Presentation on theme: "INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE AND NAVIGATION. Introduction to a spatial metaphor Many user interfaces are essentially tools for finding, collecting, consuming,"— Presentation transcript:
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE AND NAVIGATION
Introduction to a spatial metaphor Many user interfaces are essentially tools for finding, collecting, consuming, and producing information We can think of these untamed hordes of data as information spaces Information architecture is the art/science of designing information spaces
Expanding the spatial metaphor When architecting physical spaces, things are by default visible; you have to work to hide something When architecting information spaces, things are by default invisible You can see through a doorway… …but the only way to know what that link leads to is to click it.
Wayfinding in information spaces Just like a first-year trying to find a stairwell in the CIT, a computer user needs to learn how to navigate an interface How a user will do so depends on how much information they already have They may know exactly what they are looking for They may know a keyword associated with what they are looking for Or they may not know what they are looking for until they find it A successful user experience is in part based on how well an interface supports wayfinding, i.e. browsing and searching
Visualizing information spaces: A datum
Relationships between data
More data means more complexity
But soon, patterns emerge
You are an information architect Seeing patterns is what the human brain is optimized for Sometimes, it seems to be a little too optimized Apophenia: the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in meaningless or random data Logical fallacies such as mixing up correlation and causation If you have ever written an essay or made a deck of slides, you have architected information!
Organization schemes How do we organize information into categories? How order information within a category?
Exact organization schemes These schemes divide information into well-defined, mutually exclusive sections which typically have a standard order Standard ordering systems include: alphabetical, chronological, geographical, etc.
Exact example: OCRA
Exact example: flickr
Ambiguous organization schemes These schemes categorize information by common associations They are not inherent or natural They are, however, very useful Canonical examples include ordering by topics, tasks, audience, etc.
Ambiguous example: The Boston Globe
Ambiguous example: Delicious
Ambiguous example: Brown.edu
Ambiguous example: Hybrid navigation
Going from organization to architecture Now we have an idea of how we might categorize and order information. How can we build a system which enables users to access this information?
Implicit architectures These architectures consist of the relationships inferred by the user They are often unintentional They are often caused by juxtaposition
Explicit architectures These architectures are made apparent to the user Common example: navigation bar Note that “explicit” does not necessarily mean “clear” Unless preceded by “homework”, this word never belongs in a navigation bar
Random access architectures Examples: CDs, magazines, dictionaries
Non-random access architectures Linear (traditional narrative) Nonlinear (hypertext) House of Leaves
A note on organization and architecture Clearly, these two concepts are closely related Both are very important However, if you are building a system which includes massive amounts of information, even the most comprehensive organization scheme will fail if the system is not architected in such a way that users’ needs are supported Prioritize common use cases How many times have you searched for a book by title? By author? By subject? By ISBN?
From Point A to Point B Navigation is how users locate themselves and move around within the context of a system It can be free-form or goal-oriented It can be accomplished through browsing or queried search How easily a user can navigate will be determined largely by how well you organized and architected your information space
Modes of information seeking Sometimes, users just want to check out a system They may be forming an initial impression or testing its limits Or they may be killing time by consuming content indiscriminately But often, users have a goal or set of goals in mind These situations can be described as follows
Known-Item information seeking In this case, the user Knows what they want Knows what words to use to describe it May have a fairly good understanding of where to start Examples: A Brown student wants to know when reading period begins Someone is looking for the website of a local Chinese restaurant A traveler needs to know how to say “train station” in Japanese
A-Z indices and site maps
Exploratory information seeking In this case, the user May have some idea of what they want to know Does not know precisely what words to use to describe it May not know where to start Examples: A user who wants to plan a site-seeing trip to France, but who has never been there before and isn’t familiar with the area A first-year CS student who is looking for an internship or research opportunity for the summer, but who doesn’t know what jobs they are qualified for
“See also” links
Re-finding In this case, the user wishes to find information they have previously accessed This behavior can be supported with active features (which require user input) or passive features (which track information access automatically)
The Awesome Bar
For further investigation: Information Architecture Institute: Library The Information Architecture of Everyday Things Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them Search User Interfaces by Marti A. Hearst Search User Interfaces