Tag Archives: Information architecture

Using Search Keywords to Help Determine Site Architecture

Visit Eric Enge’s post How Keywords Help Determine Site Architecture to see how to use search engine keywords and their popularity to help organize information on a website. 

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Organizing Web Content à la Moreville & Rosenfeld

In “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” Moreville & Rosenfeld list the following organization schemes that are used to organize website content:

Exact Organization Schemes

  • Alphabetical
  • Chronological
  • Geographical

Organizing your information this way makes it fairly easy to decide which category your item or topic belongs in, but it does require that the users know the name of what they are looking for.

Ambiguous Organization Schemes

  • Topic
  • Task
  • Audience
  • Metaphor
  • Hybrids

Since items are grouped in meaningful ways, these ambiguous schemes can be more useful to the user that does not know exactly what they are looking for.

These organization schemes are applied to organization of information in websites.

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It is interesting to compare this list with another list I cited earlier in this blog that I applied to ordering items in a list.

From an IXDA post by Chauncey Wilson’s which cites Deborah Mayhew’s book “Principles and Guidelines in Software User Interface Design“.

Here’s a list of common ordering schemes:

  • Alphabetical
  • Task order
  • Frequency
  • Numerical (font size)
  • De facto standard
  • Legal order
  • Complexity (simple to hard)
  • Semantic similarity
  • First-in, first out

Prototyping for Parent Connection

Challenge

After launching their new website http://www.sandiegoparent.com the Parent Connection needed an easy way for new members to find them.  Before sandiegoparent.com, the Parent Connections only web presence was through Scripps.org.

I was asked to help create sketches that would be used to propose a better way for the Scripps website to link to the Parent Connections site.

Approach

The approach was threefold:.

  1. Interview stakeholders to clarify objective and tasks
  2. Create a prototype
  3. Make Recommendations

Results

Goals were agreed upon and stated clearly.  Parent Connection tasks were listed and categorized.  A quick drawing of changes to the existing page was created with Adobe Fireworks.

Scripps Portal Page

Scripps Portal Page

This screen shot could be marked up and used by the Parent Connection officers to communicate and visualize what they would like their page to look like on the Scripps site.

Recommendations were made regarding the use of a professional copywriter, specific content and links that could be added to the introduction.   Specific suggestions for the sandiegoparent.com site were also given.

Designing and Developing the NAV I/O Client

Challenge

Satellite communication test engineers need a NAV I/O (Navigational Input/Output system) to monitor large quantities of data, in real-time, from multiple sources such as; ship antennas, shore antennas, a ship simulation roll tower and communication terminals on both ship and shore.  The challenge is to present this information to the test engineers in a way it could be easily viewed and recorded.

Approach

Realtime Microsystems built a brand new system with the following aspects:

Paper Prototype

Paper Prototype

Modular Client/Server Design: Client/Server architecture that separates the data from the presentation and allows the GUI to be updated without changing any of the hardware or software on the server sub-system.

Interactive Graphic User Interface: The client sub-system runs on standard PC and Windows environment user interface.  The users are all currently familiar with this computing environment.  The NAV I/O users will be able to control the display and recording of the data through this window.

Operating Systems: The server used the Microsoft Windows CE Operating System which allows the software to be developed in languages C++ and Visual Basic rather than obscure real-time languages.

Software: A structured software engineering process was followed and clear documentation provided.  The software was developed using Microsoft  C++ and Visual Basic.

Hardware: The new NAV I/O would maximize the use of commercially off the shelf (COTS) components which would lower up front engineering cost and ensure replacement parts be available in a reasonable time frame at a reasonable price.

Ellen was responsible for all project phases of the client software such as requirements, test plan, design, test procedures and the user’s guide.    Paper prototypes were used early in the project lifecycle.

Results

The NAV I/O  software displays Antenna and Roll Tower Angles & Attitudes via analog display, digital display, recorded data.

NAV I/O Screen

NAV I/O Screen

Satellite engineers can control many display and recording intervals, modes & more.  Graphical display tools used: Gauges, Stripcharts (roll tower angle plotted over time).  Status Bar shows what’s on & off.

save screen

save screen