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INFM 700: Session 1 What is Information Architecture? Paul Jacobs The i. School University INFM 700: Session 1 What is Information Architecture? Paul Jacobs The i. School University of Maryland Tuesday, February 3, 2009 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3. 0 United States See http: //creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3. 0/us/ for details

Today’s Topics ¢ Overview of course ¢ The architecture analogy ¢ Information architecture: topics Today’s Topics ¢ Overview of course ¢ The architecture analogy ¢ Information architecture: topics and issues ¢ Course administration and logistics Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Information Architecture ¢ What is it? (for starters) l l ¢ Architecture – structural Information Architecture ¢ What is it? (for starters) l l ¢ Architecture – structural design [of web sites] to support function and form Information – organized [electronic] content So our goal is to master the design of web sites for organizations that effectively deliver information to their users Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Good Information Architecture ¢ ¢ Users learn what they need (e. g. , how Good Information Architecture ¢ ¢ Users learn what they need (e. g. , how to install a driver, use a piece of software) ¢ The archtecture analogy Users get what they need (e. g. , a book, a plane reservation, a stock trade) ¢ Course overview Users find what they need (e. g. , information content) Users don’t waste time ¢ Users are happy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Good Information Architecture ¢ Organizations have happy users/customers ¢ Organizations make money/save money ¢ Good Information Architecture ¢ Organizations have happy users/customers ¢ Organizations make money/save money ¢ Organizations get their message across ¢ Organizations can keep things going and make changes when necessary ¢ Organizations are happy Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Bad Information Architecture ¢ ¢ Users go away or go to a competitor’s site Bad Information Architecture ¢ ¢ Users go away or go to a competitor’s site ¢ Organizations waste/lose money or fail to gain revenues/clients/users ¢ Course overview Users can’t get what they want/need, are confused or frustrated Organizations are unhappy ¢ We get fired The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Information Architecture: Tools and Techniques (Examples) ¢ ¢ The archtecture analogy IA topics and Information Architecture: Tools and Techniques (Examples) ¢ ¢ The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Vocabulary and labeling systems ¢ Course overview Understanding the user experience (e. g. , user studies, card sorting, search log analysis) Organization/navigation aids and tools (e. g. navigation bars, menus, site index, hierarchies/hypertext, breadcrumbs) ¢ Search engines ¢ Design tools (e. g. , wireframes, blueprints) Course administration i. School

Information Architecture: Business and Process ¢ Information architecture strategy ¢ Business processes ¢ Build Information Architecture: Business and Process ¢ Information architecture strategy ¢ Business processes ¢ Build vs. buy ¢ Team composition and skills Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Information Architecture: Segue ¢ What is it? [from the text] l l Course overview Information Architecture: Segue ¢ What is it? [from the text] l l Course overview The archtecture analogy ¢ The structural design of shared information environments The combination of organization, labeling, search, navigation systems within Web sites and intranets The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape Now let’s consider the architecture analogy… IA topics and issues Course administration from M&R, p. 4 i. School

Examples of Architecture… Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration Examples of Architecture… Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration Image source: Wikipedia i. School

Why architecture? ¢ What does designing buildings have to do with designing Web sites? Why architecture? ¢ What does designing buildings have to do with designing Web sites? ¢ What is architecture really about? Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

The Architecture Analogy ¢ A building must… l l l ¢ A web site The Architecture Analogy ¢ A building must… l l l ¢ A web site must… l l Course overview Look good Be usable (for working, living, playing, etc. ) Stand up l Look good Be usable (e. g. , find or get what you need) Stay up (i. e. , not crash, last over a period of years) The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Other Parallels… ¢ Combination of art vs. engineering Course overview The archtecture analogy IA Other Parallels… ¢ Combination of art vs. engineering Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Florence Cathedral, with dome designed by Brunelleschi Course administration Image source: Wikipedia i. School

Other Parallels… ¢ “Pretty” but unusable: Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and Other Parallels… ¢ “Pretty” but unusable: Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration Ray and Maria Stata Center, MIT; designed by Frank Gehry ¢ Countless examples…what else? Rhode Island School of Design: http: //www. risd. edu/ Image source: Wikipedia i. School

