Week 13: Readings and Comments
by Zach Tomaszewski
for LIS 699-2, Fall 2001, supervised by Dr. Luz Quiroga
Here is a bit of brainstorming on a syllabus. One way to structure a class would be based on the disciplines that are supposed to part of IA. So there may be the following sections:
- introduction: what is IA?
- organizing, labeling and browsing (LIS)
- searching and technical implementation (ICS)
- interface design and navigation (usability & HCI)
- professional image, aesthetics and page layout (graphic art)
- planning, needs assessment, and gathering content (system analysis, business, journalism)
- group development and organizational politics (management)
(Admittedly, I still see only the first part as core IA. The rest describes an well-rounded and effective web development team, but not necessarily IA in the strict sense.)
Another possibility is structuring a class around an web site development schedule. (This would certainly be conducive to a large, term-long project.)
- needs assessment
- gathering content/chunking and brainstorming
- organizing into schemes and structures
- selling the design back to the organization & production
- usability testing and maintenance
It must be a problem with every class that many areas overlap. Here, usability depends on navigation which depends on the organization which depends on content. But the reasons the doing things flow in the other direction, towards providing a usable, well-designed site.
Assignments are the trickier part. How do you test whether a student has most effectively organized content? Look for a scheme and structure of course, but which one? In the real world, it should be the one your users find easiest to use. One idea may be that students play some role in grading each other's assignments. For example, one assignment may be that students get a pile of index cards with certain content listed. They have come to up with the best organizational structure for this content. Different student structures could be compared. (If students have basic HTML skills, this exercise could be done with webpages, and the student would only have to derive the organization of links.)
Another idea is that students could have a project to work on through the whole term. I'm not sure where the content would come from though. Perhaps from the class itself--a site of students' cities of origin or hobbies or pets. This would make "selling back the design" and testing much more interesting. Or students could borrow the content pages of some small site or subsite and devise their own structure. There could be one site for the whole class, for each group, or for each student.
These are just a few ideas to get the brainstorming moving. Hope they help.
- Determined, based on a few quotes from IAs in the ASIS Bulletins, that IA is providing an organized structure for users. This reminded us that IA needs to employ some organizing principle for the information. This results in some sort of navigable structure. The purpose of this structure is to aid human users, and so must be both usable and aesthetically pleasing.
- Based on this definition and a bit of brainstorming, we imagined IA to be something like this:
- Content is gathered from the publishing organization and filtered according to both the organization's WWW goals and the users' needs.
- This content is then chunked and organized according to some scheme(s) or principle(s).
- This leads to a site structure that relates the different parts the organization scheme to each other.
- This organized structure is then communicated through an interface through navigation options and labels.
- Also important is alternative pathways (searching) and aesthetic appeal.
- Throughout the process, users' goals must be kept in mind. There should be some test at the end of the project to determine if the design goals have been met.
- If this is IA, then a course would do well to follow this same structure:
An IA class under LIS would likely pay more attention to organizing and structures than to aesthetic interface design or technical implementation.
- needs assessment (system analysis, business, marketing)
- gathering content/chunking/organizing into schemes and structures (management, LIS)
- labeling and navigation (LIS, HCI)
- interface design (HCI, usability, graphic arts)
- implementation (ICS)
- searching (ICS)
- usability testing and maintenance (usability)
To Week 14 →