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Topic: Information Architecture

The art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities, and software. Bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape and especially the web. Designing user flows, information systems, and content structures. Pathways of desire. Sitemaps, metadata, use cases, scenarios, persona development.

  • Gardens, Not Graves

    by Allen Tan · Issue 399 ·

    The stream is great for showing timely, scannable content. But solely organizing by reverse chronology leads to a dire loss of context. What can we do to make content easier to understand for those coming across it for the first time? Allen Tan explores methods for turning our untended archives into lively, flourishing spaces.

  • The Battle for the Body Field

    by Jeff Eaton · Issue 391 ·

    As we attempt to combine multi-device design requirements with complex, media-rich narratives, we’ve hit the wall. The chunky, fields-and-templates approach we’ve developed can’t save us from the mismatch between our content and HTML’s descriptive tools. The good news is we don’t have to convert all our projects to XML to learn from the XML community’s wisdom. By using custom elements and properties to represent content’s meaning, transforming it into HTML on output, and ensuring that editing tools share the same vocabulary, we can publish structured content that supports the needs of today’s editors and art directors while also making our content safe for future generations.

  • Connected UX

    by Aarron Walter · Issue 381 ·

    Your inbox overflows with customer emails suggesting features and improvements. Instead of benefiting, you feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable deluge. You conduct usability tests, user interviews, and competitive analyses, creating and sharing key insights. Yet within months, what you learned has been lost, forgotten, or ignored by someone in a different department. What if you could sift, store, and share all your customer learning in a way that breaks down silos, preserves and amplifies insights, and turns everyone in your organization into a researcher? MailChimp’s user experience director Aarron Walter tells how his team did it. You can, too.

  • Seeing the Elephant: Defragmenting User Research

    by Lou Rosenfeld · Issue 381 ·

    Silos: good for grain, awful for understanding customer behavior. Just as we favor the research tools that we find familiar and comfortable, large organizations often use research methods that reflect their own internal selection biases. As a result, they miss out on detecting (and confirming) interesting patterns that emerge concurrently from different research silos. And they likely won’t learn something new and important. IA thought leader Lou Rosenfeld explains how balance, cadence, conversation, and perspective provide a framework enabling your research teams to think across silos and achieve powerful insights even senior leadership can understand.

  • Security Affair

    by The W3C ·

    Apps are shifting more logic to the client, which is changing the security landscape. These are exciting times for the web.

  • Digital Publishing and the Web

    by The W3C ·

    Electronic books are on the rise everywhere. For some this threatens centuries-old traditions; for others it opens up new possibilities in the way we think about information exchange in general, and about books in particular. Hate it or love it: electronic books are with us to stay.

  • Material Honesty on the Web

    by Kevin Goldman · Issue 372 ·

    Material honesty—the idea that a substance should be itself, rather than mimic something else—has guided everyone from Ruskin to Charles and Ray Eames. How might material honesty apply to our immaterial (digital) projects? What light might its principles shed on such aesthetic debates as flat versus skeumorphic web design? And how might a materially honest approach change how we conceive and sell our projects? Kevin Goldman forecasts increased longevity for our work and even our careers if we apply the principles of material honesty to our digital world.

  • The Web on Mobile and Beyond

    by The W3C ·

    People used to stare at me and laugh, back in 2005 when W3C launched its Mobile Web Initiative to advocate the importance of the web to the mobile world. Now I am the one smiling much of the time, as I did most recently during the 2013 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, one of the largest events to focus on mobile devices and networks.

  • The UX of Learning

    by Tyler Tate · Issue 331 ·

    Think of the last time you ordered a book, booked a flight, or bought a car. How did you choose which book to read, where to go for vacation, or which car was best for you? You may have searched online, read reviews, or asked others for advice to help you make an informed decision. In a word, you learned. Learning is a complex process with distinct stages, each with corresponding tasks and emotions. Understanding how users learn can help us design experiences that support the user throughout the entire process. To design better learning experiences online, start by learning a thing or two about learning itself.

  • Infrequently Asked Questions of FAQs

    by R. Stephen Gracey · Issue 303 ·

    We take FAQs for granted as part of our sites’ content, but do they really work, or are they a band-aid for poor content? FAQ-hater R. Stephen Gracey explores the history and usability of FAQs. Learn how to collect, track, and analyze real user questions, sales inquiries, and support requests, and use the insights gained thereby to improve your site's content, not just to write a FAQ. Find out when FAQs are an appropriate part of your content strategy, and discover how to ensure that your FAQ is doing all it should to help your customers.

  • You Can Get There From Here: Websites for Learners

    by Amber Simmons · Issue 295 ·

    "Content-rich" is not enough. Most websites are not learner-friendly. As an industry, we haven't done our best to make our content-rich websites suitable for learning and exploration. Learners require more from us than keywords and killer headlines. They need an environment that is narrative, interactive, and discoverable. Amber Simmons tells how to begin creating rich content sites that invite and repay exploration and discovery.

  • Internal Site Search Analysis: Simple, Effective, Life Altering!

    by Avinash Kaushik · Issue 292 ·

    Your search and clickstream data is missing a key ingredient: customer intent. You have all the clicks, the pages people viewed, and where they bailed, but not why they came to the site. Your internal site-search data contains that missing ingredient: intent. Learn five ways to analyze your internal site-search data, data that's easy to get, to understand, and to act on.

  • The Elements of Social Architecture

    by Christina Wodtke · Issue 279 ·

    While our designs can never control people, they can encourage good behavior and discourage bad. In this excerpt from Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 2nd Edition, Christina Wodtke tells us how to make products that delight people and change their lives by remembering the social in social architecture.

  • Flexible Fuel: Educating the Client on IA

    by Keith LaFerriere · Issue 273 ·

    IA is about selling ideas effectively, designing with accuracy, and working with complex interactivity to guide different types of customers through website experiences. The more your client knows about IA's processes and deliverables, the likelier the project is to succeed.

  • Understanding Progressive Enhancement

    by Aaron Gustafson · Issue 269 ·

    Steven Champeon turned web development upside down, and created an instant best practice of standards-based design, when he introduced the notion of designing for content and experience instead of browsers. In part one of a series, ALA’s Gustafson refreshes us on the principles of progressive enhancement. Upcoming installments will translate the philosophy into sophisticated, future-focused design and code.

  • Mapping Memory: Web Designer as Information Cartographer

    by Aaron Rester · Issue 266 ·

    The rise of the social web demands that we rethink our traditional role as builders of digital monuments, and turn our attention to the close observation of the spaces that our users are producing around us. It's time for a new metaphor. Consider cartography.

  • Never Use a Warning When you Mean Undo

    by Aza Raskin · Issue 241 ·

    Are our web apps as smart as they should be? By failing to account for habituation (the tendency, when presented with a string of repetitive tasks, to keep clicking OK), do our designs cause people to lose their work? Raskin's simple, foolproof rule solves the problem.

  • Human-to-Human Design

    by Sharon Lee · Issue 240 ·

    Help your audience fall in love with you by moving beyond human-to-computer interfaces and embracing human-to-human design.

  • Where Am I?

    by Derek Powazek · Issue 221 ·

    It’s 2006 and we’re still messing up global navigation. Derek Powazek gets back to basics and offers a few simple guidelines for getting it right.

  • Paper Prototyping

    by Shawn Medero · Issue 231 ·

    Running with scissors isn't recommended for kids, but it might be ideal for your next big development project. With interfaces becoming more complex and schedules growing shorter, the best prototyping tools may be simpler than you think.

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