Presentation on theme: "IA as theory and practice"— Presentation transcript:
1 IA as theory and practice I. Can IA be based on theory?• Inductive thinking• Information interactionII. Practice: doing the job• Incorporating theory into practice• Doing the research• Preparing to create an IAIII. Designing and building• Working in the IA world
3 I. Can IA be based on theory? An example of deductive research:Select theoryDerive a hypothesisGather dataAnalyze dataDetermine extent to which data analysis supports hypothesisReject or fail to reject hypothesisHow well does this describe the work of IAs?
4 I. Can IA be based on theory? An example of inductive research:Gather dataAnalyze and reanalyze the dataOrganize the data within broad topicsCreate categories within the topicsIdentify relationships among the categoriesSynthesize the patterns into conclusionsHow well does this describe the work of IAs?
5 I. Can IA be based on theory? Haverty argues that IA must be inductiveIt does not have an existing body of theory which typically guides the work of a fieldTheory constrains acceptable solutions through formal validationWithout it, IAs tend to treat each problem as novelAlso, it supports emergent phenomenaThe IA domain has a small set of initial components and a relatively simple set of rulesThese lead to a large number of complex patternsHaverty, M. (2002). Information architecture without internal theory: An inductive design process. Journal of the ASIST, 53(10),
6 I. Can IA be based on theory? IA components include content, structure, navigation, interactionOn any given site, there are many interactions that can emerge when people use it, influenced by the IA of the siteIAs use combinations of these components to define the framework that constrains user interactionsProblem: we don’t understand well how to study and design for emerging user experiencesWe don’t know how each contributes to the user experienceThis is why we need inductive analysis
7 I. Can IA be based on theory? IA as constructive inductionThis is a process for generating a design solution using two intertwined searchesFirst: identify the most adequate representational framework for the problemSecond: locate the best design solution within the framework and translating it to the problem at handCI is useful when existing theory cannot adequately explain the object of study
8 I. Can IA be based on theory? Steps of CI1. What are the basic design problems for the system?Determine goals, vision, business and other requirementsDecompose the problemEach requires a design solutionHaverty 2002, 841.
9 I. Can IA be based on theory? Steps of CI2. Find a framework for each design problemIdentify a solution within the frameworkMay involve looking at work in other fieldsEach requires a design solutionHaverty 2002, 841.
10 I. Can IA be based on theory? Steps of CI3. Translate solution into a context of the current design problemThis is a creative stepInvolves understanding the original concept and knowing how to repurpose itHaverty 2002, 841.
11 I. Can IA be based on theory? Steps of CI4. Integrate solutions into an overall IAValidate the solutions against the original high level goals and objectives of the siteMay involve member checking and usability workHaverty 2002, 841.
12 I. Can IA be based on theory? If IA develops theoryDetermine design problemsUse theory to create design solutionsIntegrate and design solutions
13 I. Can IA be based on theory? Information interaction as a basis for IAToms argues that the initial focus should be how people interact in information-rich environmentsInteraction: situated action with an IS involving querying, browsingPrimarily use of GUI with some command line workWe “immerse ourselves” in infoThis is affected by IA: enabling access to content by providing a systematic and primarily a visual approach to the organization of contentToms, E.G. (2002). Information interaction: Providing a framework for information architecture. Journal of the ASIST, 53(10),
14 I. Can IA be based on theory? How information interaction occursWe can come to a system with an “information task”Problem-solving: we go through a patterned process and end with a relevance judgmentWe can also have chance encounters, encounters with information, scanning activitiesThese are less patterned but still end with some type of judgmentThen we browse, navigate, search, evaluate…Information interaction is the basis of the person’s use experience
16 I. Can IA be based on theory? Try to determine the client’s understanding of the audienceWho do they think their users are?What type of experience do they want people to have when using the site? What do they want them to do?Where do they want them to spend the most time?Do the researchLearn about the client’s businessWhat is their value proposition?What are the main ways they generate revenue?
17 IA as theory and practice I. Can IA be based on theory?• Inductive thinking• Information interactionII. Practice: doing the job• Incorporating theory into practice• Doing the research• Preparing to create an IAIII. Designing and building• Working in the IA world
18 II. Practice: doing the job Incorporating theory into practiceWithrow: cognitive psychology has much to offer IAThe difficulty is figuring what to use from research and how to use itExample: mental categoriesA grouping mechanism, a way to bring together items or concepts through some unifying characteristics or attributesHow can these be used?Withrow, J. (2003). Cognitive psychology & IA: From theory to practice. BoxesandArrows.
