louisrosenfeld.com logotype
  Bloug Archive

Date range: Jun 2001 thru Dec 2017
Total results: 710

Jan 26, 2015: testimonials   0 comments

Jul 12, 2013: What does instructional video mean for publishers?   12 comments
Did you think that publishers were in the business of figuring out books? Hah! Well, you're only partially right. I'm feeling pretty good about Rosenfeld Media's books these days. What's keeping me up at night is instructional video. Partially because people are increasingly turning to video over text for learning, and partially because it clearly presents a new opportunity. Just not an obvious one. I'm hoping that writing about it here helps me understand it better, and—more importantly—your comments shed even more light on it. I—and our authors and experts—are constantly coming across new opportunities to produce instructional videos. Think Skillshare, Udacity, Udemy, YouTube, Lynda.com, and so on. They have very different business models, most of which are untested and, in some cases, unstable. It's a daunting space to understand—but looking at a medium through the lens of its tools is completely the wrong way to figure it out. My job, as a publisher, is to take that step back and try to…

Apr 22, 2013: The Benefits of a Train Wreck   1 comment
Want to make an information architect squirm? Just ask this simple question: "Show me an example of good information architecture." Chances are we'll stammer, mumble something about good IA being invisible IA, and slink away. It doesn't have to be that way—if we're willing to turn the question on its head. Forget good IA—let's focus on bad IA. You know, the reason that information architecture got started as a practice in the first place. Let's dig deep into the darkness of just how much life can suck at an absolutely fundamental level when people can't find and understand information. Let's show—in a direct, visual, painful, and wildly engaging way—what happens when you blow off that IA stuff. Let's tap the natural impulse to look—to stare!—at the horror of pileups on the information superhighway. (There but for the grace of god go IA.) These train wrecks will be quite instructive—in the same way as Jeff Johnson's GUI Bloopers, or as a mirror image to…

Apr 11, 2013: Putting my money where my mouth is   24 comments
(Boy, I don't blog much these days, do I?) For those of you following, the Information Architecture Institute—which I co-founded with Christina Wodtke over ten years ago—is going through more existential angst than usual. The topic of the institute's future and its business model—or lack thereof—came up at the annual IAI town meeting at last week's IA Summit, as it does every year. And every year for the past five or so, I foam at the mouth and launch spittle along with strong words about how the IAI should abandon its ill-guided dependency upon paid membership (remember, professional associations use an early 20th-century business model—almost as old as that of publishers!). Instead, I suggest that the IAI make involvement free and grow it ten-fold or twenty-fold in a year. Then make money from sponsors, who will be much happier reaching 14,000 people who are interested in IA, than the current 1,400 who are more likely to have IA as their job title. I'm…

Oct 7, 2012: Homecoming month   2 comments
I've been looking forward to this month for quite a while. I'll be taking two trips—one to Ann Arbor, the other to Moscow—and both involve crossing a fair bit of time as well as space. The trip to Moscow happens this week (yikes: pack! check passport status! locate winter coat!). I'm keynoting the UX Russia conference and teaching a workshop there as well. I'm also planning on eating as many pelmeni as I can possibly stuff down my gullet. My only other time in Russia was ten weeks during the summer of 1985. I officially was there to study Russian at LGU (Leningrad State University). But let's be honest—I was one about thirty 20-year olds in country that enjoyed its vodka and still happened to find us westerners quite interesting. Yep. That was a really fun summer. Sadly, my Russian has gone to pot in the 27 years since. I also imagine the place is a bit different than my last visit.…

Sep 14, 2012: What have I been up to lately?   0 comments
Mostly getting this off the ground. And damn, I'm excited. In many respects, it marries Rosenfeld Media, the publishing house, with what I've been doing as a solo consultant/teacher for most of the past twelve years. I think there's something unique, and potentially disruptive, in that combination. Anyway, we'll see. It's certainly nice to, after two or three years, stop talking this talk and start walking the walk. Wish me luck! Oh, and this just came out a few hours ago. When Nathan and Chris told me about the idea for this book, it made me smile. Still smiling; what a cool concept. And, I hope, a book you'll find useful.…

Jul 20, 2012: Meet me in Toronto, Minneapolis, or... Moscow?   0 comments
Fall is around the corner, and that means workshops. Rosenfeld Media's UX workshop roadshow will visit NYC October 10-12, Minneapolis November 12-14, and Toronto November 28-30. You'd think I'd be teaching in NYC, given that it's where I live, but I'll be making my way to Moscow that week to keynote UX Russia. I'm pretty excited—haven't been there since I spent the summer of '85 in the USSR—and I imagine things may have changed a bit. But I will be teaching my Adaptable IA workshop in Minneapolis and Toronto. You know, the workshop that helps you avoid pointless, expensive redesigns with a wonderful practical regiment of tuning? The one that anyone involved in IA in any large or mid-sized organization absolutely must attend? Yes, it's that one. There is a pretty amazing lineup of non-Rosenfelds presenting as well, and you'll love the courses. As always, they're intimate (capped at 50), engaging, and highly practical. Hope to see you somewhere this fall!…

Jun 7, 2012: Response to "An open letter to the User Experience Community"   34 comments
(This is a letter, received via email June 6, 2012, from the president of the newly-minted User Experience Professionals' Association, sent to who knows how many people. My responses are interspersed in italics.) Hello to members of the user experience community, UPA members, and our colleagues around the world. Back atcha from Third Street, here in Brooklyn. I've had the opportunity over the past 24 hours to listen to the community as it digests, either here in Las Vegas or around the world, the meaning of our announcement. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, yesterday at the UPA 2012 conference, UPA treasurer Ronnie Battista announced that the UPA is no longer. We have started a brand new organization, the UXPA, or User Experience Professionals Association. Yes, I'd heard rumors that this was going to happen months ago. Ronnie spent a great deal of time and effort on that talk, and I want you to be able to…

May 16, 2012: It's been a while   1 comment
Yes, too long. Just some quick updates on what I've been up to in 2012: Been teaching my Adaptable Information Architecture workshop; last one of the spring is May 23 in NYC (and, yes, still some seats open). Planning more cities for Rosenfeld Media's fall workshop tour—likely in Toronto, Minneapolis, NYC, and Tel-Aviv. Hey, speaking of my workshop, Smashing Magazine just (minutes ago) published my very related article "Stop Redesigning And Start Tuning Your Site Instead". Consulting for a couple select clients whose names I dare not speak. Yes, I continue to make a living as an information therapist. Publishing new books like crazy! Rosenfeld Media has published eight titles so far, but it looks like—thanks to the perverse gods of scheduling—we'll double the catalog this year. John Ferrara's Playful Design debuts in a few days, and Rachel Hinman's The Mobile Frontier in a couple weeks. And we have about eight more in the pipeline (and more signings coming soon). And traveling (and usually speaking)…

Jan 11, 2012: Meet me (and friends) in Mountain View and NYC   2 comments
The never-ending Rosenfeld Media UX Workshops tour continues! I'll be teaching my pragmatic approach to information architecture at 500 Startups in Mountain View (March 5); I'll be joined there by Luke Wroblewski (Web Form Design, March 6) and Steve Krug (Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing, March 7). In New York City, I'll be teaching my IA workshop on May 23; Rachel Hinman teaches Mobile Prototyping Essentials on May 24, and Steve teaches his usability workshop on May 25. These are really practical workshops—very small, very hands-on—and a great way to boost your UX team's skillset quickly and cheaply. Please spread the word; hope to see you there! P.S. We're looking to add a third city. What should it be?…

Oct 17, 2011: Upcoming UIE seminar on information architecture   1 comment
I'm frustrated. I've taught my full day workshops probably seventy times over the past decade. I've increasingly downplayed what I call "top-down navigation"—you know, main pages, site hierarchies, and the such—in favor of the other two hugely more important areas of IA: search and contextual navigation. You know, the stuff that unlocks your deep content. And site maps and wireframes? I don't think I've addressed them since the second edition of the Polar Bear book. Well, it happened again today. I heard someone mention "IA and search". As if they're separate things. Folks, IA is all about helping people find information. That means helping users browse and search and ask questions, as well some other things, like orienting them. (Worst thing is that I sometimes hear self-styled information architects talk this way.) Well, dammit, once again I'm going to try to dispel some myths about IA. And offer some concrete suggestions about what IA can do for you aside from wireframes. On November 3,…

Oct 12, 2011: Updated site search analytics deck   1 comment
Just presented this one at the Web 2.0 Expo this morning. As part of my program of continual improvement in presentation creation, I've beefed up the practical stuff. Hope you find it useful: Site Search Analytics: 8 things you can do View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld …

Sep 23, 2011: Closing the Findability Gap: 8 better practices from Information Architecture   2 comments
This is the closest thing I've done to a big picture "what IA is good for and where it's going" talk in a very long while. Hope you find it useful: Closing the Findability Gap: 8 better practices from information architecture View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld …

Aug 24, 2011: Thinking of writing a book?   0 comments
Just got asked for the Nth time by a colleague for advice on whether or not they should write a book. Figured I should share my advice, or at least capture it here so I can point folks to it in the future. Here goes: First ask yourself if a book is the appropriate package for your content (and its users).  If it is, ask yourself if you really want to spend at least a year of your precious time and effort to write one. If you do, ask yourself if you want to publish it yourself, or if you see value in having a publisher work with you. Some people can pull off a book on their own; others like/need to have editorial, production, promotion, and distribution handled by someone else. If you want a publisher, find the one whose audience most closely matches the one you wish to reach. While I believe that some publishers are far superior to others ;-) ultimately…

