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on January 6, 2003
I have to say, this was one of the few books that can be
used out of the box. Like the book said, this book may not
be too useful for experienced information architects/UI desingers, but you may still learn some new tricks.
There are lot of IA/user experience books for the websites out
there, and you may spend lot of money....but if you could
only afford few books and you are a practicing IA or desinger,
new to this field then read this book couple of times.
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on January 2, 2003
In the previous, I thought information architecture (IA) is just about organizing the content, defining the labels and designing the navigation schemes. After reading this book, I understand IA is much much broader and useful than I can imagine.
This book explains why we need IA and shows us steps and examples of how to do it well.
The first few chapters of the book are about some basic user experience design and usability knowledge. They are useful if you are new to this field.
After that few chapters, the book becomes more and more exciting. The author started to teach us the foundation of many IA techniques including user interviews, card sort exercise, meta data, controlled vocabulary, personas and scenarios, task analysis, web UI design and diagramming.
Personally, I love chapter 9 - "Making It All Up, Writing It All Down" so much. It is about diagramming and documentation. It makes me understand that there are a lot of stuffs I have to prepare before I really build a web site.
The example on re-organizing the Digital Web Magazine in chapter 10 also opens my eyes.
Thank you, Christina!
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on December 30, 2002
As a professional Information Architect (IA), I try to read as many design books as I can, and this is one I will recommend again and again, mainly for it's refreshing lack of pretense and it's easy-to-follow style.
For the Non-IA, read this book because it "demystifies" IA on many levels. It explains what an Information Architect does, why you might need one, and does a great job of discussing all of the possible deliverables an IA might produce and why. If you're overwhelmed with design "buzzword bingo", this book explains a lot, and in easy-to-understand terms.
For the IA, read this book for the up-to-the-minute tools and techniques. She doesn't dictate a fixed methodology or hard-and-fast rules, instead, she presents a toolbox and guidelines for using them. I found the chapters on Personas and Taxonomies/Controlled Vocabularies especially helpful. She demonstrates that she's been out there working in the real word when she offers advice on overcoming creative blocks, working with people, and how to get your ideas across to (not always supportive) groups of people.
Many IAs will see themselves in this book ("I've created wireframes that look just like that" or "Yes, I've found that too!"), but the real value here might be recommending this book to your favorite Project Manager or Developer so they can gain a little more insight into what you do and go to bat for you on the next collaborative project.
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on December 29, 2002
As a freelance designer who is starting to take on larger projects, this book came in VERY handy. I learn't an awful lot and if I hadn't read this book before even attempting to take on some of my larger clients, I can easily say I would not of landed the pitch. Very good info and a lot of resources linked from it for even more reading.
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on December 26, 2002
Written in a clear, informal and humorous style, Christina takes on the challenge of explaining what Information architecture (IA) is all about and walks us step by step through the IA process and is descriptive and instructional instead of theoretical. This book doesn't give reader rigid rules such as "navigation bars should have only seven links" or some fixed methodology or which software to use for developing websites. Instead, this book is focused on the big picture of building a website: the big picture about the business's needs, the end user's needs, and what needs to go into the site and how to present information in a clear, easy to find format. Just like planning a skyscraper, a website needs its blueprint before choosing building materials or worry about the actual construction of the building.
Personally, I find the chapter on "Making it all up, writing it all down" particularly helpful. Christina provides us with a set of tools to try out as part of the IA process. As she stated at the introduction, she didn't give us a set of rules but instead, developed a toolbox with a collection of techniques and principles for readers to pick and choose based on their needs. Tools that will actually make us think, make us work harder on formulating a better site structure rather than applying simple rules to all your problems.
If you are involved in the web development process, regardless your role as the business managers, project planner, web designer, programmer, etc, and you need to buy any book on planning and organizing your website, this should be it.
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on December 20, 2002
This is a clear, concise guide to Web site architecture written with a sense of humor and whimsy that makes it an entertaining read.
Christina brushes aside pat answers and offers an extraordinarily sharp analysis of Web architecture based on what counts most: helping users find what they want.
Here's a book that offers important basic information on everything from organizing your content (she's exceptional at approaching a complex concept analytically) to deciding where on the page the links should go. And it's illustrated with loads of screen shots and examples from Web sites to help it all make sense.
I'd rank it an "A" or "A+++++++" on the eBay ranking scale.
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on December 12, 2002
There ain't much to say about web-building that doesn't boil down to Jared Spool's motto: "It depends..."
Does this book fill a real need?
Does it clarify the challenges that face designers who have to be business people? Not really.
Does it present research in a way that goes beyond what's out there? No, it just uses jargon and gets tangled in terminological quibbles.
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on December 11, 2002
Christina Wodtke says she doesn't like rules, so she calls them principals. Whats the difference? She says she won't recommend software. So why does she give us a click-by-click review of Adobe InDesign, her "program of choice"? She even recommends a tall triple latte if you need a caffine high. Hello? In between, she also says some relevant stuff (and takes a lot of time saying it), but the true nuggets of wisdom are easy to miss in this hodge-podge of opinion spiced with California-webchic. Blueprints for the Web reads more like a blog than a book, which is to say it's pretty badly organized for a book that's supposed to teach organization.
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on December 3, 2002
In this book, Wodtke presents a no-nonsense design methodology. Initial words condemn the shallowness of a "design-by-guru" methodology, and the rest of the book follows this up by giving plenty of hooks for thought and reflective design. Even if you are a seasoned designer and already understand and use the fundamentals that Wodtke puts forward, this book is a valuable opportunity to get into the mind of another designer. Highly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 13, 2002
The ergonomically correct design of a web page is a very difficult task. The placement of information on pages and links to other pages is a very inexact, yet necessary science. However, great strides have been made in understanding how humans follow the flow of web pages, what attracts us and what sends us scurrying away in frustration. Many of the results of this ongoing research are summarized in this book.
Information architecture is a new area and it is defined as the overall structure of a web presence. It starts at the initial idea of what you expect the web page to offer, continues through to the expectations that the user will have, passing through every facet of what the web page presents to the world. If there is one thing that the dot-bomb phenomena should have taught all of us it is that creating high quality web pages that work is a very hard thing to do. Subtle clues such as proximity, a slight difference in a color or font, location on the page from top to bottom and left to right all communicate something to the user. While those messages are very soft-spoken, they are very real and powerful, so it is necessary to learn them to be successful. The expenses of doing a quality job are much higher than almost everyone realized, so anything that can reduce the difficulty is appreciated.
This book will do that for you. It will show you how to start the project by expanding the original idea, how to storyboard the page and how to refine it at the end. It can save you a lot of money and also is an excellent choice as a text for courses in how to design web pages.
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