
  processes
  Avoid the jargon of your particular specialty
 Try to minimize redundant content
 Use consistent style rules throughout the site
  Avoid the imperative except where it is necessary
 Use examples to clarify content
  Provide links to further explanations (narrowing)
  Provide links to more general information (expanding)

                                     Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
IA issues
 Develop a consistent link strategy
  Clearly distinguish links from each other
  Avoid generic descriptors like “Click here” and “More”
  Use link colors that can be differentiated
   If a link does something unusual, explain it
 A primary purpose of this page is navigation
  Group the navigation options and make them visible
   Avoid redundant choices
  Clearly label links
  Use icons carefully
  Link to the shopping cart from the homepage

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Use a consistent search strategy
 Provide an input box on the homepage
  Use a “Go” button to activate the search
  Search the entire site
 Include a link to an advanced search option
 Make the box big and wide enough to allow editing (30
  characters)
Provide task-oriented shortcuts
 Link to major tasks and functions that visitors want
  Avoid overkill with options


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Be judicious in your use of graphics and animation
 Use graphics for content and not ornamentation
  Label the image if it differs from the text it supports
  Edit or crop images to fit the page
  Be very careful about overlaying text on images
 Be even more careful using animation
  Don’t animate critical elements (like the logo)
  Remember that it draws attention away from critical
  content
 Use high contrast text and background
 Have the most critical elements “above the fold”
 Use “liquid layout”

                                    Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Other concerns:
Size matters
 Because of variability in displays, design for a 700
 pixel width
Design for deep linking
 If users come in at lower levels, what branding content
 should they see?
Design for consistency
 What is the metaphor you will carry throughout your
 site?
 Navigation: Where am I? Where have I been? Where
 am I going?


                                  Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Navigation has a purpose
  To place the user’s location and possible movements
   relative to the site’s information architecture
  Try to show a page’s position in the hierarchy
   (breadcrumbs)
  Provide search options
Site structure
  It should be sensible to users and reflect the tasks they
     have to accomplish on your site
  Don’t simply mirror the structure of the organization
  Linear structure does not take advantage of the web
   Subsites can be appropriate for large sites

                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02
Organizing information
Classify, label, and catalog content for easy navigation
 Deal with ambiguity and heterogeneity
 Clear language is essential, especially for major section
 headings
Present information with varying degrees of granularity
 (resolution)
 Different types of information may be side by side (links
 to articles and journals)
 Links may lead to single pages or groups of pages
 It may also be available in varying formats


                                   Advanced Information Architecture- Fall 02

								
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