Aug 23, 2011: A simple model for gradual engagement   4 comments
Design is complex. And in the face of complex challenges, we often reach for the false comfort of black-and-white solutions. Lately, however, I've been reaching for onions. (This one was kindly created by the incomparable Eva-Lotta Lamm.) Onion-layer models help make the case for and rather than or approaches to solving problems. They are a powerful visual way to communicate the shades of gray that invariably color the solutions required by complex design challenges. Here's an example that came up during a recent client engagement. Their challenge: work in a variety of new features—many which would require some sort of authentication—into their commerce site. Part of the challenge was the disturbingly large number of features that needed to be integrated. The other part was the risk of hitting users with too many features too soon or, conversely, hiding too many behind a daunting, crocodile-infested registration moat. Clearly some sort of framework was necessary to introduce those features at the right pace…

Jul 29, 2011: Teaching in London, Seattle, & DC this fall   0 comments
I'll be teaching Adaptable Information Architecture this fall in three cities: Washington, DC: September 9 Seattle: September 26 London: October 4 This is part of the growing Rosenfeld Media UX Workshop tour, and I'll be joined by Indi Young, Steve Portigal, Anders Ramsay, and (in all three cities) Steve Krug. As always, the sessions are small and intimate. Also highly practical and, I like to think, very engaging. And, as much as it pains me, we've cut prices (given how crowded the UX workshop calendar is getting, this is a given). My workshop starts with a fiery version of my Redesign Must Die talk, and then digs deeply into the many more effective (and less expensive) alternatives. I can pretty much assure you that what you bring back to work will be far more valuable than the $495 you paid to attend. If you'd like to learn more, check out the session description or peruse the slides: Adaptable Information Workshop slides View more presentations from…

Jul 19, 2011: You know you're maintaining too many blogs when...   0 comments
...you forget to mention on your main blog that your new book is now on sale. D'oh. Well, it is! Grab a copy of Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with Your Customers directly from Rosenfeld Media: US$39 gets you the book in paperback and (instant, DRM-free) PDF, ePUB, and MOBI. US$22 gets you the digital versions only. The testimonials and tweets are nice; hopefully the Amazon reviews will be as well. Apropos, UX Matters published a sample chapter and an interview with me, and SearchEngineLand has run the first of a two-part interview. (Thanks to respective interviewers Kristina Mausser and Shari Thurow!) And more thanks to the many of you who helped and prodded me lo these many years to finish the thing! Anyway, please grab a copy and let me know what you think. Even better, post your reactions on Amazon.…

Jun 24, 2011: The Metrics of In-Betweenness   13 comments
I just read somewhere that when organizations reach a threshold of 150 employees, collaboration ceases. I might quibble with the black-and-whiteness of such a statement, but it feels about right to me. If this really is the case, then the rational path for large organizations is to to keep chopping themselves up into smaller pieces that enable communication, collaboration, and innovation. In my consulting, I've seen companies with successful product groups that are about this size. These groups have their own KPI and often their own P&Ls. All good. But usually there is no equivalent group that owns the glue, the connective tissue between product groups. That means cross-promotion is often as poor as promotion is good. In other, non-commercial contexts—say a corporate intranet—that missing glue destroys divisions' ability to communicate and collaborate with each other—which is still kind of important if a large organization is to function at all. Many senior leaders recognize the silo problem, but they solve it the…

Jun 20, 2011: 1 UX lesson for your C-level friends   31 comments
Quick: you have the undivided attention of your organization's senior leaders for the next ten minutes. What one thing would you teach them about user experience?…

May 18, 2011: Sweat the important things   10 comments
I've used the following diagram in many workshop presentations (like this one). It's homely, but it always seems to resonate well with at least a few of my workshop attendees: Just got asked to explain what's going on here, and realized I'd never done so outside the workshop context. So here goes: One reason sites suck is that so many of us have forgotten why our sites exist. We get distracted, lose sight of priorities, and end up with sites that don't do the most important things users want. Such a site is kind of like Swiss Army knife without the, um, knife. This simple little report card forces you to (re)prioritize what your site's there for in seven simple steps: Identify critical audience segments Determine what each really, really wants Determine what stakeholders really, really want for those segments Combine #2 (wants) and #3 (needs) through negotiation Evaluate performance Fix what's not working Repeat regularly Simple, eh? Yet a frightening proportion of organizations I've worked with can't: Identify critical audience…

May 6, 2011: Full circle   3 comments
So I'm a librarian again. And very much enjoying it. More about this soon.…

Apr 12, 2011: The new Redesign Must Die talk   5 comments
Another day, another bloody presentation. I use the term "bloody" because I'm in the UK for #UXLondon at the moment, which instantly makes me an honorary Englishman. I can eat fry for breakfast, duck into a subway without paying a fare, and, of course, talk about bloody this and bloody that. Anyway. This presentation is an updated version of my old Redesign Must Die talk, given a few years back. I think that the only slide to survive this redesi... (cough) new version is the infamous one featuring the kittens. If you care nothing for redesign and only for kittens, jump ahead to slide #5. Otherwise, prepare to witness my wrath: Redesign Must Die View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld …

Apr 4, 2011: The IA Summit: joint custody   13 comments
It really was great. Something of a bounce-back year in so many ways—energy, attendance, experience, and most of all, content. Thanks so much to everyone who was involved—from Jess McMullin and Samantha Starmer, who were co-chairs—down to everyone who bothered to show up. Even those of you who got something remotely from the Twitter stream. Awesome. I'll admit that I'd been wondering if this would be our last IA Summit. If it was, it'd be quite sad. But all things must pass, and a twelve-year run would be nothing to sneeze at. I know I'd be proud. But there will be an #ias12 (and in New Orleans, which is wonderful news). Unfortunately, next year's event will once again be attended by a 900 lb. gorilla that, like me, has attended every IA Summit: a broken business model. The IA community's flagship event is owned by ASIS&T, an entirely different community's professional association. The IA community's own professional association, the IAI, has…

Mar 23, 2011: Slides for my Adaptable Information Architecture workshop   0 comments
Giving it for the first time Friday in San Francisco; then Atlanta (April 29) and Chicago (June 1). Details and registration info. Adaptable Information Workshop slides View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld …

Mar 15, 2011: Another new talk and other good things   3 comments
Because I'm getting asked a fair bit, here are the slides from my talk two days ago at SXSW: Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld You can download them from SlideShare if you like. It's a very nuts-and-bolts talk on how site search analytics can help you improve your site. Lots of credit to Jared Spool, as I gave an earlier version of this talk as part of UIE's virtual seminar series. Not only is Jared a wonderful presenter, but he's a wonderful coach of presenters. The talk is also a good complement to the bigger-picture talk "Beyond User Research" I'll be giving at both the IA Summit (Denver, April 2) and UX Lisbon (umm, Lisbon, May 13). This one seems to be getting a lot of SlideShare love; I'm pretty excited about it. I'm giving a lot of talks lately. And, if you've known me…

Mar 7, 2011: Tilting at silos again   3 comments
Just finished a new deck for a talk called "Beyond User Research". I'll be giving it at both the IA Summit in Denver (April 2) and as one of the keynotes at UX Lisbon (May 13). Silos are once again featured—only this time, rather than bitching about content silos, I'm railing at how the insights that come from various varieties of user research are so fragmented that organizations are missing out on their true potential. I've given a couple of lackluster keynotes before, so this time I decided to unlock the amazing power of Brooklyn's UX community and do a dry run. Get this: I got Alex Wright, Anders Ramsay, Mark Raheja, and Paul Ford to sit with me for almost two hours of practice and critique. Unbelievably helpful. I'm very glad I moved here. Anyway, here are the slides; feedback welcomed! Beyond User Research View more presentations from Louis Rosenfeld …

Feb 22, 2011: Teaching a new IA workshop: Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco   1 comment
Steve Krug and I are finally live with our spring 2011 workshops: San Francisco March 23-25, Atlanta April 27-29, and Chicago June 1-3. We've moved our registration system over to EventBrite, which chewed up some time, and to make things even more interesting, we've added a fantastic third speaker to each of the three cities. Get this: Indi Young on developing mental models, Whitney Quesenbery on storytelling for UX, and Ginny Redish on writing for the web. Steve, of course, will cover DIY usability testing. I'm thrilled to be part of such a lineup, and that Rosenfeld Media is the series' main sponsor. You can register here. What will I teach? My new workshop on Adaptable Information Architecture. I'm increasingly convinced that most large organizations will continue to fail if they don't end the painful cycle of "redesign every three years and hope for the best" and move toward a rational process based on prioritization and tuning an information architecture.…

Jan 28, 2011: From publisher of books to purveyor of expertise   1 comment
Here are the slides for a talk I'll be giving at O'Reilly's Tools of Change for Publishing conference on February 15, here in NYC. John Oakes of OR Books and I are both talking about new business models in publishing. Well, in my case, I'm suggesting that it's now impossible for many publishers to even have a business model. I start with the question actually posed to me by one of Rosenfeld Media's recently-signed authors (see if you can guess who from the photo): "why can't you tell me what I'll make based on sales?". After some panicked head-scratching, I realized that it's really, really hard to even say what a "sale" is, when we're dealing with everything from $199 purchases for our entire catalog to micropayments for book excerpts. Really, we're dealing with an almost limitless number of business models, all at the same time, and all changing every fifteen minutes. I then move on to…

