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Deconstructing design: How did we get from there to here

Deconstructing design: How did we get from there to here

There is a creative step that occurs between research activities and a draft design. During this step we combine what we have learned during research with our professional experience to create a new design (such as an information architecture or a page layout). For newer designers, this step is a mystery - a magical process in which research goes in and a design emerges. In attempting to break it down to make the process more approachable, it sometimes appears that particular activities (for example a card sort) lead directly to design outputs (an information architecture). In practice, this is not the case - a wide range of activities provide input for each element of the design.In this presentation, I will show a number of completed site designs that I have been involved in during the past year. For each, I will 'deconstruct' each design - pull it apart to show how various inputs (such as research, activities, politics, guidelines, previous experiences) informed the design. The presentation will highlight that each design element is informed by more than one input; and that each input contributes to more than one part of the design. It will also show how important it is to undertake a range of research activities and not rely on just one or two inputs.

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Donna Spencer

March 05, 2005
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Transcript

  1. Deconstructing Design: How did we get from there to here

    Donna Maurer Step Two Designs (donna@steptwo.com.au)
  2. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au About Donna Maurer  ‘Usability Specialist’ for Step Two Designs  Information architecture • Information architecture work for 5 years • Author for Boxes and Arrows • Active member of AIA (leader for mentoring project) • Organising committee for IA Summit  Academic • Tutor human computer interaction • Studying Master of Human Factors - UQ
  3. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au About Step Two Designs  We provide vendor-neutral consulting,coaching and mentoring, in the areas of: • Identifying intranet needs & developing intranet strategies • Improving the structure and design of intranets • Selecting content management systems • Information architecture and usability  Our focus is on providing organisations with the knowledge and skills they need
  4. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au OT - A magic powerpoint trick
  5. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au OT – A magic powerpoint trick  The problem with powerpoint – we try to do 2 things • use it to illustrate our points when speaking • provide something for you to take away and follow up  These things are not compatible  My trick • Use images as the prop • Follow with a slide with notes • ‘Hide’ the slide with notes - you don’t see it, but it prints out  Image on previous screen from: • Edward Tufte – The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint • www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp
  6. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au What is this about
  7. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au What’s this all about  We know a lot about research & usability testing  IA Design is not card sort » IA  The design step is • much more mysterious • harder to describe • not likely to have the same result from different designers • hardest for newer designers • there is no right and wrong  Today we look at this step • by looking at completed projects and their inputs and seeing what happened in the design step
  8. Project 1

  9. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Previous intranet home page
  10. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au The project  Intranet redesign for the Department of Family and Community Services  Existing intranet • low use • poor usability • little value to many people • low visual appeal • poorly structured • 15,000 pages of informational content
  11. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Project activities  Staff research • Contextual interviews and focus groups • Accessibility research • Card sorting  Business • Identification of business goals  Content • Analysis of intranet logs and search logs • Content inventory & analysis  Design process • Creation of draft IA • Usability test of draft IA (x2) • Page layout design • Visual design • Develop prototype • Usability test of prototype (x2)
  12. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au About FaCS FaCS programs What’s on Research Administration Emergency T echnology Our people Bomb threat Fire Emergency contacts Bulding evacuation First aid Passwords System access Telephones System manuals Help for... Teleconferenc ing IT security Helpdesks IT assets Library services Statistics Legislation Research papers Internet links News Calendar of events Newsletters Job vacancies Getting to the FaCS Projects B usiness adm inistration S taff administration Certified agreement Learning & development Pay & conditions OHS Orientation Performance management Personal safety Recruitment Workplace diversity Business planning Project management Legal Purchasing Risk management Security Workplace harrasment Communicati ng Finance Property Travel Organisation chart Executive Committees & meetings Branches & STOs Communities & networks Minister Our values & ethics Our relationships Corporate documents How we work Our locations Corporate policies Our social activities A-Z of programs A-Z of payments Program administration Stronger communities Stronger families Economic & social participation Programs, strategies & services Intranet information architecture
  13. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au IA design  Major groups • All activities provided input (research, business goals, content analysis, current structure & usage, card sort) • About FaCS – people and business content • FaCS programs – the Department’s core business • What’s on – need to centralise news • Administration – ‘Admin’ said often during card sort • Some names changed during the process • Personal/employee administration » Staff administration • News & events » What’s happening » What’s on • Help » Emergency • Policies & Programs » FaCS Programs • Administration » Admin
  14. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au IA Design  Structure is around ‘sections’ or ‘collections’ • Intranet made up of relatively independent sections • All have similar granularity (but not similar size) • Most have attributes of basic-level categories • Previous experience with intranets indicates that the ‘section’ model works well • Each section has its own IA (mostly done by the intranet team)
  15. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Intranet home page
  16. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Intranet home page  Navigation • Data analysis – showed that some sections of the intranet were more popular • User research – staff wanted fast access to content • Competitive analysis – idea for boxes • Accessibility research – staff with motor impairments need larger targets • Usability test – the major groups were still not perfectly intuitive, so wanted a way to highlight what was included in them
  17. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Intranet home page  News • User research – staff want to know what is happening • Current content – use of ‘all-staff’ email & splash screens • Business goal – to use the intranet as a better communication tool • Previous experience – knew that this was good for the homepage and likely to work well  Quick links • Data analysis – some content more popular • User research – fast access to content • Good practice – alternate ways to key information
  18. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Intranet home page  Search • User research – staff want improved search • Good practice – search on all pages • Previous experience – knew that the location would work (if well-represented on screen)  Local links • User research – reduce the perception that it is only for the central office • User research – regional offices wanted something that belonged to them • Business goals – something more fun or useful to act as a drawcard
  19. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Intranet home page  Jobs • User research – staff read the emailed newsletter to look for jobs every week  Updates • Good practice – key updates and additions  Phone book search • A phone book search was included (previous experience) but was removed after usability testing – everyone said they wouldn’t use it
  20. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Section page
  21. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Section page  Global navigation • Good practice – include global navigation on all pages of large sites • Previous experience – horizontal navigation bar would be OK for this many categories • Usability test – forgot to include a ‘home’ link  Breadcrumb • Good practice – include a breadcrumb trail on large hierarchical sites • Usability test – used when there no ‘home’ link in the navigation
  22. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Section page  Section navigation • Previous experience / content analysis – needed to be flexible as amount of information would vary  Related links • Previous experience & content analysis  Visual design: ZOO Communications • www.zooz.com.au
  23. Project 2

