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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

Book Description

Some web sites "work" and some don't. Good web site consultants know that you can't just jump in and start writing HTML, the same way you can't build a house by just pouring a foundation and putting up some walls. You need to know who will be using the site, and what they'll be using it for. You need some idea of what you'd like to draw their attention to during their visit. Overall, you need a strong, cohesive vision for the site that makes it both distinctive and usable. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is about applying the principles of architecture and library science to web site design. Each web site is like a public building, available for tourists and regulars alike to breeze through at their leisure. The job of the architect is to set up the framework for the site to make it comfortable and inviting for people to visit, relax in, and perhaps even return to someday. Most books on web development concentrate either on the aesthetics or the mechanics of the site. This book is about the framework that holds the two together. With this book, you learn how to design web sites and intranets that support growth, management, and ease of use. Special attention is given to:

  • The process behind architecting a large, complex site

  • Web site hierarchy design and organization

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is for webmasters, designers, and anyone else involved in building a web site. It's for novice web designers who, from the start, want to avoid the traps that result in poorly designed sites. It's for experienced web designers who have already created sites but realize that something "is missing" from their sites and want to improve them. It's for programmers and administrators who are comfortable with HTML, CGI, and Java but want to understand how to organize their web pages into a cohesive site. The authors are two of the principals of Argus Associates, a web consulting firm. At Argus, they have created information architectures for web sites and intranets of some of the largest companies in the United States, including Chrysler Corporation, Barron's, and Dow Chemical.