19 II. Practice: doing the job These categories can be formed in many waysVisual similarity, shared purposes or uses, rules of inclusion and exclusion, organizational cultureThere are also differences affected by cultural differences, socialization, and cohort effectsA web site should reflect inclusive mental categorization schemesThese can be uncovered with open ended card sortingAn IA can then be developed based on the users’ arrangement of content categoriesMetadata as well
20 II. Practice: doing the job Visual perception is also importantVisual cues are often the basis for mental associations users make among items on the interfaceWithrow, J. (2003).
21 II. Practice: doing the job Proximity and similarity matter
22 II. Practice: doing the job Implication:Navigation bar designNavigation items that are across the page and appear dissimilar are unlikely to be perceptually associatedDisplay of local navigation barsItems should be proximal and similar so they are perceived as being togetherThey should also be associated with the appropriate section in the global navigation bar and not be perceived as global navigation
23 II. Practice: doing the job An IA challenge is to design a structure that works for more than one target user groupResearch shows that often there is no single user groupTry to identify distinct segments within the target user population, each with characteristic goals and valuesThen design a project that can support all segments with a single structureAn alternative is to build a different site for each segment but this not an efficient way to workIt avoids design challenges that can lead to creative solutions
24 II. Practice: doing the job Schleicher and Kush, J. (2001). Retail ecologies, e-commerce, and information architecture
25 II. Practice: doing the job Maintenance: buying less meaningful objects not necessarily tied to social relationships (stamps)Provisional: selecting objects relatively low in meaning with social relationships more involved in the purchase (school supplies)Consumption: buying objects with high meaning which will provide value far beyond their basic utility with social relationships less involved (music)Pilgrimage: focus is on the objects and on the social relationships involved in the shopping experience (wedding rings)
26 II. Practice: doing the job Generic IA featuresFlexible search termsClear labelingDescriptive contentContextual links to related productsIA for maintenanceShallow browsingNavigation shortcutsSaving product selections
27 II. Practice: doing the job IA for provisionalSaving product selectionsEnriched search resultsIA for consumptionEvocative labelsPersonalizationIA for pilgrimageInteraction with others
28 II. Practice: doing the job Doing the researchTheoretical reasonsResearch on organizations can help developers avoid problems that can undermine projectsPractical reasonsA necessary step in the project life cycleSaves time, money, and effortAllows you to figure out what you have to doTo get a sense of the existing situationUnderstand the constraints and who can impose them
29 II. Practice: doing the job How to do the researchThere are different ways to set up the problemAsk an open-ended questionSet up a relationship and test itThere are a variety of ways to study an organizationYou can talk to people interviewsYou can ask people to fill out forms surveysYou can watch people observationYou can test people experimentationThere are variations within these approaches as well
30 II. Practice: doing the job There is a difference between academic and IA researchThere is less need for rigorYou don’t have to worry about generalizabilityPeer review is not an issueThere are good reasons to use good research practicesIf your methods are reliable, you can reuse themHigh quality data leads to strong conclusionsConsistency within and across projectsOver time this can lead to best practicesYou can then train new employees more easily
31 II. Practice: doing the job Settle on strategy or strategiesIndividual or telephone interviews? Individual face-to-face interviews?Group meetings? Group or conference calls?Each has its advantages and drawbacksFace-to-face interviews and group meetings are good ways to gather informationIn addition to the research value, these strategies also serve a social functionYou learn about stakeholder biases and political and power relationships
32 II. Practice: doing the job IAs want to understand what people want when they use the webUser centered research is a good way to get at thisPeople’s activities tend to be goal directed - theyUse information for problem solvingWant useful information that matters to themWant it to help them resolve problems/needsWant it to help them with their work or lifeWant cues throughout the siteWant reasonable and intuitive navigation
33 II. Practice: doing the job Consider this question:“What should our team create to give people experiences that are useful, usable, and desirable, that create value for our business and our clients?”How can we answer it?Rettig emphasizes the importance of an ethnographic approach“Go where people work, learn, live and play. Discover unexpressed or masked needs. Let your design be driven by genuine understanding of the people you are trying to serve.”Rettig, M. (2000). Ethnography and information architecture.
