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.