Information Technology Architecture Strategy Plans by goq19818

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Jennifer A. Fell
September 13, 2006
   Introduction
     Me
     My team
   About my roles
     Strategist
     Architect
   My information architecture philosophy

   Technology and tools: A nod
About me
   Information Strategist and Architect for a portfolio of products at IBM
   16+ years of information and software development expertise
   Training
        B.A. in English; minor in computer science
        Practiced in user-centered design and testing
        Conversant in human factors
   Roles
        Information developer
        Course developer
        Course instructor
        Information development team lead
        UI designer
        Member of technical staff
        Manager
        VP of Engineering
My team
   Reports to a central User Technology team
   Matrixed into portfolio development team
      Approximately 20 products
      3 brands
   Information development team
      3 managers
      3 editors, including 1 terminologist
      ~30 writers
   Scope: All text that is provided with the product
      UI labels, messages, embedded introductions and assistance
      Introductory tutorials and viewlets
      Help
      Conceptual, task, and reference information
About you
 What is your role on the team?
 Do you have a strategist on your team?
 Do you have an information architect on
  your team?
 What does your information architect do?
Information strategy:
The business of what we deliver
 Ensure that we are spending money on the
 things that have the biggest impact to the
 business and our customers today and tomorrow.

 Ensurethat we are competitive in the
Information strategy:
Where are we now?
 Strategy    considers questions such as
  What are the strengths of our information?
  What are the weaknesses of our information?
  What are our opportunities?
  What are our threats?
  What are other information development teams doing
     Within the broad profession?
     At my company?
    users evaluate the strengths and
 The
 weaknesses of our information
Information strategy:
What are others doing?
 What is the business strategy?
 What is the product strategy?
 What is the sales strategy?
 What is the corporate information
 What is the software group information
 What is the competition doing?
Information strategy:
Where are we going?
   Strategy answers questions such as
     What  kind of information do we deploy on the
      Web today? Tomorrow?
     Should we provide cross-product solution
      information? What are the key solutions we
      should address?
     What is the roadmap for getting there from
Information strategist in action
   Collaborate across the product planning and leadership team
     Product management
     Marketing
     Information development
     User experience
   Collaborate with other portfolio and product teams
   Evaluate and helps bring forward strategic initiatives from within
    information development, including product initiatives
   Evaluate new projects
     What do customers need?
     What do we have that can be leveraged?
     What will it cost? (work items and estimates)
The result:
Priorities backed by the business
   Support flexible product packaging strategy and
    solution bundling by providing information that
    can more easily be reused
   Decrease time-to-value by providing better
    installation and introductory information
   Decrease support costs by providing more
    troubleshooting information, especially on the
    Web where customers can find it via Google
 Who determines information strategy on
  your team?
 Could you articulate your team’s
  information strategy if asked?
 Could your extended team?
Information Architect
Information architecture is…
   The implementation of the strategy
An information architect…
     Understands the users, products, technology, competition, and
      business, working with UE, human factors, marketing,
      development, service, support:
         Researches & understands user requirements
         Assists in user and task modeling, using those models to define
          information model
         Assists in developing personas
         Assists in developing scenarios
         Assists in designing the UI task flow, and therefore the
          information flow
         Finds the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear
         Validate designs with intended users
     Owns and drives the information-related aspects of all of
An information architect…                                            (cont)
    Defines the overall solution for how information is delivered
     (vs. authored, developed, or managed), based on user’s goals
     and user’s context:
        Information model & organization of content
        Navigation & linking & retrieval
        Location & storage (Web, CD, installed)

    Information architecture ensures that information is retrievable,
     presents a cohesive mental model, and is consistent, especially
     across products

    Fulfills a formal role, defined as part of the corporate IRUP

    In short: An information architect makes sure the pieces connect
     to provide the greatest value to all customers.
Information architecture and the
extended user experience team

     Editing                    Writing                 Human Factors               Visual Design

                          Topic           UI terminology/labels   Structure of UI
Organizational edit    organization                                   menus         Relationships between
                                                                                       visual elements
Technical edit, esp.    Headings
  organization and
 retrievability DQTI   Index labels
   characteristics     Information

                                      Information Architecture
The IA role does not include…
   Information development team lead role
         Ownership/responsibility for the documentation plan
         Ownership/responsibility for executing the ID plan
   ID project manager role
         Project management, tracking, scheduling, etc.
   ID infrastructure lead role
         Ownership/responsibility for the technical details of the implementation,
          including designing solutions and creating processes for file storage and
          version control, information builds, information testing, etc.

   The same person might fill all of these roles on some teams, but as a
    role, IA is not about these things. I don’t fill these other roles on my
    team right now.
   I lead or participate in development of
       Scenario development
       User role and persona descriptions
       Task analysis and modeling
   I am a mandatory reviewer for
     Information plans
     Content plans
     Navigation and tables of contents
     Templates (such as DITA specializations)
   I help seek and analyze user feedback
     Customer feedback plans and summaries
     Customer advisory board presentations and results
     Customer conference presentations and results
Information architecture’s
impact on the business
   Customers consistently request:
       Better retrievability
       Solution-oriented information
       A seamless information experience across products
   Good information architecture can fulfill those requests and:
       Reduce total cost of ownership
       Reduce customer support calls
       Reduce number of non-defect customer support issues (NDOPs)
       Increase customer satisfaction
   All information developers can work toward these goals in their
    information deliverables and contribute to the overall information
My approach
   Strategy is the foundation
   Move information close to the user
   Progressively disclose information
   Architect for flexibility
     People buy products; they don’t use them
     Topic-based information
     Component-based architecture