34 II. Practice: doing the job Gather the data and begin analysisThis involves sorting and categorizingGoals, activities/tasks, main content areasPrepare a preliminary listing and use “member checking”Be prepared for conflict, disagreement, and compromiseThere should be a deliverable (a design document)It summarizes the key points of the site and acts as an initial blueprintThe major stakeholders should all sign off
35 II. Practice: doing the job Learn about the audience by defining the user experienceThis establishes a clear definition of the audienceIt helps in understanding how users will react to the siteThis involves another round of conversations and/or meetingsGet them to rank the range of potential audiencesAsk them to describe the needs and goals of the most important audience membersUse these results to create user scenariosThese are stories about how people will use the site
36 II. Practice: doing the job In practical terms, this means:Observation: go into the setting and watch peopleShadowing: follow them aroundExamining artifacts and their usesInterviews: interview people in their workplaceThis can be structured or unstructuredSampling: can involve time or task samplingThey fill out activity diaries on your scheduleSelf-reporting: they have the greatest amount of controlAsk them to take pictures or keep journals
37 II. Practice: doing the job Navigation models depend on people’s goals and needsPerfect knowledgeOptimal rationality: follow the highest probability pathBased on “information scent” or imputed meaning of content/labelsSatisficing: following what looks like the best path and stop when the content is a close enough matchMental map: model of site structureRote memorizationInformation foraging: consuming local resources and moving on
38 II. Practice: doing the job Learn about the competitionFind out who the main competitors are and analyze their sitesCriteria #1 #2 #3 #4DesignNavigationLook and FeelSearchPersonalizationScriptingCurrency
39 IA as theory and practice I. Theory: What is IA based on?• Inductive thinking• Information interactionII. Practice: doing the job• The information ecology of IA• Doing the research• Preparing to create an IAIII. Designing and building• Working in the IA world
40 III. Designing and building Working in the IA worldThe IAs must be matched to its organizational contextIt provides an image of the client’s mission, vision, strategy, values, and cultureThe site is a “major component of the evolving conversation between” the business (or organization) and its customers (or clients)It influences the ways in which the audience thinks of the organization’s products and servicesThis is why alignment is so important for IAsRosenfeld and Morville, Ch2
41 III. Designing and building Working with content: documents, applications, services, schema, metadata on the siteOwnership: what are its origins? Who creates and controls content?Format: what are the different types of formats used?Structure: the document? database entry? structural markup?Metadata: what is being used? What should be used? How is it managed (controlled or user-generated)?Volume: how much?Dynamism: what is the rate of change?
42 III. Designing and building Rapid IA prototypingA structured method moving from exploration to design to testingBased on user and business requirementsUsers: how they tacitly group, sort and label tasks and contentBusiness: understanding and incorporating goals and concernsImportance of stakeholder analysisSinha, R. and Boutelle, J. (2004). Rapid information architecture prototyping. Proceedings of the 5th conference on Designing Interactive systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques. 349 – 352.
43 III. Designing and building Rapid prototyping is useful for the design of top-down IAExploring the content domainUnderstanding user conceptual structures and stakeholder perspectivesGenerating several candidate designsDoing quick comparative testing to choose among themMethodsFree listing: all the words associated with a categoryShows shared concepts and boundaries of domainsGenerates a list of tasks that can be done on the site
44 III. Designing and building MethodsTypes of tasksCore tasks: the core functionality of the siteBoundary tasks: the most demanding, unusual, or sophisticated functionality on the siteHorizon tasks: could be done on future versions of the siteDistribution: 50-80% core tasks, 10-25% horizon tasks and 10-25% boundary tasksThese describe the boundaries of the information domain
45 III. Designing and building MethodsCard sorting: users arrange content into categories and hierarchiesCluster analysis groups the open sorts into hierarchiesClosed sorts allow quick testing of the hierarchies to see if tasks belong in specific categoriesStakeholder analysisTechniques for understanding the range of perspectives and goals within a business environment
46 III. Designing and building Card sortThis is a low-tech approach to develop a taxonomyIt demonstrates how people group itemsAllows you to develop structures that maximize the chances of users being able to find what they want and:Is easy and cheap to conductIdentifies items that can be difficult to categorize and findIdentifies terminology that is likely to be misunderstoodInfodesign. (2002). What is Card Sorting?
47 III. Designing and building You have to have predefined the major categoriesLabel each card with a description of potential contentHave respondents create and name piles of cards that share similar relationshipsThen cluster the groupingsPay attention to items that do not have a consensusWould re-naming the item improve the situation, or does it need to be included in more than one category?The results indicate how users organize the contentUse the findings to the develop the site architecture
48 III. Designing and building Preparing the card sortEnsure that each term is clear and unambiguousInclude all the items you need to categorizeShuffle or randomize cards prior to each sessionUse the same instructions so all participants have the same understanding of the processLeave participants alone while they are sorting the cards, but make sure they can easily ask you questionsProvide additional blank cards for people to write group names and rubber bands to gather groups of cards together