Training intranet editors - the intranet cafe?
J. Boye describes a method that he observed when discussing how intranet editors are trained—the intranet cafe.
An interesting alternative to the usual options was presented by a retailer that had successfully introduced a regular “intranet café”. Every other week on Wednesday afternoons the intranet manager and his team made themselves available in a training room to anybody interested, who could then show up without the need for any prior registration. Some would show up with specific questions, while other occasional intranet editors would show up simply to get intranet work done while knowing that a helping hand was nearby. These intranet cafés had become tremendously popular and really made an impact on training staff on using the intranet. Quite a nice bottom-up approach!
Mert Tol has created an exhaustive checklist of all design issues that one should consider before going live. There are points from visual design to architecture to content. Useful to have all these in one page.
3 types of page headings
This is a good article on how to write the 3 types of page headings:
- Question heading: A heading in the form of a question
- Statement heading: A heading that uses a noun and a verb
- Topic heading: A heading that is a word or short phrase
Here is another article on headings by Ginny Redish where she provides many more examples.
Quote on tunnel vision
“A tribesman was transported from a remote mountain wilderness (a society that had not yet discovered the wheel) to a large city. When he returned, he reported that the most significant thing he saw was somebody using a wheelbarrow to carry more bananas than he ever thought possible. He literally did not see the significance of automobiles and skyscrapers. He was not prepared to see them.”
By Arie de Gaus as stated by Peter Schwartz in Art of Long View, p.g. 33.
Good to keep this in mind when dealing with the adoption of new ideas or a new way of working.
Content strategy articles galore
Content strategy is really picking up steam. InfoDesign links to 2 articles on this emerging discipline.
I just finished reading Kristina Halvorson’s book, Content Strategy for the Web, which I think should be a must-read for designers. She makes a very good case for content strategy but does not build enough of a case to sell the discipline to the likes of busy managers and the IT department. The case for content lifecycle management will be a tough idea to get across to these folks. This nevertheless must be done. We designers should just be persistent about it.
The Rockley Group has published DITA 101, a guide for authors and managers to understand and use DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture). I’m reading it now and so far its been simple and easy to understand.
“DITA 101 is designed for authors and managers. We’ve taken our years’ of experience helping organizations to move to DITA and training our clients in creating DITA content and distilled it into an easy to read and understand format. Combined with our expertise in developing effective reuse strategies and adopting content management, this book covers everything you need to know to understand DITA from an authors or managers viewpoint.”
Gov 2.0: It’s All About The Platform
Tim O’Reilly writes a short but direct piece on what Gov 2.0 should really focus on.
“A lot of people equate the term with government use of social media, either to solicit public participation or to get out its message in new ways. Some people think it means making government more transparent. Some people think it means adding AJAX to government websites, or replacing those websites with government APIs, or building new cloud platforms for shared government services…”
“... government agencies shouldn’t just provide web sites, they should provide web services. These services, in effect, become the government’s SDK (software development kit). The government may build some applications using these APIs, but there’s an opportunity for private citizens and innovative companies to build new, unexpected applications.”
Converge Magazine reports on some 3D learning modules used by the Kentucky Community & Technical College System.
“But through computers and projectors, 3-D technology allows users to see a person, place or thing as it would appear in real life. This opens the door to a virtual world of possibilities in the classroom, where students can learn about science anatomy, geography, architecture and astronomy by interacting with the content rather than reading about it in a textbook.”
How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0: McKinsey Global Survey Results
McKinsey Quarterly reports on survey done in June 09 to understand the impact of Web 2.0 inside companies.
You’ll have to register (free) to read the entire report. Here are some quotes.
“Regardless of industry, executives at companies that use more Web 2.0 technologies also report greater benefits. Comparing respondents’ industries, those at high-technology companies are most likely to report measurable benefits from Web 2.0 across the board, followed by those at companies offering business, legal, and professional services.”
“Web 2.0 delivers benefits by multiplying the opportunities for collaboration and by allowing knowledge to spread more effectively. These benefits can accrue through companies’ use of automatic information feeds such as RSS2 or microblogs, of which Twitter is the most popular manifestation. Although many companies use a mix of tools, the survey shows that among all respondents deriving benefits, the more heavily used technologies are blogs, wikis, and podcasts—the same tools that are popular among consumers.”