Table of Contents

  1. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
    1. Foreword
    2. Preface
      1. Our Perspective
      2. Who This Book Is For
      3. How To Use This Book
      4. Text Conventions
      5. Other (Really Important) Conventions
      6. We’d Like to Hear from You
      7. Acknowledgments
    3. 1. What Makes a Web Site Work
      1. Consumer Sensitivity Boot Camp
      2. If You Don’t Like to Exercise...
        1. What Do You Hate About the Web?
          1. Can’t find it
          2. Poor graphic design and layout
          3. Gratuitous use of bells and whistles
          4. Inappropriate tone
          5. Designer-centeredness
          6. Under construction
          7. Lack of attention to detail
        2. What Do You Like About the Web?
          1. Aesthetics
          2. Big ideas
          3. Utility
          4. “Findability”
          5. Personalization
        3. A Last Word About Consumers
    4. 2. Introduction to Information Architecture
      1. The Role of the Information Architect
        1. The Consumer’s Perspective
        2. The Producer’s Perspective
      2. Who Should Be the Information Architect?
        1. Thinking Like an Outsider
        2. Thinking Like an Insider
        3. Disciplinary Background
          1. Graphic design
          2. Information and library science
          3. Journalism
          4. Usability engineering
          5. Marketing
          6. Computer science
        4. Balance Your Perspective
      3. Collaboration and Communication
    5. 3. Organizing Information
      1. Organizational Challenges
        1. Ambiguity
        2. Heterogeneity
        3. Differences in Perspectives
        4. Internal Politics
      2. Organizing Web Sites and Intranets
        1. Organization Schemes
          1. Exact organization schemes
            1. Alphabetical
            2. Chronological
            3. Geographical
          2. Ambiguous organization schemes
            1. Topical
            2. Task-oriented
            3. Audience-specific
            4. Metaphor-driven
          3. Hybrid schemes
        2. Organization Structures
          1. The hierarchy: A top-down approach
          2. Designing hierarchies
          3. Hypertext
          4. The relational database model: A bottom-up approach
          5. Designing databases
      3. Creating Cohesive Organization Systems
    6. 4. Designing Navigation Systems
      1. Browser Navigation Features
      2. Building Context
      3. Improving Flexibility
      4. Types of Navigation Systems
        1. Hierarchical Navigation Systems
        2. Global Navigation Systems
        3. Local Navigation Systems
        4. Ad Hoc Navigation
      5. Integrated Navigation Elements
        1. Navigation Bars
        2. Frames
          1. Screen real estate
          2. The page model
          3. Display speed
          4. Complex design
        3. Pull-Down Menus
      6. Remote Navigation Elements
        1. The Table of Contents
        2. The Index
        3. The Site Map
        4. The Guided Tour
      7. Designing Elegant Navigation Systems
    7. 5. Labeling Systems
      1. Why You Should Care About Labeling
        1. Squandering Attention Spans
        2. Making Bad Impressions
        3. Self-Centered Labeling
      2. Labeling Systems, Not Labels
      3. Types of Labeling Systems
        1. Labels Within Navigation Systems
        2. Labels as Indexing Terms
        3. Link Labels
        4. Labels as Headings
        5. Iconic Labeling Systems
      4. Creating Effective Labeling Systems
        1. Sources for Labeling Systems
          1. The labels currently in place
          2. Other web sites
          3. Controlled vocabularies and thesauri
          4. Labels from content
          5. Labels from users and experts
      5. Fine-Tuning the Labeling System
        1. The Basics
        2. Labeling System Scope and Size
      6. Non-Representational Labeling Systems
        1. Good Head-Scratching
        2. When You Just Have To Use Icons
      7. A Double Challenge
    8. 6. Searching Systems
      1. Searching and Your Web Site
        1. When Not To Make Your Site Searchable
        2. When To Make Your Site Searchable
      2. Understanding How Users Search
        1. Users Have Different Kinds of Information Needs
          1. Known-item searching
          2. Existence searching
          3. Exploratory searching
          4. Comprehensive searching (research)
        2. Searching and Browsing Are Integrated
        3. Multiple Iterations Are Commonplace
        4. The Moving Target: A Likely Scenario
      3. Designing the Search Interface
        1. Support Different Modes of Searching
        2. Searching and Browsing Systems Should Be Closely Integrated
        3. Searching Should Conform to the Site’s Look and Feel
        4. Search Options Should Be Clear
        5. Choose a Search Engine That Fits Users’ Needs
        6. Display Search Results Sensibly
        7. More About Relevance
        8. Always Provide the User with Feedback
        9. Other Considerations
      4. In an Ideal World: The Reference Interview
      5. Indexing the Right Stuff
        1. Indexing the Entire Site
        2. Search Zones: Selectively Indexing the Right Content
          1. Apples and apples: indexing similar content types
          2. Who’s going to care? Indexing for specific audiences
          3. Drilling down: Indexing by subject
          4. Yesterday’s news: Indexing recent content
      6. To Search or Not To Search?
    9. 7. Research
      1. Getting Started
        1. Face-to-Face Meetings
        2. Web Site Critiques
        3. Information Architecture Critiques
      2. Defining Goals
        1. Measuring Success
      3. Learning About the Intended Audiences
      4. Identifying Content and Function Requirements
        1. Identifying Content in Existing Web Sites
        2. Wish Lists and Content Inventory Forms
      5. Grouping Content
    10. 8. Conceptual Design
      1. Brainstorming with White Boards and Flip Charts
      2. Metaphor Exploration
      3. Scenarios
      4. High-Level Architecture Blueprints
      5. Architectural Page Mockups
      6. Design Sketches
      7. Web-Based Prototypes
    11. 9. Production and Operations
      1. Detailed Architecture Blueprints
      2. Content Mapping
      3. Web Page Inventory
      4. Point-of-Production Architecture
      5. Architecture Style Guides
      6. Learning from Users
        1. Focus Groups
        2. Individual User Testing
        3. Questions and Suggestions
        4. Usage Tracking
    12. 10. Information Architecture in Action
      1. Archipelagoes of Information
      2. A Case Study: Henry Ford Health System
        1. Org Chart as Default Architecture
        2. Sub-Site Record Pages
        3. Labeling Systems for Sub-Site Record Pages
        4. Searching System
        5. Guides
        6. Multiple Pathways to Content
        7. Conclusion
    13. 11. Selected Bibliography
      1. Information Architecture
      2. Organization
      3. Navigation
      4. Labeling
      5. Searching
      6. Strategy and Process
      7. Usability
      8. General Design
    14. Index
    15. Colophon