Jan 27, 2011: Some recent interviews   0 comments
Hi all; just capturing some links to a buncha recent interviews that people have been nice enough to do with me: Brad Nunnally interviewed me in Johnny Holland: "Web Analytics and User Experience: An Interview with Louis Rosenfeld". Lots of retweets but, oddly, no comments. Hmmm... negative attention? I'm the subject of Episode 8 of The Digital Life, Involutions Studios' podcast series. It was great to talk with Jonathan Follett and reconnect with my old pal, Dirk Knemeyer. Dan Klyn also interviewed me for his University of Michigan information architecture course, recorded it, and convinced me to let it go public. Only later did I remember that I said things in it that I'd probably regret. The good news is that I can't find it on the Web. I really like it when Google screws up that way... I appreciate being asked my opinion, though I'm not entirely sure why these nice folks bothered. Thanks though!…

Jan 13, 2011: My new information architecture workshop   4 comments
As I've mentioned here before, I've been planning on assembling a new information architecture workshop to teach in 2011. Well, it's 2011, so here we go: I've posted a draft description of my new workshop below. It's called Adaptable Information Architecture: how to say no to your next redesign. My goal is to show you how to prioritize what you should work on and tune your information architecture in an ongoing way. Does it sound like something you'd want to take? If so, let me know and I'll email you as soon as the schedule's firmed up. BTW, I'll be teaching it in San Francisco in March, Atlanta in April, and Chicago in June (dates almost set). And, of course, I'd appreciate any general feedback you have. Thanks! Adaptable Information Architecture:how to say no to your next redesign Your web site or intranet has major problems, and everyone knows it. Worse, it's been that…

Jan 12, 2011: The problem in going from vertical to horizontal   5 comments
I was just ruminating over what's happened to the professions of librarianship, where I come from, and journalism, where my wife cut her teeth. Twenty years ago, when we were young professionals, libraries and newspapers were places you'd go to work. They really aren't any longer. The skills themselves have more relevance than ever. They're just not stand-alone positions that you do in particular kinds of buildings. Instead, they've become things you need to know to at least some degree wherever you are. They've moved from vertical to horizontal. Of course, this makes things really hard for people who self-identify vertically, as in "I'm a librarian," or "I write for a newspaper". But even for those who can imagine these skills' value in other settings, it's pretty damned hard to figure out where to find a job. So I'm wondering: are there useful parallels from other professions? And might these serve as a roadmap for…

Dec 9, 2010: Singularly talented people   2 comments
This was fun. Last night, I tweeted/FaceBooked the question "Who comes to mind when you think of a talent that's truly 'singular'?" Your responses are below; what a great list! I've linked each person to their corresponding Wikipedia, and *'d the ones I know little or nothing about. I'm thinking I'll read one per day until the *s go away. Heh; why pay for education ever again? Beethoven *Billie Holiday Bob Dylan (2) Branford Marsalis Bruce Springsteen *Buckminster Fuller *Caravaggio Danny Kaye *David Foster Wallace Deng Xiaoping Dr. Seuss Enrico Fermi Eric Clapton *Erwin Schrodinger *Finbar Fury * Carl Friedrich Gauss George Orwell Gertrude Stein (2) *Ian McEwan Jeff Buckley *Jerry Miculek John Bonham John Lennon Keith Richards *Kevin Gilbert Leonardo da Vinci Louis Armstrong *Mark Sandman Meryl Streep *Mick Thomas Miles Davis Nikola Tesla *Odetta *Paul Dirac Picasso *Rene Girard Renoir Richard Feynmann Robert DeNiro. *Robert Johnson Salvador Dali (2) Sergei Eisenstein Stephen Fry Steve Jobs Sufjan Stevens Tiny Tim *Valentino Rossi Werner Heisenberg Werner Herzog *Wesley Willis *Wolfgang Borchert …

Dec 5, 2010: UX and Publishing   0 comments
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my first unconference—Book Camp NY. Even though I've been a publisher for a few years now, this was the first publishing event I'd ever attended. OpenSky's Mary Ann Naples was kind enough to encourage me to attend, and I figured it'd be a good taste of what to expect from O'Reilly's Tools Of Change conference (where I'll be speaking in February). So I put on my UX ambassador's hat and volunteered to talk about UX and publishing (slides below). In what's apparently true unconference style, a great discussion broke out, so I only made it about a third of the way through my slides. The most memorable nugget for me: editors often are no different than other other kind of product manager—they think they know their readers' needs better than the readers do. As much as I hate to put together slides, it was a useful exercise for me nonetheless.…

Dec 1, 2010: What would you ask Nate Silver?   5 comments
On Monday I'll be meeting with a personal hero, Nate Silver, currently a blogger for the New York Times. I've followed his work for so long that it's hard to believe he's only 32 years old. Damn. Nate is one of the Sabermetricians who, over the past two decades, have used statistical analysis to radically redefine how major league front offices (and fans) evaluate baseball performance. (Read Michael Lewis's wonderful book Moneyball to learn more.) Nate devised a tool called PECOTA that is an incredibly accurate predictor of a player's future performance. He applied the same approach to polling and, ultimately, predicting electoral results. Many found his site, 538.com, an indispensable resource for understanding, and bypassing, the biases inherent in individual polls. 538.com netted him such accolades as being listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people, an appearance on the Colbert Report, and ultimately his current gig at the NY Times. Like…

Nov 16, 2010: Best UX firms in NYC   7 comments
Sure, it's completely unscientific, but I've never heard this discussed anywhere. Probably because I don't get out enough. Personal foibles aside, I'm simply curious: which companies are doing the best user experience work in and around New York City? Could be large agencies, could be individuals. I'm not so much interested in companies whose sites or products provide great experiences; just companies who can help others do well. Oh, and why are they so good? That'd be nice to know too. If I get a reasonable set of responses—where the "votes" can be counted—I'll summarize and share my findings. And, for one time only here at Bloug, anonymous cowards are encouraged to comment:…

Nov 8, 2010: Should we be selling things other than (our) books?   4 comments
I could use a little help here. First, my question: are there physical UX products that you think Rosenfeld Media should carry other than the books we publish ourselves? Such as something that you've been producing? Let me explain: Rosenfeld Media has put together a solid fulfillment network. We now warehouse and ship our books from the US (Detroit, soon to be replaced by Chicago) and the UK (Belfast). Canada (Toronto) should be coming online within the next month. I'm expecting us to fulfill out of an Asian location next year. And this network is backed by what many consider to be superlative customer service (thank you, Karen Corbett). There's no reason that Rosenfeld Media couldn't also handle other physical UX-related products the same way. And over the past couple years I've informally talked with a handful of UX people who have products they'd like us to consider selling on their behalf.…

Nov 4, 2010: The greatest rockabilly songs penned after 1960   0 comments
Because I was curious (so I asked on Twitter), and because you provided so many answers, and because I'm getting nowhere with writing this afternoon... Here they are, the top rockabilly songs written since 1960! From the Twitter: @resmini: If you want to go sophisticated, Stray Cat Strut. If you want to go rough, Rock This Town. @resmini: I must admit I'm partial to Midnite Dynamos exotic flavors as well (http://ow.ly/33r7q). Oh, and Crazy Cavan. Most songs. @jonesabi: Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Is there really a question? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zO6D_BAuYCI @designbyblake: anything by Southern Culture On The Skids @billder: Rock This Town, Stray Cats @jonesabi: Second Place goes to Goody Two Shoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Tj-Xo_eqI @gsmith: anything by Sha Na Na. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NyK3df0xaw @jonesabi: Admission: I'm likely biased by the utter glamorousness of Freddy Mercury and Adam Ant @theredheadsaid: "wonderin" by Neil Young http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a6A6oTFdcw @brevvi: what about the Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues? @strottrot: Jimmy Jazz. Clash. ! @ilowelife: mojo & skid. Burn down the malls. Not pure rockabilly, but damn fine in any case @GreggRugolo: Can Your…

Nov 3, 2010: Ask me and I'll tell you   0 comments
I'm wondering if this might be a useful tool for me. And, eventually, for Rosenfeld Media authors. Please help me try it out? Ask me a question and let's see what happens. (Hat tip to Jeff MacIntyre for sharing it with me!) …

Nov 3, 2010: Contending with a second set of silos   2 comments
Like a lot of information architects, I make a living trying to break down content silos that grow around organizational boundaries, and reorganize it in ways that respond to users' needs. In fact, if you look at the banner of my old workshop on enterprise information architecture, you'll see Kevin Cheng's drawing of me literally blowing up organizational silos. So I'm finding it ironic that in the last couple years of my career, I'm contending with a entirely new set of silos. Like content silos, these also grow organically around political divisions within an organization, and to the detriment of the organization. What's different about these silos is that they each contain a different (and incomplete) collection of user research, data, and reports. These silos are arranged by: Discipline: web analytics data here, user research data there... Application: Omniture jockeys here, SalesForce.com experts over there... Department: Marketing stuff here, Business Analysis there... There are other organizational silos like…

Oct 30, 2010: Going Beyond User Research   9 comments
Lately I've been hammering away on a lot of session and workshop descriptions. It's nice to be working on new ideas, and it's wonderful to have some great venues to try them out in. My last blog entry covered a new workshop focused on tuning an information architecture; I'll teach it in April at UX London (thanks Andy Budd and friends!). Below is a draft for a new keynote that, assuming y'all don't hate it, I'll present for the first time at UX Lisbon in May. It's a follow up to one I've given a couple times now—to mostly positive reviews—called Marrying Web Analytics and User Research. I'm trying to go a bit broader here, and I'll confess to being worried that it's just a wee bit over-ambitious. But let's see what you (and the organizer, Bruno Figueiredo) think: On Not Declaring Victory: Going Beyond User Research As user research becomes firmly established in organizations around the…

