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Information architecture: Beyond the hierarchy

5d79f73bf83f3675bbc6dbbcb3b1ba81?s=47 Donna Spencer
September 09, 2007

Information architecture: Beyond the hierarchy

For thousands of years humans have been organizing information in hierarchies - we start doing it early in life and continue through our careers. So it's not surprising that it is our dominant method for organizing content for websites and intranets.

But there are alternatives, and they can be much more effective. In this presentation we'll discuss when hierarchies are most useful and when an alternative approach is better. We'll look at deliberate approaches such as metadata-driven databases and faceted classifications; and emergent approaches such as organic structures and tagging. We'll examine good examples of each and learn what to consider for our own projects.

5d79f73bf83f3675bbc6dbbcb3b1ba81?s=128

Donna Spencer

September 09, 2007
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Transcript

  1. Information architecture: Beyond the hierarchy Donna Maurer – Maadmob Interaction

    Design
  2. IA: Theory & Practice Abot me • Freelance information architect/interaction

    designer  8 yrs  Website, intranet, business applications  Design, strategy, mentoring • Chair for this year's IA Summit • Board member – Information Architecture Institute • Committee member – Web Industry Professionals’ Association • Writing a book about card sorting - due late 2007 (no, probably early 2008)
  3. IA: Theory & Practice IA structures • IA is all

    about structure:  The overall shape of a set of information  Relationship between content chunks  Organising stuff  Making it findable and discoverable • We’ll look at:  Hierarchy  Database  Hypertext  Faceted  Tagging  A structural pattern for government sites
  4. IA: Theory & Practice Hierarchies • Relationship: broader and narrower

    • Strict hierarchies & polyhierarchies • Broad & deep
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  6. IA: Theory & Practice

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  8. IA: Theory & Practice Hypertext structure • No planned structure

    • Linked together in context • Good for emerging content domains
  9. IA: Theory & Practice Database structure • Content stored in

    a database  May be pages or content chunks • Metadata is assigned to fields • Metadata is used to assemble content into pages • Store content once, display it in many ways • Suitable for content with a repeated structure – products, articles, weblog posts
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  13. IA: Theory & Practice Faceted • Wine.com1 • Wine.com2 •

    Epicurious1 • Epicurious2 • NCSU
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  15. IA: Theory & Practice Faceted browse • Faceted classification uses

    a database structure • Facets are metadata elements • Using facets in browse:  Start at whatever facet you like  No keyword necessary  Never get a null result  Suits - where users may wish to explore from any starting point • Using facets in search:  Start with a keyword search  Refine based on characteristics present in the results  Suits - where search returns many results and users want to refine
  16. IA: Theory & Practice A Government pattern structure

  17. IA: Theory & Practice Questions & thanks • http://maadmob.net/ •

    0409-778-693 • donna@maadmob.net • In-house workshops  Information architecture  Writing for the web  Interface design  User-centred design