“Many companies experiment with Web 2.0 technologies, but creating an environment with a critical mass of committed users is more difficult. The survey results confirm that successful adoption requires that the use of these tools be integrated into the flow of users’ work.”
ASIS&T Bulletin current issue focuses on IA
The ASIS&T Bulletin current issue is on information architecture. There are a number of articles including one by Colleen Jones on The Debut of Usable, Influential Content and another by Christian Crumlish on The Information Architecture of Social Experience Design.
Card Sorting: Pushing Users Beyond Terminology Matches
A very useful article by Jakob Nielsen. His main point in this article is that we need to be wary of how we present usability activities like card sorting to users. If we are not careful, we may be priming them towards an option rather than allowing them to think through the different options. Jakob Nielsen explains his theory by way of an card-sorting exercise. Go ahead and read it.
Clive Thompson on the New Literacy
Clive Thompson discusses the new literacy in Wired Magazine. He uses a study by Andrea Lunsford of Standford University to base his claims that the Internet is providing a new ground for literacy development.
“Of course, good teaching is always going to be crucial, as is the mastering of formal academic prose. But it’s also becoming clear that online media are pushing literacy into cool directions. The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision. At the same time, the proliferation of new forms of online pop-cultural exegesis—from sprawling TV-show recaps to 15,000-word videogame walkthroughs—has given them a chance to write enormously long and complex pieces of prose, often while working collaboratively with others.”
Compare this post with the previous post where another Standford study finds that the fast-paced literacy confuses the decision-making process. We’re living in interesting times!
Multitasking Muddles the Mind?
A Stanford University study seems to suggest that multitasking reduces intellectual efficiency.
“Nass [the author] says the study has a disturbing implication in an age when more and more people are simultaneously working on a computer, listening to music, surfing the Web, texting, or talking on the phone: Access to more information tools is not necessarily making people more efficient in their intellectual chores.”
Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens
The NY Times reports on something we intuitively knew was the case: Teenagers don’t tweet.
“Twitter’s unparalleled explosion in popularity has been driven by a decidedly older group. That success has shattered a widely held belief that young people lead the way to popularizing innovations.”
Elliott Masie points to this article in the Armed Forces Journal by T.X. Hammes (retired Marine Corps). In this article, Hammes systematically describes how Power Point is a horrible tool for doing decision-making briefings.
“PowerPoint is not a neutral tool —it is actively hostile to thoughtful decision-making. It has fundamentally changed our culture by altering the expectations of who makes decisions, what decisions they make and how they make them… PowerPoint has clearly decreased the quality of the information provided to the decision-maker, but the damage doesn’t end there. It has also changed the culture of decision-making.”
Hammes’ argument is that Power Point runs against the grain when it comes to the decision-making process. It just does not allow for deep understanding and does not provide the big picture—big barriers to effective decision making.
Hammes however thinks that Power Point is good for information briefs and not decision briefs. But Hammes is not convincing in this position. He hardly spends a couple of paragraphs on the positive aspects of Power Point before going negative again!
20 tips for writing for the web
Eric Reiss shares web writing tips that he has gathered over the years. It sems that George Orwell’s rules are a must-have in any such list.
George Orwell, the English author of 1984, Animal Farm and other classics, has six rules of writing. Here they are – they’re all gems:
1) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.
2) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4) Never use the passive voice when you can use the active
5) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday equivalent.
6) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous!
MIT Sloan: Design Thinking Special ReportThis report was out in July. It has articles by prominent personalities from Donald Norman to Edward Tufte.
"Design thinking — distinct from analytical thinking — has emerged as the premier organizational path not only to breakthrough innovation but, surprisingly, to high-performance collaboration, as well. “It’s not about the pretty,” says one design-thinking practitioner, “it’s about the productive.” In this special section of articles, interviews, illustrated cases and research findings, the Review explores how to put design thinking to work."
Designing for Interaction: Design ResearchHere is a sample chapter from Dan Saffer's Designing for Interaction. In this chapter Dan offers a good commentary on Design Research -- what it is, why do it and how it can be done.