Oct 26, 2010: Does this sound like a workshop you'd like to take?   9 comments
As you can see from my recent posts, lately I've been thinking a lot about my favorite whipping boy, redesign. I'd also like to create a new workshop—one not so narrow as site search analytics or as broad as enterprise IA. (And which avoids scary terms in the title, like, um, "analytics" and "enterprise".) So I just whipped this up. I'd love your input. Like the title? The flavor? Does it make sense to you? Would you take it yourself, or what kind of person (if any) would you recommend take it? Thanks! Design to Refine: Developing a sustainable information architecture When web sites are failing, site owners do dumb things. The dumbest is also the most common: they engage in expensive, cosmetic redesigns that provide little actual benefit. Worse, these redesigns quickly go stale, and need to be repeated every few years. But there's hope: by tuning your site's information architecture, you…

Oct 25, 2010: Design is the easy part; lying and deceiving are the fun part   4 comments
Design (of all flavors) really is the easy part. Getting organizations to actually act upon design recommendations? Another story entirely. It's the story everywhere I go. In the past two weeks, for example: sitting in on Ginny Redish's workshop, discussing it with Steve Krug, talking with my own workshop attendees, working on-site with a client's team... really, anywhere there's more than one designer in the room, you know this frustrating subject will come up. How does one get an organization design-ready? We usually start by trying to change senior leaders' perspectives in two ways: by making a case with data, and by telling a story. No doubt, both approaches are worthy and worthwhile. But there's something else that we either are uncomfortable acknowledging or simply afraid to pursue: lying and deceiving. For example, I regularly counsel the teams I work with to look for opportunities to "pin down" problematic leaders in areas that are…

Oct 17, 2010: Don't advance your search; refine it   10 comments
As you can see from my last post, I'm a hater—and so are many of you (27 comments already—who says blogging is dead?). One of the pet peeves I bitched about was "advanced search," and one of you just asked me for some specific thoughts on this stinker. Here's what I replied; figured I'd repost it here, while Bloug was on the subject: Basically, it comes down to this:  "advanced search" is a bucket of miscellaneous features that your search engine provider has no idea where they should go—not surprisingly, as they 1) don't know your site, your content, and your users; and 2) they're not paid to find out and/or tell you where.  So these features—which often have diametrically opposed functions (e.g., narrow versus broaden)—get left in something of a "help ghetto".  And like any other form of help, they're pretty much useless unless contextualized:  when you get zero results, then you want help broadening, and so on. Sure,…

Oct 13, 2010: Banned terms for information architects   30 comments
I'll bet dollars to donuts that you don't go a day without encountering one of the following terms at work: redesign featured sites/resources/etc. related links advanced search building community social media (and social just about anything else) portal They're meaningless crutches; the lorem ipsums of information architecture. Really, they're worse than meaningless. They enable us to defer dealing with tough issues (e.g., "what do we really mean by a redesign anyway?"), but the difficulties don't go away. They just compound their way to another day. At a client meeting today, I did something that I've always wanted to do: I banned the term "redesign". I tried to make it fun, charging $1 if the clients said it, and $5 if I did (the money was to go to the poor temp who got stuck with the job of taking notes). Kind of like what we do at home when we swear in front of the kids. Anyway, it seemed to work; kick…

Sep 28, 2010: Site search analytics hacks   2 comments
I'm updating my site search analytics workshop slides to include some of the new content from our upcoming book. These are "hacks" that are specific to how site search analytics can help you improve your content, navigation and metadata, and search performance. If you like what you see, you should register for the October 22 workshop in Washington DC (only one I'll teach over the next six months or so): Content hacks Determining which content is the most valuable Determining which content you should get rid of Plugging content gaps Making relevant content even more relevant Learning how users understand your content Getting marketing to do the right thing Getting content owners to do the right thing Navigation and Metadata hacks Improving contextual navigation for specific types of pages Creating a better site index Creating metadata values Developing metadata attributes Testing and tuning metadata values Search hacks Plugging gaps in your search engine's index Making query entry easier by fixing "The Box" Helping searchers auto-complete their queries Accommodating strange query syntax Improving a "no results found" page Helping searchers…

Sep 13, 2010: Redish + Krug + Rosenfeld   1 comment
Steve Krug and I will be back to DC next month to teach our workshops—our only stop this season! Things will be similar to last year—I'll teach site search analytics (much updated now, as we finish the book) and Steve will teach Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing, as covered in his new book). But the really big news is that Ginny Redish, author of Letting Go of the Words, will be teaching her workshop on writing web content. If you've read Ginny's book, you know there's no one better at covering this topic. You can register for one, two, or all three workshops—the more you sign up for, the better the deal. If you register three or more attendees at a time, the deal gets even better. And of course there's an early registration discount (the deadline is September 24). Dates and details follow; we hope to see you in DC (and that you'll help spread the word)! October 20:…

Sep 13, 2010: Workshops, books, and other updates   4 comments
Summer is now officially over in this particular hemisphere; time for some updates: We have a book draft done. Yes, the search analytics book will finally come out this year! Steve Krug and I are teaming up with the mother of usability, Ginny Redish, to teach day-long workshops. We're doing a set in Washington, DC October 20-22. More details later this week; early registration closes September 24. Rosenfeld Media has signed the incomparable Caroline Jarrett to write a book on survey design. We're likely to announce at least two more book signings in the next month; very, very exciting stuff. We're also working on some other Rosenfeld Media projects that will go beyond books; more on this soon. Still finding time to work with one or two clients at a time. Need a couple days of strategic information architecture consulting this fall? Talk to me. I've been interviewed a couple times recently; once by Mari-Carmen Marcos in El…

Jul 14, 2010: Globalizing a small publishing house's site   17 comments
I've blogged recently about helping my clients address how to globalize their information architectures. You may know how much I like to eat my own dog food, so I've been wondering how Rosenfeld Media, as tiny as it is, could do a better job of engaging with UX practitioners globally. (I should note that we're already trying very hard; about 25% of our sales are outside the US, and last year we added a British fulfillment center to better serve the European market.) My current thinking came to me in a two minute stretch while showering yesterday, so take it for what it's worth. (Man, it was a nice shower though!) But the following concept seems pretty low-cost and, potentially, useful in both symbolic and concrete ways. I'd love your feedback on it: How it'd work A "friend of Rosenfeld Media" who's a native speaker of a non-English language would volunteer to do the following: Translate our tweets…

Jun 24, 2010: Go work for PayPal   0 comments
I've been consulting for the past year for PayPal. So now you know that I'm a paid shill when I encourage you (or good people that you know) to apply for their open information architect position. That said, despite some initial skepticism I am very impressed by the company. Although I'm not familiar with the salary and benefits package they're offering, I'm sure it's reasonably good, as they've managed to attract some really smart and highly motivated people. And PayPal is beginning to tackle some really meaty IA challenges that include: Centering their design efforts on a comprehensive user mental model (hooray for mental models!) Figuring out and operationalizing the measurement of their site's findability and comprehension Grappling with developing an information architecture for a truly global audience Moving to a new content management platform (that alone should keep an army of information architects busy) There's lots more going on there; I can imagine no…

Jun 14, 2010: Site Search Analytics virtual seminar (June 23)   0 comments
The fine folks at UIE have invited me to present one of their virtual seminars on June 23 at 1:30-3pm ET (GMT-5). The topic is (surprise!) site search analytics, and working with Jared Spool and Adam Churchill (and having a deadline) has whipped me into shape to pull together content not only for the seminar, but for our erstwhile book on the same topic. You can learn about the workshop by reading the UIE's description and by watching the three minute preview (via SlideShare): …

Jun 11, 2010: What would you like me to teach?   22 comments
Ever since I left the Nielsen Norman Group "world tour" in 2002, I've been tag teaming day-long workshops with Steve Krug. For most of that time, I taught Enterprise Information Architecture, which is essentially about designing and operationalizing an information architecture within large, disparate, highly-political organizations. During the past two years, I've also taught Site Search Analytics, showing how studying what your users search for on your site can directly improve its design and performance. I'll keep teaching those workshops, but something's telling me that it'd be a good idea to create a workshop simply on Information Architecture. Not necessarily for the enterprise, and not just about search. Just IA. I've got a bunch of ideas on what I might cover, but before getting into them in detail, I'd really appreciate your suggestions on what you think I should teach. Here are the ground rules: Format: Like my other workshops, it'll run a day long, with lots…

Jun 9, 2010: Globalizing an information architecture   14 comments
I'm working with a large client who is about to jump with both feet into that twilight zone of information architecture: designing for an audience that is geographically, culturally, and linguistically global. It's a huge challenge, as anyone who's worked on such a project will attest. I grappled with this issue six years ago while consulting for another multinational client, blogging about it here, here, and here (these posts are especially notable for the incredibly wise comments). Unfortunately, I've not had much opportunity to work in this space since then. In the interim, I was hoping that some brilliant cosmopolitan information architect (Peter van Dijck? Livia Labate? Jorge Arango?) would have figured this space out, but those folks are wicked busy. After some limited searching, I'm not sure we're that much further along than we were in 2004. So in the interest of resurrecting a six-year old conversation, here are some questions. I…

