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How I draft an information architecture

Donna Spencer has written a simple yet comforting piece on how she thinks through the draft IA for a small website.

"When you have made something up – and I don’t care whether you do it on a whiteboard, in a spreadsheet or in your head – then start thinking about whether it will work for the users, and whether it will work for the content. Revise and play with your idea until these things start to fall together."

Social networking on intranets

Jakob Nielsen's latest Alertbox

"Social software is not a trend that can be ignored. It's affecting fundamental change in how people expect to communicate, both with each other and the companies they do business with. And companies can't just draw a line in the sand and say it's okay for employees to use Web 2.0 to communicate with customers, but it's not okay to use it when communicating with each other."

Top 29 Free UX Tools and Extensions

Nice collection of accessibility and web development tools.

"Ever wonder how usable your site appears to someone with a disability, slower connection, or different setup? This list of tools highlights some of the most useful tools and extensions for making your website more usable."

Introduction to Metadata (online book)

Introduction to metadata

Tony Gill, Anne J. Gilliland, Maureen Whalen, and Mary S. Woodley

Edited by Murtha Baca

An online publication devoted to metadata, its types and uses, and how it can improve access to digital resources.

I was about to purchase this book when I stumbled upon this online version (free of course).

Here is the TOC

Great quote by Kobe Bryant

"I love winning. I love the fans, but the bottom line is that I still love the game"

2009, July 26, Quotes of the week. The Straits Times, p.30.

This quote has all the 3 parts that I always assign to a job:

Collaboration, Groove and SharePoint – History Repeating Itself?

Nice post by Seth Earley on the how Groove ended up with Sharepoint and what are we can expect now. Here's a quote worth repeating:

"Don’t make this mistake. Collaboration should not be all chaos and without governance. It can be freewheeling and encourage creativity, but that does not mean there are no rules. If you let things go, it will be very difficult to bring under control."

NPR’s Scott Simon: How to Tell a Story

Design in the new economy

A inspiring story of how Kicker studio, which started during the recession, is trying to survive the recession. In spite of having a stellar team, they are finding it difficult to get clients. Great story for those who take clients and projects for granted.

Stories that inspire action

Interesting article in the latest Interactions magazine on storytelling in organizations. Gary Hirsch and Brad Robertson describe a framework called the "story plotter" which they use to classify stories into 4 categories along 2 dimensions: positive and negative; current and what could be.

The 4 categories are:

Interesting classification. Definitely not exhaustive, but like the authors argue, actionable.

25 Awesome Virtual Learning Experiences Online

Ace Online Schools has posted a collection of virtual tours. Cool stuff.

Internet banner ads ignored

A poll (PDF) by The Harris Poll shows that internet banner ads are ignored while internet search engine ads are not that bad. However, both these types of internet ads fall short of TV ads which are still preferred.

Over one-third of Americans (37%) say that television ads are most helpful in making their purchase decision while 17% say newspaper ads are most helpful and 14% say the same about Internet search engine ads. Radio ads (3%) and Internet banner ads (1%) are not considered helpful by many people. Over one-quarter of Americans (28%), however, say that none of these types of advertisements are helpful to them in the purchase decision making process.

Via Harvard Daily Stat

State of Enterprise Content Management

Interesting presentation on the state of ECM by AIIM. Check out the stats on Sharepoint.

Content Templates to the Rescue

A very nicely written article on using content templates to elicit content from one or many subject matter experts. These templates are used depend on the publishing model used for site development.

"One tool I’ve found extremely helpful whenever more than a handful of people will touch the content on a new site is the content template. A content template is a simple document that serves two purposes: it’s a paragraph-level companion to your website’s wireframes (or other IA blueprints), and it’s a simple, effective means of getting useful information from your experts to your writers. (It is not the same thing as an HTML template you feed to your content management system.)"

Review: What every intranet team should know

The idea of having a team to manage and sustain the intranet still raises eyebrows. It was not that long ago that the intranet had the same position in the organisation as the e-mail exchange server -- a tool from the IT department that needs little intervention. Hopefully all this is changing. But this change also means that the organisation has to deal with skills gaps. They either have to groom internal talent or source talent from the industry. Both are frustrating affairs when you don’t know what you’re dealing with. This is where James Robertson’s book, What every intranet team should know, shines.

I was consulting for an intranet redesign when James announced his book. I ordered multiple copies immediately. I gave one copy to the client’s project team and I’m happy to say that the conversations are at a higher level these days -- more focused on action rather than on conceptual understanding.