"Imagine a zoo where the zookeepers don't know anything about animals, and they don't bother to find out about the animals' natural habitat, dietary needs, or natural predators. The zookeepers keep the animals in metal cages, group the animals randomly together, and feed them whatever they have around. Now imagine the chaos that ensues and the unhappy (or worse: sick or dead) animals that would be the result. Not the type of place you'd want to take your kids to. Our fictional zoo is the state of a lot of the products and services today, albeit not so extreme. While most businesses do have strong interest in their customers and put considerable amount of money into their products and services, a lot of that money is poorly spent. If only a small bit of the typical time, money, and resources used to make and market a product or service were put towards design research—observing, talking to, and maybe even making artifacts with customers and users—the products and services we use would be greatly improved."[Via Infodesign]
Content Strategy for the Web: Why You Must Do a Content AuditThis is a sample chapter from Kristina Halvorson's upcoming book, Content Strategy. In this chapter Kristina discusses the value of doing an content audit.
"Do not—repeat, DO NOT—skip the content audit. This process is not just about listing URLs and page titles. It can provide an extraordinary amount of useful, enlightening information that’s surprisingly valuable, especially when you’re fighting for project support and funding."
Looking for old elearningpost entries? Now we have tags!
Finally I’ve succumbed to including tags in elearningpost.
In 2006 I had posted about my problems with categories. The main reason was that my posts were so varied that I found myself constantly creating categories. So I decided to remove them altogether.
A few years on, I’m finding myself constantly using search to find old entries. I’ve tried to use tags in elearningpost before but found it too cumbersome to tag old entries. (I’m using Expression Engine as my CMS).
But a few days ago I decided to give it a shot and used EE’s Tag module. After going through the pain of migrating my entire website to a newer version of mySQL I must announce that everything is working fine. I found an innovative way to tag old entries and is based on some unique features of EE and the Tag module. Expression Engine has this quirky feature that allows you to search for entries and assign categories to them. Next, the Tag module has this quirky feature that allows you to harvest tags based on the categories assigned to them. So I put these two together and managed to tag 25% of my entries, which is a lot already.
It’s wonderful to get to see old entries in e-learning, knowledge sharing, innovation, usability and so many more surface to the top. Here are some that caught my eye. Tags are available on the right column, so go ahead and explore.
- KM and Skimming
- Learning Spaces
- Poynter: Art of Explanation
- Communities of Practice and Complexity : Conversation and Culture
- Steven Pinker: How to Get Inside a Student’s Head
Who should be on your CMS shortlist?
J.Boye has published an article that lists “[CMS] vendors you should examine closer and potentially send your RFP to? Interestingly J.Boye is a vendor neutral consulting firm, so this list might turn out to be quite influential.
Three types of web content management projects
Jeff Cram has written about 3 types of content management system projects.
- The technical migration
- The visual design
- The strategic redesign
I think this captures a lot of projects I've done over the years. However, I'd like to add 'The politically motivated' to the list. These are projects that make you wonder why they are "on" in the first place.
Developing a Departmental Style Guide
Jean Hollis Weber wrote this article in 2007 but it's still relevant today given the recent focus on content strategy.
"This article provides information that will help you in planning and developing a style guide. You’ll find information about the purposes of a style guide and guidelines for what should (and should not) be included, whether to develop one or more style guides, and how detailed the style guide should be. At the end of the article, you’ll find a sample style guide outline (in PDF format) that illustrates many of the details discussed in this article."
After the boom, is Wikipedia heading for bust?
An article from the New Scientist has Palo Alto Research Center in California warning that Wikipedia's growth is tailing off and extreme governance could be behind it.
"Chi thinks that Wikipedia now includes so much information that some editors have turned from creating new articles to improving existing ones, resulting in more disputes about edits. Such disputes are not a level playing field because established editors sometimes draw on extensive knowledge of Wikipedia's guidelines to overwhelm opposition in a practice dubbed 'wikilawyering."
Better Practice Checklists & Guides
I stumbled upon this site by the Australian Government's Department of Finance & Deregulation. They have a comprehensive collection of guides and checklists for managing their online properties. The collection covers IA to content strategy to intranets to KM. Cool!