   Dynamic delivery
Build off the foundation




Move information close to the user
   Everything the user sees is a user interface,
    including APIs
   Work with UI and user experience teams to
    make the interface as easy-to-use as possible
   Embed as much information as practical directly
    in the UI itself
     Getting Started or Welcome pages
     UI labels
     Message text complete with user action for recovery
Progressively disclose information

   Progressively disclose more information at
    user’s request
     Hover help or tool tips
     Contextual help
     Complete conceptual, task, reference information

   Seamless connections and transitions
     The user should never have to hunt for the next clue
     This is not a scavenger hunt 
Architect for flexibility
   My team contributes to 20 products, under 3
   Products historically renamed once each year
   Some capabilities are provided in 6 products
   Customers want solutions, not products, so
    solution bundles are becoming more
    common…and need to be flexible to market
People don’t use products
   People use solutions, capabilities, features, technical components
   Example
      Goal: federating information
      Capability: federation
      Technical component: federated server
      Product: IBM WebSphere Federation Server
   Product name reserved for things that exist because we package as
    products: installation, release notes, what’s new
   Capabilities, technical components referred to in most other product
   Cornerstone of re-use on my team: Information can be reused
    wherever we provide federation capability
Topic-based information
 One   thought or idea

 Themost finely grained portion of content that merits or
 requires individual treatment

 Questions   to consider when chunking
  Can   the information be segmented into multiple chunks that users
   might want to access separately?
  What is the smallest section of content that needs to be individually
  Will this content need to be re-purposed across multiple documents
   or as part of multiple documents?
Why topics?
   Flexibility in presentation
     Structure
     Organization
     Categorization
     Necessary redundancy
   Reuse
     Across products
     Across divisions
     Outside the company
   Single sourcing for reuse decreases maintenance time—maybe 
   Minimalist—enables us to provide just the information users need, just when
    they need it
Component-based architecture
 An   information component is
 A  group of related topics that “travel” together
  The largest group of topics that won't ever be split apart as a result
   of remarketing, repackaging, technological componentization, user
   tasks, or usage scenarios.
 The  topics in a component also won't be split apart for our
  own work management purposes; all topics in a
  component are owned by the same information developer
 Power is in the ability to assemble them in new and
  interesting ways as needs change
Modeling components and
   Components packaged into information center plug-ins
   Components packaged into PDF books
   Plug-in and book definitions can cross segment ownership
   Product information set is a collection of plug-ins and PDF books
                                         Product’s PDF Suite

                                                 Book 2
                              Book 1

               Segment             Segment             Segment

       Component    Component     Component    Component       Component

       Component    Component     Component    Component       Component
Modeling components and
deliverables (cont’d)
                             Product’s Information Center

 Plug-in 1                    Plug-in 2      Plug-in 3       Plug-in 4

             Segment            Segment                  Segment

  Component      Component     Component      Component      Component

  Component      Component     Component      Component      Component
Dynamic delivery
   Information adapts
     Products and capabilities installed
     Platforms used
     User level
   Information components hide and become
    visible as needed
   Runtime instead of development-time reuse
     Plug-and-play  components
     Not “starter doc”
Technology and
DITA and Eclipse
   DITA enforces topic-based information
   DITA support components
       At least 1 DITA map per component
       Maplists combine maps in a component
       Maplists combine maps across components
   Eclipse provides flexible delivery
       Dynamic integrated navigation across all installed components
       Future: Filtering components

   And that’s how I got here tonight 
Resources: Information
architecture and design
   Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug
    A short, excellent book that contains human factors, usability, and information
    architecture and design information. Well worth the short read.

   Web Navigation, Jennifer Fleming
    Navigation is a critical part of the information architecture of products, Web sites, and
    online information systems. This book covers principles that apply to all of these.

   Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Lou Rosenfeld and Peter
    Says Web, but principles apply generally. Excellent book.

   Developing Quality Technical Information, 2nd ed., Gretchen Hargis, et al.
    IBM’s very own. The basis for our Edit For Quality process. Sleep with it under your
Resources: Information
architecture and design
   Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture
    Professional organization for information architects.

   Society for Technical Communication
    Professional organization for technical communicators. SIGs for usability and
    information design are particularly pertinent.
Resources: Human factors
   Human Factors for Technical Communicators, Marlana Coe
    An excellent introduction to human factors that is specific to information use.

   Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
    Professional society dedicated to promote the discovery and exchange of
    knowledge concerning the characteristics of human beings that are
    applicable to the design of systems and devices of all kinds.

    A special interest group (SIG) of the Association for Computing Machinery
    (ACM) focused on computer-human interaction (CHI)—those working on the
    design, evaluation, implementation, and study of interactive computing
    systems for human use.
Resources: User-centered
process and usability
   The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Alan Cooper
    The ultimate cranky developer takes on the software-development process
    and the lack of user-centered approach. Justifies design before coding.

   Usability Engineering, Jakob Nielsen
    Early process book; basis for most later approaches.

   The Usability Engineering Lifecycle, Deborah J. Mayhew
    Good end-to-end process coverage.

   Software for Use, Larry Constantine and Lucy Lockwood
    A very detailed, model-oriented, engineering approach to user-centered
Resources: UI design
     The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman.
      This could be considered a human factors or usability book. A seminal work.

     About Face, 2nd ed., Alan Cooper
      Update of an early classic. Adds significant Goal-Directed Design™ (Cooper’s
      process) information.

     Designing Visual Interfaces, Kevin Mullet
      Visual communication in UI design.

     Designing Effective Wizards, Daina Pupons Wickham
      Wizards are an important information deliverable in the UI!

      Webzine/information site with timely UI design opinion and resources.

     User Interface Engineering
      Jared Spool’s primarily Web-oriented usability and design site. Interesting
      research results.

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