Information Architecture – Design and Documentation

When moving into the design phase, as much as I or a handful of people may share the same vision, even then, there can be some variations from the overall scheme. As from the previous class when I built my site, the general rule for navigation was no more than three clicks on your mouse to your destination. By using a similar map as above, one can clearly the overall structure and placement of information. For example, from the Main Page, we are no more away than two clicks on getting more information. By having this type of documentation, this make it clear to those who are involved in this stage of the process to be on the proverbial same page.

In addition to layout from the website another term I came across during the reading was wireframes. When I first gave a try at creating a website on my own, I did have a good sense of the layout. Through trail and error, I did stumble at better way to plan the layout which was nothing more than using a blank sheet of paper and a pencil. I drew boxes on the blank page and mapped my navigation tabs, content, calendar and other widgets. Going in the opposite direction, a high fidelity wireframe has more of a feel of the site yet to be made. I see this as a site being in test mode where you can see the results by seeing how the pages work or do not work together; as seen in the picture below.

The last part that I will be discussing about Chapter 12 is Controlled Vocabulary. Before I go into my rant, I want to state for the record, I do see the benefits of have a controlled vocabulary in certain situations. In my other library class is reference class and learning how to use and navigate a database does involve a higher degree of controlled vocabulary in order to find the right results. In an academic library setting, I would agree that have the right words yields the best results. However, there are two problems that I’ve found. First, coming from a patron’s pov trying to do their own research using a database with controlled vocabulary can be difficult and unmanageable. Yes, the librarian’s job is to assist the patron in this matter but as many libraries are facing reduced staffing, the database needs to be more user centric.

The second problem that I’ve found such as in my blog, I try to keep entries labelled in several ways. If I write something about the latest Star Trek movie, I would label that entry as: scifi, star trek,  movie review, tv series. When someone looks online for movie reviews of Star Trek, my blog would be in the results. The problem here lies with the unlimited number of tagging and categories I can create. While this option is more user centric, this can get lost in wash of internet searches and become just as un-findable as with the control vocabulary.

What was interesting to note is this statement:

A metadata matrix can help you to walk clients and colleagues through the difficult decision-making process, weighing the value of each vocabulary to the user experience against the costs of development and administration.

In the context of this entry, we can see how important control vocabulary plays into the design of the site just as the overall layout. While we may see how cost effective it may be to have a limited vocabulary, the user’s needs must to be taken into greater account.


~ by The Monster on April 16, 2010.

One Response to “Information Architecture – Design and Documentation”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Shoemate. Ben Shoemate said: Information Architecture – Design and Documentation « Page 49 […]


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