Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Time to Blog

All the pertinent and relevant information about what I do as an Information Architect and User Experience Designer may be found on my Website:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

IA Motto

“Information Architecture is the structure of user-centered design and usability—it has to be strong.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Navigational Systems Used in Website, Web Page, and Subsite Design

Navigational Systems are designed within a Website, a Web page, and a subsite to provide a clear path of navigation to end users—so end users will not get lost in cyberspace. In Designing and Writing Online Documentation William Horton explains the problem and symptoms of getting lost in cyberspace; he quotes from Jakob Nielsen’s book Hypertext and HyperMedia that states: “Readers in complex online documents often lose track of where they are or where they have been. In a field study of a hypertext document [about Information Architecture and Navigational Systems], 56 percent [56%] of [the end] users said they were unsure about where they were and 44 percent [44%] doubted they could find a topic they visited earlier [on the World Wide Web]” (8:210; 11:188-206).

Regarding the design of Navigational Systems, Jakob Nielsen states in Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld that a large Website such as Sun Microsystems ( contains a base of at least 25,000 Web pages (14:xi). The reason effective Navigational Systems need to be designed for any Website is that because the end users should be able to navigate through any Website, without experiencing severe problems of puzzlement or getting lost.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What are wire frame mockups (annotated)?

These wire frame mockups help an Information Architect to clearly design and draw out what a Web page on a Website might look like prior to developing it via code.

By drawing up wire frame mockups, it saves a company spending a lot of money to develop a Website because it costs a lot of money to pay a programmer and computer programmer to actually write code.

Wire frame mockups can also be used to communicate Information Architecture design conceptual ideas to clients as well as to computer programmers.

By doing annotated wire frame mockups, enable other team members to view and read about any wire frame mockup. What is an annotated wire frame mockup? It is a wire frame mockup that includes call out numbers placed next to text, which explains the technical specifications in writing. They can stand alone and be passed around without oral communication. Information Architects usually make presentations in oral communication that helps explain written documentation. Wire frame mockups include written technical specifications about functionality and rationale for a design.

These drawings provide detailed technical specifications for everyone on a team.

Wire frame mockups help Information Architects to communicate their conceptual ideas to computer programmers, and it prevents developing unrealistic design concepts that may never be able to be implemented. Other documents produced include flow charts and schematics, including doing Card Sorting.

Card Sorting

Another way to collect data about end users and their requirements is doing Card Sorting (source in IA MAEd Thesis Report).

To figure out what end users need for their Website—do Card Sorting.

How does Card Sorting work?

After you select (or recruit) a group of participants who closely resemble your user population, you should:

Step 1
Give each participant (or two participants working together) a set of index cards. Each card should include one topic from your Website.

Step 2
Ask participants to group the cards in a way that makes sense to them. Many participants start by placing the first card on the table and then look at the second card to see whether it belongs in the same group or if it deserves its own category—and so on through the set of cards.

Step 3
After participants have grouped the cards, you can ask them to name or label each group.

See pages 39, 56-59 of IA MAEd Thesis Report.pdf for further details on Card Sorting.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting the Job Done Right—Successful IA, UXD, PM Strategies

Doing IA, UXD research is really important because oftentimes the research-discovery phase reveals pertinent IA, UXD strategies—and possible design solutions. I like to think about how my professional services successfully assist and help clients in achieving their business goals or design strategies.

I bring a lot of significant experiences that add value, thinking about my professional practice of IA, UXD, that in the long-run achieve successful outcomes for IA, UXD projects.

While The IA Model is a formidable approach to doing my job, I like to think of it in a way more approachable manner; less intimidating to others.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What are user scenarios?

User scenarios help Information Architects and stakeholders to understand who intended audiences will be, as well as how an intended audience could use a Website, including how end users might use current computing technology devices and navigational systems.

This helps Information Architects to make determinations if computer programmers can actually do required computer programming for a proposed Website.

Great conceptual ideas may be well thought out. Can they realistically be designed and implemented in the digital landscape?

Another consideration that must be taken into account is what computing devices or what software programs an end user might use or not use. End users may not have a high-speed Internet connection or large computer screens to view a Website.

Understanding who the end users will be gives us insights about how to design a Website for its intended audiences. Other design issues concerning usability have to be taken into account: compliance with Section 508 of the Disabilities Act (requirements for specific Websites and intended audiences for online communities). Persona—Part of IA Research help us to learn about and define end users; source in IA MAEd Thesis Report.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

IA Leadership & Management Skills

Experiences extend in to high-quality professional leadership and project management skills, including excellent interpersonal-relational skills. Other relevant skills show expert qualifications in IA, UXD, PM because experiences and IA Credentials are specific and demonstrate savvy skills.