Jun 3, 2010: Organic interviews me   0 comments
Here 'tis. Many thanks to Organic's Anthony Viviano for the opportunity!…

May 19, 2010: Who are the most well-read UXers?   14 comments
Yesterday I performed an extremely unscientific study to determine which UX people are best-read in the field. (Methodology: tweet it from @louisrosenfeld and ask a few colleagues via email.) Here's the list: Robert Barlow-Busch Steve Baty Scott Berkun Sarah Bloomer Peter Bogaards Cennydd Bowles Carl Collins Christian Crumlish Rob Enslin Will Evans Karl Fast Ian Fenn Nick Finck Gerry Gaffney Whitney Hess Peter Jones Jan Jursa Lyle Kantrovich Katie Koch Jon Kolko Dave Malouf Jess McMullin Rachel Peters Andy Polaine Alice Preston Whitney Quesenbery Ginny Redish Andreas Resmini Lou Rosenfeld Dan Saffer Will Sansbury Dennis Schleicher David Sherwin Carolyn Snyder Eric St. Onge Mark Vander Beeken Thomas Vander Wal Chauncey Wilson Christina Wodtke Luke Wroblewski Some listed disagreed with their inclusion (myself included; hard for me to read much more than the books Rosenfeld Media publishes!). But there you have it: these are, apparently, the most well-read UXers out there. Feel free to suggest additions, of course. Better yet, suggest a better methodology for answering the question. Speaking of which, why did I ask this question? More on that later; I'm not completely sure I know the answer yet, but it'll likely have something to do…

May 3, 2010: Design Challenge: get UX books to UX events   13 comments
Every type of business has a thorn in its side. For the restauranteur, it's the health inspector. For the playwright, it's the critic. For the farmer, it's the rancher (or is it the other way around?). For the publisher, it's the conference bookseller. Granted, there's little money in it for the bookseller, and that's probably why you've noticed fewer and fewer of them at the conferences you regularly attend. But still, I hate'em: they demand a 40% discount from the publisher, sell on consignment, communicate poorly, and are notoriously slow at paying (if they pay at all) and at returning unsold books. They know little if anything about the books, the event, or its attendees. Worse for the publisher, they work differently enough at each event to totally confound the publisher who hopes to do things the same way for all events. Cut out the middleman, then! But how? Well, that's where…

Apr 14, 2010: To-do list for next IA Summit   18 comments
So I'm the guy who raised concerns about the IA Summit's format. (Yes, this one went to eleven!) First: don't take this screed the wrong way—it was easily one of the best programs we've had yet. But attendance numbers continue to lag, and I'd rather get in front of what could become a much bigger problem. I'm very grateful to Jenn, Abby, Dick, Vanessa, and everyone else who made 2010 happen; like them, I just want the Summit to continue and thrive. Using the all-powerful Twitter, I pulled together an informal flex track discussion nicely summarized by Red Molly. We ranged from format to content to the competition to an oldie but goodie, the bizarre ASIS&T/IA Summit/IA Institute love/hate triangle that I'm apparently the only person who understands (which isn't surprising as I'm probably more to blame than anyone else). About thirty of us went at it; as Red said, productive but not conclusive. Here are…

Mar 25, 2010: See you in Old Ann Arbor?   1 comment
Sorry so little blogging of late. Busy as hell pontificating and such over at Twitter (both @louisrosenfeld and @rosenfeldmedia; I guess I was meant to communicate in 140 or fewer characters. (I'll admit, it is quite liberating!) In general, I'm busy as hell, and many things are falling off the plate. Tweeting aside, I still do have a day job or three. One is teaching my full-day workshops. I've got two coming up next week in my old, wonderful hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, sponsored by the Merit Network. On Tuesday March 30, I'm bringing back (by popular demand! I've always wanted to say that) my "Enterprise Information Architecture: Because users don't care about your org chart" seminar. I think I retired it prematurely; it seems more relevant today than ever. And on Wednesday, March 31, I'll teach my "Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience" workshop, with fresh stuff as…

Feb 9, 2010: Three quick things   0 comments
Apparently I'm now a movie star. Jennifer Anniston, a dinosaur family, lots of clay and Lego, and Jesse James Garrett and me somehow add up to what's something like Flickr's top video of the past few days. Added bonus: information architecture gets defined. Sort of. Anyway, many thanks to Nate Bolt and Tony Tulathimutte for shining their bright lights on me. Speaking of whom, the cat's out of the bag. Formal publication announcement later this week, but we've already sold close to a hundred today. Yes, I'm biased, but yes, it's really quite good. Finally, Etre has created an easy-to-enter contest. The prize: a free ticket to attend Steve Krug's and my London workshops (March 1 and 2). Enter now; it expires on Sunday. …

Jan 28, 2010: No use case necessary   6 comments
Given that it's now the official national craze, I too will ruminate on the iPad... I don't think that there's a clear use case for something that's small but not as small as a phone, and useful but not as useful as a laptop. (Best effort in a weak field to define the use case so far comes from Luke Wroblewski: "a digital version of your leisure time activities".) But that doesn't matter. It's relatively easy for Apple to create a new platform. There are already plenty of apps out there that will run on it, and the developer community will soon provide us with many, many more. It's what they do. And although only a small subset of those apps will provide any compelling value, only a small subset of those eventual thousands of apps needs to work. All Apple has to do is provide the platform, and make sure that it works well enough to…

Jan 19, 2010: London, a word please   2 comments
The early bird registration deadline is coming up (January 31) for the Etre workshops that Steve Krug and I will be teaching in London at the ICA (March 1 and 2). If you don't mind, a word: There are a lot of great opportunities to take good UX-related workshops in and around London. Why come to these? Well, Steve Krug is simply fantastic. What can I say? We've been on the road for seven years, and every time I pop into his workshop, people are absolutely engaged: talking, interacting with each other and with Steve. (He's nice enough to say similar things about my workshop.) Did you think I was going to say rapt? Worshipful? Well, they are, which is what you'd expect with one of the Three Gods of Usability. And they're entertained as well: Steve is even funnier in person. (Added bonus: Steve's new workshop matches his…

Jan 19, 2010: Site search best practices   21 comments
A client recently asked me to help come up with a list of "world-class" implementations of site search. "World-class" is always a red flag term for me, because it's a crutch term that suggests that there isn't a clear idea of what constitutes actual quality. (Ergo, it should be banned, like "redesign" and "building community".) So, being the annoying consultant that I am, I gently scolded them, saying that there wasn't one ideal or even optimal local search implementation. But there were some principles worth considering. Here's my first stab; given that these took only a few minutes, I'll likely add more: Keep the initial query entry UI simple Make sure it's persistent in location on pages, and that it's on all pages Support query refinement (and avoid "advanced search" UIs) Repeat a query back in the refinement UI and display # of search results Provide refinement options that fit the need (e.g., don't provide options that narrow result sets when 0…

Dec 7, 2009: A Union Index?   12 comments
I've been kicking around an odd idea ever since starting Rosenfeld Media—the idea of a union index, a compilation of all of our books' indices. Now that we've actually got a few books out (#6 is due in about six weeks), it's time to revisit the idea and consider the indices' collective potential. Want to help me figure it out? First, imagine a single, combined index—possibly a single page—that'd reference whichever books where an index entry occurred. Then picture the ability to filter that index by individual title. Now we're ready for some questions: Does it make sense to put an individual book index on the web? Each Rosenfeld Media book has its own web site, and we already make each book's tables of contents, FAQs, and other materials available. Would there be additional utility in viewing a book's index? Coming from a background in librarianship, I know that there are a few index fetishists among…

Nov 16, 2009: Updates on new books and workshops   1 comment
So much going on right now—good stuff, really—but not much time to tend to Bloug. So just a few notes for now: Rosenfeld Media just published its fifth book: Todd Zaki Warfel's Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide. I'm thrilled with Todd's work; this is a hugely practical take on a hugely practical topic, and Todd will show you how to prototype from low-tech approaches (e.g., paper) to high-tech (e.g., Axure). And it's on sale now! Our sixth title is just around the corner, and it could be a real game-changer for the user research community. I've read the draft of Nate Bolt and Tony Tulathimutte's Remote Research: Real Users, Real Time, Real Research, and it's amazing. Sign up here to receive early notice of its availability for purchase (as well as a discount). In March I'll be returning to old Ann Arbor (outside Detroit, Michigan) for something of a homecoming: the Merit Network will have…

Sep 30, 2009: Early regi deadlines for my fall workshops   0 comments
Howdy; just a reminder that the early registration deadline for the Seattle edition of my workshop on site search analytics is this Friday, October 2. The workshop takes place on Thursday October 29; Steve Krug's new workshop on do-it-yourself usability testing follows on the very next day. Steve and I will also tag team in Washington, DC, November 9-10; the early registration deadline is October 9. If you'd like to get a taste of what I'll cover, check out my slides on SlideShare or read my contribution to the recent special issue of A List Apart, which was devoted to site search analytics. One more note worth mentioning: my workshops have been described as "wonderfully intimate". I've always assumed that's how workshops ought to be, but apparently that's not always the case. So, like it or not, you'll get a healthy dose of contact with moi if you attend. OK, what are you waiting for; go and register! Hope to see you in Seattle…