Importance of Metaphors ¢ Metaphors describe/shape our thoughts l l Anger as heat (see Importance of Metaphors ¢ Metaphors describe/shape our thoughts l l Anger as heat (see Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors we Live By) Political “framing” (e. g. , “death tax”, “tax relief”, see Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant) ¢ ¢ Course overview Why are metaphors so pervasive? Why are metaphors important in information architecture? The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Metaphors on the Web ¢ Question: What types of metaphors do we need on Metaphors on the Web ¢ Question: What types of metaphors do we need on the web? ¢ Interactive metaphors l l l ¢ Navigational metaphors Course overview l The archtecture analogy l IA topics and issues Course administration ¢ “Pull down”, “pop up”, “open” “Window”, “toolbar” “Shop”, “check out”, “cart” “Browse”, “surf” “Table of contents”, “site index” Are metaphors consistent? Do we all apply the same metaphors? i. School

The Architecture Analogy: Summary ¢ The analogy is helpful l ¢ Like all analogies, The Architecture Analogy: Summary ¢ The analogy is helpful l ¢ Like all analogies, it goes only so far l Course overview The archtecture analogy ¢ …in explaining information architecture to friends and family …in understanding and analyzing IA concepts …in applying IA concepts to web design Web sites are not buildings Consider the role of analogy and metaphor in any user-centered software activity IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Information Architecture: Topics and Issues ¢ Key concepts of information architecture ¢ Organizing content Information Architecture: Topics and Issues ¢ Key concepts of information architecture ¢ Organizing content (e. g. , labeling, hierarchies) ¢ Search systems ¢ Technologies, tools and techniques ¢ Business issues Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Examples of IA i. School Examples of IA i. School

Examples of IA i. School Examples of IA i. School

Examples of IA i. School Examples of IA i. School

Examples of IA i. School Examples of IA i. School

IA just for the Web? ¢ The Web is a great vehicle for illustrating IA just for the Web? ¢ The Web is a great vehicle for illustrating IA principles ¢ The Web is evolving: l l l ¢ Web 1. 0: Web as a hypertext system Web 2. 0: Web as a software interface Web 3. 0: ? ? Think of it simply as a platform: Course overview l The archtecture analogy l IA topics and issues l Course administration l l Plain-old websites Large corporate intranets Mail client Productivity applications … i. School

Why IA is vaguely defined ¢ IA is multi-disciplinary ¢ IA is as much Why IA is vaguely defined ¢ IA is multi-disciplinary ¢ IA is as much an art as it is a science ¢ IA is “messy” ¢ IA lacks an underpinning theory Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Overlapping Disciplines ¢ Library and information science ¢ Computer Science l l Human-Computer Interaction Overlapping Disciplines ¢ Library and information science ¢ Computer Science l l Human-Computer Interaction Information Retrieval Databases Software Engineering ¢ Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration Graphics design ¢ Cognitive psychology ¢ “User experience engineering” ¢ … i. School

What is Clear? ¢ The Objective (good web sites) ¢ The Focus (delivering information What is Clear? ¢ The Objective (good web sites) ¢ The Focus (delivering information content) ¢ The Methods Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Course Administration and Logistics ¢ General expectations ¢ Requirements ¢ Grading ¢ Other Course Course Administration and Logistics ¢ General expectations ¢ Requirements ¢ Grading ¢ Other Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

What you can expect from me ¢ Practical focus l l l ¢ Desire What you can expect from me ¢ Practical focus l l l ¢ Desire that everyone should succeed l l Course overview The archtecture analogy If it’s not useful, we won’t worry about it too much Emphasis on concepts Consideration for how it’s done in the “real world” l l Set clear and concrete objectives where possible Work together to learn/to achieve goals No “easy way out” Listen and respond to questions/objections, flexibility IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

What I expect from you ¢ Preparation l l l ¢ Participation l l What I expect from you ¢ Preparation l l l ¢ Participation l l l Course overview The archtecture analogy ¢ Do readings Turn in work on time “Fill in the blanks” Ask when things are unclear Give examples/tell stories Help with programmatics Honesty across the board IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