Doing Information Architecture for Websites ultimately helps end users in the long run. Because of my expertise in Information Architecture and Design, I work with clients on developing products compliant with user-centered design principles or “best practices.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

HCI Focus & Usability Testing

While digital design products may have technical limitations, producing high-quality Websites, or other digital design products, that work right for end users involves—prior to implementation—doing Information Architecture, User Experience Design specific to what works for end users. This also includes doing specific usability testing relevant to target audiences or end users.

IA Inspection Methods: Understanding why usability testing is necessary and how to do it. In terms of doing heuristic evaluations and how to design usability tests for effective data collection, this includes doing: heuristic evaluations, heuristic estimations, cognitive walkthroughs, pluralistic walkthroughs, feature inspections, consistency inspections, standards inspections, and formal usability inspections.

Experiences extend professionally in to usability testing and deeply rooted in the human-computer interaction (HCI) arena. Usability testing is always a necessary and required component to designing high-quality digital design products. Whatever your specific IA or user experience design needs might be. I am extremely confident that I can always find professional design solutions for every design problem.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What is concept generation?

After research has been completed, Information Architects and their team members all come together to participate in brainstorming activities, numerous discussions, deciding on the best way to move forward with their intended design products.

At this point in the process, an Information Architect produces numerous flow charts and various schematics to show the structure of a Website, developing draft concepts of wire frame mockups (though formally developed in Step 4). A way to brainstorm and think on paper by drawing out conceptual ideas, completing other pieces of relevant design research.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Integration of Navigational Systems Promote Usability

Many Navigational Systems may be integrated and used in conjunction with a Web browser. Websites require Navigational Systems because the end user will have great difficulty in navigating in or out of a Website (6:13).

According to Jennifer Fleming in Web Navigation, the ten principles of good navigation are to:

Be easily learned,
Remain consistent,
Provide feedback,
Appear in context,
Offer alternatives,
Require an economy of action and time,
Provide clear visual messages,
Use clear and understandable labels,
Be appropriate to the site’s purpose, and
Support end users goals and behaviors (6:13).

The design and use of effective Navigational Systems in Websites that helps to structure the textual elements or graphical contents of Websites. The Web designer must integrate all of the elements of Navigational Systems that they work efficiently and are ascetically pleasing.

The ability to effectively wayfind and the perceptual, psychological, cognitive, or mental ability of sense-making in cyberspace are dependent upon Navigational Systems that assist the end user in finding information online.

Wayfinding and sense-making mean that the end user can move from point A to point B in cyberspace or a Website or subsite, without puzzlement or getting lost. Understanding Navigational Systems and Information Architecture—in terms of navigation and wayfinding, mean that end users can use Websites. (2; 4:35-58; 8:15-34; 9:11-14).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Web Browsers—Built-In Navigational Features

Even though many Web browsers have built-in navigational features, they lack significant Navigational Systems. When used for navigating, the end user needs Navigational Systems that work effectively in a Website. Otherwise quick retrieval of information is impossible. According to the authors of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, they assert:

When designing a navigation system [or navigational systems], it is important to consider the environment the system will exist in. On the Web, people use web browsers such as Netscape [Navigator] and Microsoft Internet Explorer to move around and view Websites.

These browsers sport many built-in navigational features (10:48). The design, form, and function of a Website must be cohesively integrated with many different types of Navigational Systems that help to establish a clear hierarchy in the Website, as well as a coherent path in which the information is disseminated. It also enhances navigation and makes navigating easier for the end user (10:48-50).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Corporations Realize Need for Usability Testing

Many corporations realize that they have a need to make usability assessments for Websites, Intranets, interaction designs, and do research prior to implementation of any digital design products.

That means performing a needs assessment (commonly referred to as a competitive analysis). Doing Information Architecture research and implementing user-centered design principles into every design product provide meaningful online experiences for end users who use distance educational programs online or Websites to make purchases online.

Because end users should be able to use design products with ease, following an Information Architecture model is a way of ensuring that user-centered design is incorporated into design plans—in design products prior to implementation.

Another good reason to follow a model is that it helps to know where one is at in his project. Documentation enables team members to effectively communicate about projects, keeping track of milestones and deliverables.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How do you research and develop Information Architecture for a Website?

Information Architects do research by first doing a needs assessment or competitive analysis, using methods-of-design research and procedures.

These documents should include: specific research and a design plan, a competitive analysis, (in step 4 of The IA Model wire frame mockups, flow chart, schematics are done—but it is not too early to start thinking about other items for research), and supporting documentation.