Many of the ideas that James presents in his book are ideas that he’s already touched upon in his resourceful blog, ColumnTwo. However, having all these ideas arranged for a quick read, and in fine print I must add, is quite priceless. It just works better.

So if you want to have more focused conversations with your clients or stakeholders around intranet management, just grab a copy of this book and give it to them.

Calendering: Are we there yet?

Michael Sampson has written an interesting article on state of calendering applications out there.

“There” is the nirvana of calendaring, whereby you can set up a meeting with anyone, viewing their free-busy time within the context of your standard calendaring client. It’s seamless—it works across Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, Google Calendar, Meeting Maker, Apple iCal, and other systems. It’s automatic—the free-busy information shows anytime you enter their name, adding them to an upcoming meeting. Basically, it just works... That’s not the case today, even for products from the big vendors...

Laddering: A Research Interview Technique for Uncovering Core Values

Got this link from ColumnTwo on yet another research technique called laddering.

"Asking Why? during research interviews seems rather obvious and straightforward. I have always tried to make it a point to structure my research interview scripts to ask Why? when following up on questions I’ve asked participants. However, the Means End Chain theory and the laddering method provide a focus and a direction for the Why? questions. While the actual implementation of the laddering technique may be difficult and cumbersome, I found a general awareness of the goals for asking Why? to be helpful. My hope is that using the essential concepts of the laddering technique will help me uncover people’s root consequences and values, providing insights that I can leverage in my design projects."

Collaboration and community

A good introduction to collaboration by Scott London. Wonderful read for anyone who wants to get a quick understanding into this popular topic.

"Despite the shortage of formal research on collaboration, however, there is a growing body of literature on the subject. This paper reviews some of the principal sources in order to better understand: What is collaboration? How does it differ from other models of cooperation? What are the prerequisites and dynamics of effective collaboration? What makes an effective collaborative leader? What are some of the obstacles to successful collaboration? And how do we create more collaborative communities? The paper includes an annotated survey of some of the key works on the subject."

Related article: Collaboration in Action: A Survey of Community Collaboratives

Debunking Social Media Myths

Insightful post by David Armano on sustaining a social media effort in the enterprise:

Seeding. As you plan your approach for designing your social system, take into account that you'll have to invest to grow your effort into a healthy ecosystem that can produce data, insights or even new ideas. People will be required in order to do this.

Feeding. Whether it's a community, Wiki or internal collaboration solution you've put in place, it will have to be fed with a steady stream of content. Some of this can be automated and some of it can come from your participants--but there has to be some editorial judgment made for every piece of content and functionality. People are required for that.

Weeding. A productive social business design will require efforts to prune and weed out material that can inhibit its growth (just like a garden). In some cases, automated moderation services can do this--but in others people will be required to ensure that interactions are productive. Weeding can also include creating a separate environment--for example, Nokia's "blog hub" encourages employees to vent freely internally (using anonymous aliases).You can bet that someone is looking at the data and analyzing it. If not, they should be.

Inspiring video on leadership

Intranet offers bright future for internal communicators

Gerry McGovern on new skills for internal communicators:

"Intranet internal communications is radically different from print internal communications. The intranet internal communicator facilitates rather than dictates. They help people find. They guide rather than lead. They support the completion of a task such as checking up a procedure or a job vacancy. They focus on creating clear menus and links... This is a call to arms. You young ambitious communicators, get involved in making search work better, focus relentlessly on the quality of menus and links, simplify the steps and words used in software applications, make policies easier to understand and forms easier to complete. There is so much to do, so many areas where you can make your organization more productive, efficient and effective."

Content strategy- content is king

The field of Content Strategy (CS) is galloping forward. Here is a presentation by Karen McGrane where she provides a good framework (slide 80,81) to focus on content strategy.

Information is a task

Gerry McGovern takes information to task :-):

"The world we work and live in is becoming more information-based. What that means is that we complete more and more of the tasks of our lives as a result of accessing information. This information is active, driven, purposeful, and measured. How is it measured? By whether it has helped people complete the tasks that they have used this information to help them complete."

A market (design) research primer for designers

Brianna Sylver has written a nice overview of design research methods and then summarizes by showing when to use which method. The comments on this article debate the use of the term 'market research' over 'design research'. I won't fret over vocabulary. If you prefer the term 'design research', just use it in place of 'market research'. Confused already?

GOOD magazine infographic archives

Here is a Flickr archive of their infographics.

Problem with requirements documents

Just got a tender requirement spec that had around 200 pages for a 3 page web application. Yes, this video sums up the feeling.

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