Sep 13, 2009: Disaster Planning for the IA Community   1 comment
It's been a year since the financial meltdown. And it's got me wondering: how hard have information architects been hit? I have plenty of anecdotal information, but really, I don't feel confident in saying that this has or hasn't been a disaster for the IA community. But it's clearly been a disaster for the many, many individual information architects and fellow travelers that have lost their sources of income. Which gets me thinking: how might we work as a community to blunt, if not avert, professional disasters large and small? Some ill-formed ideas follow; while you have a look, consider what you might need if and when you lose your job or consulting work. I know you'll come up with better ideas than these: Misery loves company. We need to know that we're not alone in our situations, especially if it's one of those "large disasters". Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks provide us…

Sep 8, 2009: The curation candidates   2 comments
They're all wonderful candidates, and naturally it's hard to chose. So I voted for the candidates that are not going to try to change the way that information architects think, or are thought of by the outside world. That's not something a small board can do. Ever. Instead, I voted for the people who seem most likely to build and maintain the community's infrastructure to enable more bottom-up work to succeed. I want the Information Architecture Institute to help information architects and fellow travelers to engage with each other, and provide them with supporting tools and resources so they can accomplish Big Ideas that serve the community. Top-down efforts are so limited and limiting, and a board is only in place for a short while. So it's better for the board to invest its top-down energy in tuning and improving the infrastructure that is the IAI, and keeping it flexible and responsive to the community's needs, rather than attempting…

Aug 28, 2009: This one goes to eleven   0 comments
That's right. Eleventh IA Summit. Phoenix, April 7-11. Here's the call for participation.…

Aug 26, 2009: Can we talk? (and why? and how?)   9 comments
One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 was to talk regularly with UX practitioners. Since then, I've been organizing monthly UX book salons. For the most part, we've discussed the format and presentation of UX books—which of their features you like, which you don't, and how they can be improved, as well as what sort of topics you'd like to see addressed. So far, these salons have taken place in person—at conferences like the IA Summit and UPA, and when I'm not on the road, in NYC-area conference rooms supplied by some very nice people at companies like Huge, Google NYC, and Bond Art & Science. I like to think that my heart is in the right place—after all, how many publishers actually sit down with their community on a monthly basis? But I've executed the idea poorly. I'm looking for your input on how these salons might be more engaging and, ultimately, more valuable…

Aug 26, 2009: iPhone apps: what you suggested   0 comments
My first iPhone arrived about three weeks ago. I say first because, given my experience with the quality of Apple hardware, I'm sure I'll be replacing it before too long. Durability fears aside, it's really been a joy. I won't rehash what's been said often and better, but I'll attest that perhaps its greatest strength is as a device for coping with waiting. I was at the local package shipper yesterday, and waited for almost 20 minutes as the clerk futzed with a horrible Fedex interface, trying to massage an odd hyphen into the middle of a building number. Normally this would drive me nuts. But no worries; I checked my mail, exercised my brain with a game of Word Warp, and wasted a few minutes in Tweetdeck. I've certainly had less productive 20 minute segments. So maybe we should reclassify this device as a blood pressure manager? That'd be nice; then I could pay…

Aug 24, 2009: Let's just stick with the ugly   1 comment
The guy behind this deserves a lot more attention (his cartoons are hilarious as well): Sorry for the light posting schedule. I'm busy as hell, despite it being August 24. Guess I'm supposed to be at the beach, but summer's over as far as I can tell.…

Jul 2, 2009: Upcoming talks: Brooklyn, Seattle, DC   0 comments
Steve Krug and now have our fall workshop schedule settled. You might not know, but Steve is working on a new (and much anticipated) book on DIY usability testing; that's what he's covering in his new workshop. I've been tuning my site search analytics for UX workshop; the attendees in London last May seemed to like it quite a bit. We'll be in Seattle October 29-30, and in Washington, DC November 9-10; registration is now open (there are discounts if you register for both, register three or more, or register before the early bird deadline). I'll also be keynoting the first Delve event, here in Brooklyn, on August 5. I'll continue Marrying Web Analytics and User Experience until they give in, fall in love, and produce dozens of robust children.…

Jul 1, 2009: Shame and disgust   27 comments
Stumbled across this brief article about a new CIO at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. CIO Roger Baker's "...plan will require managers to deliver systems and applications incrementally, rather than all at once. If managers miss three key milestones, he will take steps such as stopping program development, analyzing and fixing problems, or even firing contractors if things appear to get out of hand." Holy crap. They'll even fire a contractor? Good God. But though I snark away, there but for the grace of that Good God go I. I used to do a little IA consulting for the VA. My client was wonderful, as were some of his colleagues. Most of the people I encountered there, however, were what you'd expect to find within a large, highly dysfunctional agency: water-treaders that were counting the days until they could retire. And you could hardly blame them. But there were a few that were so completely pernicious…

Jun 15, 2009: Beyond berrypicking   3 comments
A colleague asks: I need to gather some evidence of user behaviour with regards to site search, namely 'browse vs search'. Do you know of any recent research papers that show a trend towards people preferring to search a website, rather than navigate? If so, what are the common themes? Does it depend on the type of user, the type of site, etc? Great question. I always refer people to Marcia Bates' seminal work on berrypicking, which defuses the versus part of "browse versus search," as it well should. But it's now twenty years old; any other, more recent suggestions?…

Jun 11, 2009: Main page malaise, part 17   1 comment
Fast Company recycles some coverage of the American Airlines main page dustup. Interesting discussion in the comments section, worth checking out. But I can't help but thinking that they're spending way too much time kvetching about the main page at the expense of improving the UX of all those other pages. Advice to American Airilnes UX team: let your pain in the ass stakeholders fight over the main page: while they're distracted, you go and fix the rest of the site. After all, it's important too.…

Jun 5, 2009: Dear Content Strategists   12 comments
Dear Content Strategists: Well done. You guys are fantastic. You've got some great leaders among you, and more importantly, you seem to be generating a lot of meaningful grass roots activity. The world really needs you, and you're poised to achieve some big things over the next couple years. Just don't screw it up, OK? And how might you screw it up? By falling back on old models that make it hard to do new things. By doing it yourself, except when you ought to do it yourself. And most of all, by not using your imagination. Here are some suggestions, annoyingly unsolicited, based on a skewed interpretation of past community building experiences, and, most likely, completely worthless. But you've been on mind of late and it's my damned blog, so here goes: Watch your language: framing is critical early on. That's my way of saying that you'd be making a huge mistake…

May 26, 2009: The user research dashboard   3 comments
Just a few partly-formed thoughts about reports, the kind that make sense of user research of both the web analytics and user experience varieties, and how they might be integrated: Reports should be built around questions. Really, reports should be answers to questions. Of all the cool dataviz work that Jeff Veen and his team did for Google Analytics, bringing the questions to the fore was their most impressive and useful achievement. But even well-designed reports are of limited value if they're just reports of one variety. If you think analytics app when you hear the word "report," you're not getting the full picture. Ditto that if you think of reports that pretty much come from your user studies. And so on. What we really need are ways to integrate reports from these sources and more. Envision a dashboard that provides access to your analytics reports, help desk log reports, task analysis testing reports, reports from surveys,…

May 16, 2009: User experience and web analytics   4 comments
As part of my work on the site search analytics book, I've begun learning about the way that web analytics people, like my co-author, Marko Hurst, think. It's different than us user experience people, and quite complementary. In fact, though it's added some lag to finishing the book, I think the final product will be much better. I have half a brain, Marko has a different half, and both are needed. So I've begun to make the case for a more unified practice of web analytics and user experience. In fact, doing one without the other is probably a short-term waste of resources and a long-term recipe for your product or service becoming obsolete. I've started to scratch the surface in a presentation given a week or so ago at the Janus Boye Philadelphia conference and, earlier today, at the IA Konferenz in Hamburg (Keynote slides below). One issue that came up at today's talk: we…

May 14, 2009: It's here!   0 comments
...and it's lovely: Donna Spencer's Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories. Yes, it took a while; perhaps Rosenfeld Media is the publishing equivalent of the Slow Food Movement. But good things come to those who wait; more info here.…

May 13, 2009: Drinks in London   0 comments
On May 20th, at the conclusion of my European speakathon, I'll be enjoying myself at the Happy Hour that our London hosts, Etre, are organizing: Can't make it to Etre Get Together 2009? Fancy sinking a few pints with Lou Rosenfeld, Steve Krug and Etre anyway? Then join us at LVPO in London's bustling Soho district on Wednesday, 20th May, 2009 (from 5.30pm) for beer, snacks and hot UX-related chitchat. Important note: Entry is free but by guest list only—so RSVP to gettogether2009@etre.com to reserve your place/bar stool. And, um, there are still some open seats for my Site Search Analytics workshop (earlier that day in London, May 20). And my Enterprise IA seminar (Hamburg, May 18).…

May 6, 2009: Popular UX books   2 comments
Here's one way to look at them: following are the titles that are most commonly being discussed by the planet's many UX Book Clubs (I'm reproducing the list here for historical purposes; the live version is here): Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton (Sydney, Melbourne, London, Israel, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Twin_Cities, Washington DC) Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug (Canberra, Memphis, Los_Angeles, Boston) Mental Models by Indi Young (Boston, Brisbane, New York, Portland) Subject to Change by Peter Merholz et al (New York, Richmond VA, Boston, Sydney) Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter (Sydney, Chicago, Glasgow) The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam (Silicon Valley, Portland) The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (Chicago, Dallas) …