Information Architects consult closely with clients or corporations to determine what their needs will be prior to designing and implementing a Website. Who has to use all of these online products? The answer to that question is clear: human beings use Websites.

Information Architects meet with clients or stakeholders to interview subject matter experts—to get at what the real need is for a client’s business requirements and for end users. This means developing a viable design plan and solution prior to implementation of digital design products.

Understanding requirements for design plans are helpful to Instructional Designers that desire to produce high-quality Websites. In the long run, end users do benefit from user-centered design.

If the Website (design or multimedia product) is structured and navigational systems developed, end users can more effectively use a Website and then concentrate on learning. Information Architects use a variety of computer software programs to produce required documentation.

Information Architects use Visio to do flow charts as well as Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) to draw wire frame mockups (Visio is a software program with extended capabilities more specific to drafting up extensive architectural drawings and blueprints; wire frame mockups are covered in step 4 of The IA Model).

Information Architects might develop a few working prototypes using Photoshop, ImageReady, and Dreamweaver. Then experienced computer programmers do HTML code refinements. The Information Architect is primarily concerned with the conceptual design part-of-the-project, incorporating user-centered design into every design product.

Adobe Creative Suite (, Visio, and Inspiration are examples of computer software programs used by Information Architects to develop and produce Information Architecture documentation and Information Architecture design plan reports. It is an individual’s choice and decision to use computer software programs that best serve their particular professional goals.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Design Effective Navigational Systems

The design of Navigational Systems that work effectively in Websites support the end user better because the end user relies on online documentation rather than printed materials or manuals. According to William Horton:

The strongest benefit of online documentation, however, is successful communication. Although difficult to measure accurately, this benefit often exceeds savings in production costs:

One online documentation project at Chevron projected savings of less than $1,000 in printing and updating costs but over $44,000 in time required for training, looking up information, and correcting errors…. [An]…online consultation system at IBM’s Endicot Laboratory helped users answer 35 percent [35%] more of users’ questions.

The U.S. military’s Personal Electronic Aid for Maintenance (PEAM) reduced troubleshooting errors by two-thirds for the Army and by five-sixths for the Navy.

It reduced the time it took tank mechanics to learn to use paper manuals from several days to minutes [because they were able to quickly retrieve the information online]. It elevated the performance levels of inexperienced technicians to near that of experienced technicians (8:6-7).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Design Navigational Systems for Quick Access

Websites on the World Wide Web provide instant access of information to the end user (provided that the end user has instant Internet access). Since the point of having documentation online is for “immediate informational gratification,” the end user must be able to retrieve the information from Websites.

This is accomplished, if the design of the Navigational Systems are done correctly; that means that they help the end user to navigate effectively through Websites in cyberspace.

In Designing and Writing Online Documentation, William Horton asserts that: “Good online documentation systems [coupled with the design of effective Navigational Systems and Information Architecture] overcome one of the most common objections to paper books, namely, that it takes too long to find information. It is a poor online…system that does not answer questions at least twice as fast as the paper documentation” (8:6).

What is Information Architecture (IA)?

The Information Architecture Institute,, gives this definition for Information Architecture (IA) as:

The structural design of shared information environments.

The art of science of organizing and labeling Websites, Intranets, online communities and software—to support usability, user-centered design and findability.

An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and Information Architecture to the digital landscape.

The term Information Architecture describes a specialized skill set, which relates to the interpretation of information and expression or distinctions between signs and systems of signs.

It has some degree of origin in the library sciences and information design. Many Universities teach Information Architecture in the Library Science and Graphic Design Departments.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What is a User Experience Designer (UXD)?

Information Architecture and User Experience Design are two given components—with regard to Websites or other digital design products—that go hand-in-hand. While Information Architecture provides structure and organization—so many other components: User Experience Design provides experiences and universal accessibility for end users designed specifically for targeted audiences. User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design that pertains to the creation of Information Architecture, including interaction models that impact user experience of a device or system. As user experience is a subjective feeling, it cannot actually be “designed.” Instead, you can design for a user experience, trying to enable certain kind of experiences. The scope of the field is directed at affecting “all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What is an Information Architect (IA)?

The Information Architect is responsible for the research and design, organization of the Websites, structuring of information on Websites, usability testing, doing Project Management; doing Information Architecture requires other components combined together for successful completion of IA projects.

In the long run, corporations that do Information Architecture for Websites may increase their profit margins. Prior to implementation, designing Websites for end users that work right.

Usability testing is also another component to Information Architecture—to make sure user-centered design is accomplished prior to implementation. Effective and well-designed Navigational Systems enable end users to wayfind successfully on Websites.