  24. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Existing home page
  25. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au The project  Website redesign for an Australian Government Department  Not implemented due to Department reshuffle  Existing site • poor usability – anecdotal evidence only • had been recently redesigned as part of a CMS implementation • team wanted us to help with a content refresh – identifying out of date content
  26. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Project activities  Business • Identification of business goals  Research • Persona development based on staff knowledge  Content • Analysis of intranet logs and search logs • Analysis of ‘contact us’ questions  Design process • Create 3 alternate home pages
  27. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 1
  28. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 1  Minor changes • Only recently redesigned, so needed to keep much of the design • I preferred option 3, but knew that it might not be accepted as it was a bigger change. Showing it as a transition lessens the impact. • Time in process – no structural changes yet
  29. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 1  Top sections/publications • Search log analysis – there were a small number of high profile, known items that people wanted • Personas – some personas need fast access to key info  ‘Other Department’ (not the real label) • Contact us analysis – clients don’t know Departmental boundaries and came to this site for info that isn’t there • Search log analysis – high profile, known items  ‘Other sites’ (not shown) • Business goals – highlight other sites Department owns • Client feedback – don’t know which site to start on
  30. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 2
  31. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 2  Major changes  Navigation moved to left • Good practice – get content onto the page • No changes to structure – knew that clients wouldn’t understand headings any better, so showed key links  News in centre • Business goals – staff wanted to show events and projects • Personas – some clients needed to know just about recent updates  Accessibility • Design for W3C AAA rating
  32. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 3
  33. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Home page option 3  Minor visual design changes • Cleaner • Less boxy
  34. Insights

  35. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Key Insights  Inputs » outputs • There is no one-to-one relationship between any activity and output • All design decisions are informed by a range of inputs/activities • User needs are not the only input! • Internal politics is a hidden, but important, input • Better inputs help create better outputs • Usability testing confirms design, doesn’t create design
  36. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Insights (cont...)  Previous experience • I use a lot of ‘previous experience’, but I have to remember to listen to the research • I can create good designs based on my experience alone (within my experience domain) • My designs are much better when based on real inputs • I rarely use anyone else’s ‘research’  Deconstructing • I still can’t break down some design decisions (mostly IA) • I can tell you why I did something, but not why I didn’t do something
  37. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Insights (cont...)  Designing and creativity • I don’t design in this deconstructive manner, it all just happens in my head • Exposure to ordinary and different approaches helps the creative step • Don’t design on screen, design in your head • Leave plenty of ‘thinking time’ • I often create an initial design, leave it, then later attempt to create an entirely different design • There is no right answer
  38. Deconstructing Design, IA Summit • 6 March 2005 Step Two

    Designs Pty Ltd • www.steptwo.com.au Questions?  Donna Maurer donna@steptwo.com.au  Visit www.steptwo.com.au for content management, intranet, usability and information architecture whitepapers