Apr 23, 2009: Top Google Results: Who, What, Where, Why, When and How   0 comments
Just because it's bizarre and because I thought it'd be interesting to check, here is the first (I think) Official Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How of Google (as of April 24, 2009): Who: WHO | World Health Organization (OK, this one was pretty predictable) What: What Really Happened: the history the US government hopes you never learn! (cuh-reepy site!) Where: WHERE GPS Mobile Application, iPhone App & Location Based Services Development Platform (ho hum) Why: WHY? on MySpace Music (Oakland, California-based indie band; they look earnest and hirsute... earsute?) When: The Death Clock--When am I going to die? (actuarial's wet dream; and I thought "what" was creepy) How: HOW Design--The leading creativity, business and technology magazine for Graphic Designers (hmmm, maybe I can get them to review some Rosenfeld Media books?) OK, will try this silly little exercise again in a year or so...…

Apr 15, 2009: Visiting London and Hamburg in May   2 comments
I have a pretty insane travel schedule next month. I'll be in Hamburg May 15-19, and London from May 19-21. MJ won't talk to me, Iris pouts, and little Nate spits up on me whenever the subject comes up. Plus I'll be working hard all day on my birthday (May 20). So, EuroUXers, please make it worth my while by showing up at one of my talks. I thank you, my family thanks you. Here's the schedule: May 16: I'll be keynoting the Deutsche IA Konferenz. I'm looking forward to catching up with the other speakers, including Peter Van Dijck, Peter Boersma, and Andrea Resmini. May 18: I teach my day-long Enterprise Information Architecture Seminar for the first time in Europe since 2003. Jim Kalbach will be teaching two very interesting workshops on ethnography and personas the next two days; we'll both be hosted by Karen Lindemann of Netflow, one…

Apr 2, 2009: Very happy to announce...   0 comments
...a new Rosenfeld Media book: Nathan Shedroff's Design Is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable. Read all about it here. …

Mar 31, 2009: marry me plz   2 comments
There I am, always desperate for love. I'm actually showing off the cufflinks—ducklinks, actually—that Mags Hanley and the rest of the wonderful IA Summit committee presented to me for hanging around for so long. What I really could have used was a better haircut, but I'm thankful nonetheless. By the way, it's not just the cufflinks; check out the lower left of the photo and you'll see that even the damned butter pats at the Peabody are shaped like ducks.…

Mar 30, 2009: Stop Listening to People like Me   29 comments
I guess that history degree was useful after all Back in the mid '80s, long before I was a naive publisher, I was a naive undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, where I took as many courses as was permitted from J. Mills Thornton, a student of C. Vann Woodward (what's with the initialed first names?), a tenured professor of US history, and a favorite son of Mobile, Alabama.…

Mar 26, 2009: Bringing academics and practitioners together   11 comments
At last week's IA Summit, I was talking with the wonderful Gary Marchionini, who helped program the first two Summits and who is now ASIS&T President. (It was a wonderful surprise to run into him in Memphis; eight years is way too long!) We were discussing a question that comes up just about any time I talk with an ASIS&T person: how could we bring together IA practitioners with old guard ASIS&T folks, many of whom are academics. This question was at the genesis of the first IA Summit, back in 2000. At that first event, there was some electricity between the groups, but by 2001 it had petered out, and we've been trying to recapture it ever since. Gary and I shot some ideas around, and I suggested one that I wanted to share here. I'm wondering if 1) it makes any sense and 2) if so, whether there are some useful models that you might…

Mar 18, 2009: Marrying Web Analytics and User Experience   5 comments
Yes, I'm still working on that book. But I don't feel too bad about it taking so long. I've learned quite a bit about site search analytics in the process, and the book will be much better for it. I've also started working with Marko Hurst, my new co-author, who adds a different dimension to the topic: while I'm a UX person being pulled toward analytics, Marko is an analytics person who has become expert in UX. An unexpected outcome of working with a quant like Marko is that I have a much better understanding of how analytics people use data. While we UXers look for patterns to emerge from the data—a bottom-up process—Web Analytics pros start with metrics and do their analysis from the top down. (And one might argue that most of us start in the wrong place—canned reports—that constitute the middle ground.) Combining the top-down and bottom-up approaches might lead to a new…

Mar 18, 2009: #10   0 comments
Yow. Headed to my tenth IA Summit. I'm thrilled that we've gotten this far; kudos to all the folks running the show, especially Samantha Bailey and Jennifer Bombach and, of course, Dick Hill. But really, I'm quite bummed. The opening night reception is one of the highlights of the year for me. Until now it's always been held on the opening night. Which has always been a Friday. I didn't catch this year's change, so I'm showing up on Friday, missing out on all the fun. Dammit. So a simple request to those of you who will be there and think of it: take a shot of yourself at the reception and send it to/post it for me. Wave, make the Sign of The Dyspeptic Polar Bear, whatever. It'd mean a lot to me. I get in Friday afternoon and leave Sunday afternoon; grab me to talk IA and UX stuff, especially books…

Mar 8, 2009: The SXSW Virgin   0 comments
I'm headed to my first one this week. I guess it's about time. Of course, I'm now in my mid-40s, which means I'm officially too old to party all night long, or even for more than two consecutive hours. (And I'm not sure about any of this being "official" so much as a function of physics.) Nonetheless, I soldier on. And even seek enlightenment; in fact, I've set up a Twitter hash tag (#sxswvirgins) so the uninitiated like myself can learn from the masters. Feel free to post recommendations here or there.…

Feb 10, 2009: Engagement and stakeholding. And steak.   5 comments
Yesterday morning I was lugging a suitcase homeward, still bleary from a red-eye flight from Vancouver, where I'd attended the interaction'09 conference. Although I felt like hell, clearly I looked like a giant of industry, or at least a man of reasonable means, as I was approached by a fellow who asked me, "Hey, chief, want to buy some steaks?" Raw steak. On Seventh Avenue. In the morning. Oh well, you've gotta admire the entrepreneurial instinct, however misplaced. But the funny thing was that I'd just been thinking about steaks. Well, to be honest, stakes, as in stakeholding. At the conference, I'd been explaining the Rosenfeld Media publishing model to a dozen or so prospective authors. I kept returning to the words "engagement" and "stakeholding". I explained that one of our major goals is to engage with all sorts of people—practitioners, influencers, subject matter experts, and more—so that they'd have a stake in each…

Jan 20, 2009: IA Summit program now available   0 comments
And then there were ten: check out the fantastic program assembled for the 2009 IA Summit (yes, our tenth!). It takes place in Memphis (home to Elvis and ancient Greeks), March 20-22; pre-conferences are March 18-19. See you there.…

Jan 15, 2009: UX webinars galore   0 comments
We've just announced five new Future Practice user experience webinars ("we" being Smart Experience and Rosenfeld Media). Great practical topics, great presenters (Christian Rohrer, Bill Scott, Kristina Halvorson, Ginny Redish, and John Ferrara). More coming; this will be a monthly thing. Check them out and register here.…

Jan 9, 2009: UX explained for non-UXers   1 comment
Whitney Hess pulls it off in this Mashable article, with a little help from her (many) friends.…

Jan 8, 2009: Engaging with UX publishers   12 comments
Hoping to make it easier to track (and crowdsource) UX publishing-related questions, comments, suggestions, and conversations with this Twitter hash tag: #uxpub. Don't intend this just for Rosenfeld Media stuff. There are lots of UX publishers out there, and it wouldn't be a bad idea for us to be in touch with each other and with our community in a little more explicit manner than we have to date. Here's my back of the envelope list of UX-related publishers: A List Apart Boxes and Arrows Digital Web Johnny Holland Morgan-Kaufmann O'Reilly Media Peachpit/New Riders Rosenfeld Media Smashing Magazine UX Magazine UXmatters …

Dec 1, 2008: Noodling (socially)...   1 comment
...with creating Rosenfeld Media groups for both Facebook and LinkedIn. Now don't get me wrong. Apples and oranges. I really love both services. And Christina, who's now at LinkedIn. They'd better be paying her really, really well. But it's definitely easier to get going virally in Facebook. About 70 fans in about four hours, and a few helpful comments. In fact, the process of figuring out how to get it set up was aided quite a bit by a few of my 200 plus Facebook friends. In LinkedIn, I have about 500 contacts. But, um, they're not friends. At least they don't feel that way. Sure, it's a business network, but I don't feel like there's anyone I can turn to for help. And it's far, far harder to invite those contacts to join. Both services have their respective benefits. Sometimes a tighter, more restrictive network has its purposes. And it's far…

Nov 20, 2008: Remote user research book   0 comments
I'm pretty jazzed that Rosenfeld Media has signed a new book: Remote Research by Nate Bolt and Tony Tulathimutte. I'm convinced that more and more user research will be done remotely in the coming years, and we really need a book—this book—to guide us. Here's the full announcement: We've been working on getting Nate Bolt and Tony Tulathimutte to write a book on remote user research for a couple years now. Through their work at Bolt | Peters, purveyors of Ethnio, a remote research service, they've become experts at leveraging new technologies to study users in their native habitats. Well, we've finally succeeded, and Remote Research is now officially a Rosenfeld Media book-in-progress site! We're quite excited by their proposal; you can get a taste of what they'll cover from its full description and tentative table of contents. Aside from visiting the site, you can also keep up with their progress by subscribing to their site's RSS feed. Or if…

