Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web (2nd Edition) Paperback – Jan 22 2009
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- Design for Wayfinding
- Set expectations and provide feedback
- Design ergonomically
- Be consistent / consider standards
- Provide error support (Prevent, Protect, and Inform)
- Rely on Recognition rather than on recall
- Provide for people of varying skill levels
- Provide contextual help and documentation
While the illustrations that drive home the subject matter can be a little clipart-ish at times, the concepts are presented in a non-technical and non-jargon based way. Each topic is explained clearly using an outline / numbered bullet format to ensure that each section can be clearly understood independently and collectively. Items such as `Who are the users?' may seem trivial at first, but imagine how many interpretations of `who are users' exist with an organization and the problems that arise when the user begins to morph throughout the product lifecycle. Wodtke and Govella decompose several non-obvious items such as persona creation and navigational types (structural, associative, and utility) into chunks that are comprehensible (Hrair Limit). I was genuinely surprised to find a section for Social Architecture which exposed me to topics such as Kurt Lewin's formula for understanding human behavior and the elements of social architecture: identity + elements, relationships + elements, and activity + elements.
The book can be read from cover to cover, if time permits. However, most of the world will probably use this book as a reference guide for completing IA related tasks as they arise. I would strongly recommend that all aspiring and current IAs give the book a once over to spawn new thoughts about the discipline or to renew the interest in keeping things usable and findable.
So, overall I'm rating this four stars as a good overview of Information Architecture. They manage to cover a vast and advanced field in a reasonably sized space. They do it pretty well, considering. I don't regret the purchase and I do recommend it for the beginning / intermediate user.
I can't help but see the irony in the presentation. ie ... in covering the subject matter that concerns itself with the science and methods behind classifying information simply and clearly for human consumption?:
The book is all over the map.
Headers for key subjects are not always clear, simple, and consistent at all. Key concepts that are essential to understanding a core subject - are at times buried in colloquial verbiage that serves more to make the subject more confusing that it should. At times I expected the authors to throw in little smiley faces and cute picture of puppy dogs and flowers to make the subject less intimidating and more appealing.
Not necessary - simplicity and clarity are the hallmarks of good IA, and in trying to make the book 'feel' more friendly, they break the rules inherent in what they are trying to teach you to do - and what not to do. In doing so they make it more difficult to learn, and harder to find what you are looking for ... which is exactly what they are trying to teach you not to do!
Like I said: 'Blueprints' is so ironic that it inspired me to take the time to write and post this review. In addition:
The authors are associated with an IA site called 'Boxes and Arrows'. I took a look at the site and my first impression was that it was way more difficult to navigate and understand the hierarchy than it should be: especially for an IA and content management career site.
Then - at one point in the book - they address this. They discuss a redesign of the site that will make it easier for users to find what they are looking for, and get involved with the site.
But the work was never done on the site! It's an IA site, about the field of making information clear and findable, that is not clear and the information is not findable. And they discuss this in the book that they wrote about learning good IA. Then ... they never implemented the fixes they discuss as an illustration in their own book!
Huh?? I am laughing right now because I find irony very funny :) Especially when its so cool and circular like this is. They do seem like nice people and I did get a lot out of the book however. With a bit of tweaking a new edition of the book could be a whole lot more effective (and fix the damn site!!)
Concepts such as usability basics, user-centered design, and social web design are explained, and there is even a chapter with a case study on the Boxes & Arrows website. The book is a great addition to any interaction designer's library.
- Not surprisingly, there's a lot of classification cognition going on here: the three types of personas, the five types of tags, the four types of search, etc. One may not agree with how some of the cards have been sorted, but Wodtke's observations are logical.
- There are a lot of good nuggets about user-centered design from axioms regarding relying on recognition rather than recall to concise explanations of Zipf distribution curves
- Nice illustrations by Michael Fleming
- The types of websites matrix (pp.27-29) is very useful
- Site path diagram exercize on pp.146-47 is very good
- Occasional slips into black-turtlenecked UX businessspeak, for example the reference to My Starbucks Idea as a "demand aggregator"
Overall - well-done practicum on the IA/UX discipline.