My Teaching Philosophy ¢ Emphasis on users l ¢ Emphasis on synthesis l ¢ My Teaching Philosophy ¢ Emphasis on users l ¢ Emphasis on synthesis l ¢ … mirroring real-life case studies Emphasis on group work Course overview The archtecture analogy … not rote learning Emphasis on projects l ¢ … but with a grounding in technology l … but individual competence must be demonstrated IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Major Course Components ¢ Lectures and discussion ¢ In-class exercises ¢ Team presentation ¢ Major Course Components ¢ Lectures and discussion ¢ In-class exercises ¢ Team presentation ¢ Design projects ¢ Final project ¢ Final exam Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Exam questions/notional example (1) ¢ All of the following are key elements of information Exam questions/notional example (1) ¢ All of the following are key elements of information architecture except: (a) Organizing information on web sites to meet user requirements (b) Writing client-side scripts to accept user input (c) Designing labeling systems that help users find what they need (d) Understanding search engine features and issues Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Exam questions/notional example (2) ¢ Match the concepts on the left with descriptions on Exam questions/notional example (2) ¢ Match the concepts on the left with descriptions on the right: Top-down analysis Organizing information according to concepts in a “tree” from the general to the specific Tagging Organizing information by starting with an expectation of what’s important or needed Taxonomy A network of terminology and/or concepts that captures associations and relationships among words, phrases, or ideas Thesaurus Assigning “meta-data” labels to information content to make it easier to organize, understand, or find Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Course Themes ¢ Design l ¢ Technology l l ¢ Principles of information architecture Course Themes ¢ Design l ¢ Technology l l ¢ Principles of information architecture Constraints on what is possible How to do it, building on what’s available Processes l Course overview l The archtecture analogy l Figuring out what to build Actually building it Figuring out if you’ve done it right IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Focus on Group Work ¢ Why? You rarely work alone in the real world Focus on Group Work ¢ Why? You rarely work alone in the real world ¢ Three is the best number ¢ Advice: l l Course overview Coordination takes more effort than you expect Plan first Take advantage of individual strengths Use collaborative technologies: don’t let distance be a hindrance or excuse The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues Course administration i. School

Course Logistics ¢ Second time this course has been offered (my first) ¢ Check Course Logistics ¢ Second time this course has been offered (my first) ¢ Check the course homepage often ¢ Lecture slides will be on-line Tuesday morning (at the latest) ¢ Typical class structure l Course overview l The archtecture analogy l IA topics and issues Course administration l ¢ 1. 5 hour session Short break Logistics/administration One hour session Email me: I’m available by appointment i. School

Technology: Assumptions ¢ I assume you already know l l Basic HTML/CSS and tools Technology: Assumptions ¢ I assume you already know l l Basic HTML/CSS and tools (e. g. , Dreamweaver, Flash) How to put up a Web site (FTP, etc. ) Database fundamentals Basics of client-side (e. g. , HTML and Javascript) and server-side (e. g. , PHP) technologies, possibly Java ¢ Course overview The archtecture analogy IA topics and issues You’ll pick up new technology skills ¢ For the projects, you will build something l Wireframes are sufficient as deliverables Figure out if it works Figure out what’s needed Course administration Build it Design it i. School

Extra Exercise (for next time) ¢ Goal: to develop an intuition for good vs. Extra Exercise (for next time) ¢ Goal: to develop an intuition for good vs. bad IA ¢ Compare: l ¢ Amazon vs. Barnes and Noble Evaluate: l l l How easy was it to find/get what you wanted? What are some major architectural features/differences of each site? Any strengths/weaknesses? i. School

Wrap-up ¢ ¢ How will we work together? ¢ What are the requirements and Wrap-up ¢ ¢ How will we work together? ¢ What are the requirements and expectations? ¢ The archtecture analogy What kinds of things will we learn in the class? ¢ Course overview What is information architecture? What should we do for next week? ¢ Any other questions? IA topics and issues Course administration i. School