Nov 17, 2008: More mental models   0 comments
Just published Victor Lombardi's interview with Indi Young on the cutting edge of mental models. Obviously we're doing this to crassly promote our upcoming webinar with Indi. But hey, we did include a 20% discount on the page. If you've already read Indi's book, you'll see from reading the interview that the webinar takes mental models beyond what she covered in the book. And if you haven't, well, the registration fee includes a copy of the book—and you should have more than enough time to read it before December 11.…

Nov 14, 2008: Resolution for 2009: UX Book Salon tour   0 comments
Even though the Christmas decorations are just starting to appear here in Brooklyn, it's not too soon to make a New Year's Resolution. When I started Rosenfeld Media, I set up a few brown bag lunches with groups of designers and researchers from a few local UX firms. I was looking to learn more about what our target audience liked and didn't like about the design of the books they used for their work. I asked them to bring their own books to the discussion. The resulting show and tell discussions were fantastically useful, and had a significant impact on the designs of both our digital and paperback editions. (Notes on these discussions here.) Just as important, these discussions provided an outlet for some intense, passionate discussions about UX books, their designs, and their topics. UX pros' pent-up feelings clearly needed to be expressed, and it was enlightening for everyone involved. Unfortunately, once Rosenfeld…

Nov 9, 2008: Luke on the future of web form design   0 comments
This past weekend I interviewed Luke Wroblewski about gradual engagement and other issues at the cutting edge of web form design. He'll be covering this topic in great detail during his webinar (coming up this Thursday, November 13). Check out the interview and snag a 20% discount off the registration fee.…

Nov 5, 2008: How I'm feeling this morning   4 comments
I still can't quite believe that the US has elected an African-American president. I was thinking about this while making breakfast this morning for Iris, who's not quite five. When I was her age, the US was only a few years removed from the thick of the civil rights movement. The kinks were still being worked out of African-American voter enfranchisement. King had been dead for about a year. Nixon was perfecting his Southern Strategy. And busing was about to become a hugely divisive issue, with five year olds as pawns. I broke down. Iris isn't used to seeing her dad this way. I explained to her as best I could that some really bad things, like slavery, had happened in this country. She had a hard time understanding why African-American kids weren't allowed to go to school, or why they had to work instead of play. I couldn't bear to tell her…

Nov 4, 2008: Voting at PS282, Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, USA   4 comments
Can you tell who my presidential pick is (as if it wasn't already obvious)?…

Oct 31, 2008: Join me and Steve Krug for drinks in DC   0 comments
Will Evans was kind enough to organize an IxDA happy hour while Steve and I are in DC on November 11. The details are here. And of course, there are seats left for our workshops... Happy Halloween!…

Oct 30, 2008: Feedburner expert in the house?   3 comments
Feedburner has suddenly decided that my various Rosenfeld Media feeds have many fewer subscribers than they did not long ago. Argh. I don't get it, and it looks like a long and bitter trail through their forums and help material to get an answer, if there is one. I'd be glad to barter a couple books for some help from someone who has some insight into the how and why of Feedburner. Please let me know if you might be able to enlighten me.…

Oct 29, 2008: Now publishing... webinars!   2 comments
For a year or two—even before Rosenfeld Media actually had published a book—I've been wanting to extend our scope to webinars. It seems like such a natural complement to book publishing. Books alone are, well, books. Books and webinars? Now you're talking content ecosystem. Authors who've assembled content for their books have at least one webinar in them. Some topics don't merit book treatment, but definitely make sense as webinars. And when we're not sure, we can test topics (and people) out with the webinar format before committing to a book, which is far more expensive to produce. This ecosystem discussion is, not surprisingly, very publisher-centric. But what do customers get out of webinars? That's still very much an open question. And personally, I've had mixed reactions to webinars, both as a customer and as a speaker. But I'm optimistic. Not only is the technology becoming far better and cheaper, but…

Oct 14, 2008: Friday is the early bird deadline for me in DC   0 comments
My one and only fall workshop on Site Search Analytics takes place on November 11 in Washington, DC (and Steve Krug will be teaching there the next day). Our early registration deadline is this Friday (October 17). I'm amassing some great information from researching the book, and the workshop is chock full of practical, actionable advice. Here's the deck from last spring's version: Site Search Analytics Workshop PresentationView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: experience design user experience) …

Oct 3, 2008: Back to the book   2 comments
I'm back to working hard on the site search analytics book, now with a new co-author, Marko Hurst. More here.…

Oct 2, 2008: Interviewed by E-consultancy   0 comments
E-consultancy just interviewed me about one of my favorite topics, site search analytics. Many thanks to Richard Maven for the excellent questions. In my last answer, I let slip some big news on the site search analytics book front; more on that soon...…

Sep 23, 2008: Free IDEA 2008 registration!   2 comments
Subscribe to the low-traffic, highly informative, and occasionally entertaining Rosenfeld Media announcements list by September 29 and you'll be entered our IDEA 2008 raffle. Details here.…

Sep 22, 2008: Writing checks   0 comments
Today my bookkeeper Eloise and I calculated Indi and Luke's royalty checks. I actually got a little choked up. Not because I was sad to see that money readying its departure from the Rosenfeld Media bank account. (Though I was.) But because we were paying our first two royalty checks, because we've sold enough to pay so soon, because the books are wonderful and the authors are deserving, and because the checks are big enough that Luke and Indi should at least buy a round next time you see them at the bar. (Maybe you'll catch them at one of these events.) It's a great feeling, not unlike when Argus made its first payroll. I hope we can keep it up.…

Sep 17, 2008: Chicago workshops early registration deadline   2 comments
Want to join Steve and me in Chicago on October 16-17? Then please register here by this Friday to receive the early bird discount.…

Sep 15, 2008: Go away for a long weekend sans connectivity...   3 comments
...and another "Defining the damn thing" discussion about IA breaks out on the IAI-members list. Only this time, thanks to Jorge Arango, there's an interesting and useful artifact from the discussion.…

Sep 10, 2008: The book I've apparently always been looking for   1 comment
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000A0F6O0/…

Sep 9, 2008: Discount for An Event Apart   0 comments
One of the nicest things about moving in New York has been getting to know Jeffrey Zeldman of A List Apart/Designing with Web Standards/Happy Cog fame. I spoke at his conference, An Event Apart ("the design conference for people who make websites"), a year or so ago, and it was a wonderfully-produced event. AEA takes place once more this year, in Chicago October 13-14 (just before Steve Krug and I do our thing there on October 16-17). Jeffrey's kindly offering a special discount to Friends of Steve and Lou; just use the discount code AEASKLR when you register and you'll save $100 off the registration price. Thanks Jeffrey! While we're on the subject of events: lookit all the wonderful places Rosenfeld Media authors are speaking at during the next few months... You'll see some more discounts listed there too.…

Aug 27, 2008: Fall workshops in Chicago and Washington, DC   0 comments
Steve Krug and I are at it again. We'll be teaching our new workshops this fall in Chicago (October 16/17) and Washington, DC (November 11/12). We're offering discounts for early registration, for groups of three or more, and for signing up for both days. More info here. I must say, it's been fun to assemble an entirely new workshop (I just started teaching this one in the spring). When you teach the same class for many years, like my old enterprise IA seminar, it tends to get overloaded and difficult to squeeze into one day. I centered the new one from the start around hands-on exercises and discussion. Of course, it's still hard to squeeze into one day. But so far the evaluations have been good. Many say it's one of those topics that they didn't realize they needed to know about, and are now glad that they do. Not that I'm…

Aug 26, 2008: Nate the Great   0 comments
Pushing ten weeks and 14 pounds... More photos here.…

Aug 20, 2008: Must... kill...   3 comments
I've long advocated for banning the term "redesign" from design discussions. (Crazy me, but I just think it's a good idea to keep clear of time-boxed projects that are ill-conceived and ultimately a waste of effort and money.) I think terms like "refine" and "tune" do a far better job of describing what we should be doing: instituting ongoing processes that help our sites evolve in response to a multitude of changing variables. I hate to sound like a fascist, but I think "build community" ought to be the next one we throw on the pyre. Dunno, maybe I've read too many RFPs of late, but what the hell is it supposed to mean? Is it truly achievable? Is it even a good idea? How many organizations really want a community on their hands to repeatedly feed, burp, and diaper? I think what we mean is that we want to "better engage with…

Aug 14, 2008: Interviewed in IDJ   4 comments
Saul Carliner was kind enough to interview me for the latest issue of the Information Design Journal. If only it was online...…

Jul 29, 2008: Another book signing: Nathan Shedroff on sustainable design   0 comments
I'll once again plagiarize my announcement over at the Rosenfeld Media site. But first: Nathan Shedroff is a truly outstanding person. And there's really no design topic that's more important than sustainability. Wow. I. Am. Thrilled. OK, here's the announcement: Four years ago, Peter Morville rolled out the user experience honeycomb, with its seven facets of UX. Since then, there's been something of a cottage industry of suggesting new facets (all of which, unfortunately, throw off the geometry of Peter's elegant hexagon). Perhaps it's time to consider adding yet another facet: sustainability. What and how we design has implications, especially when our designs are ultimately fabricated, transported, and physically consumed. In this time of post-peak oil and environmental worries, designers have an even greater responsibility to consider how our work impacts our planet. That's why Rosenfeld Media will be publishing Nathan Shedroff's newest book, "Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must be Sustainable". It's a…

Jul 29, 2008: My life comes crashing down   1 comment
On the other hand, it's been a great boon to my personal productivity so far. The story from Mashable.…

Jul 15, 2008: New RM book signing: Kevin Cheng on comics   0 comments
I'm quite excited about this one. In the interests of efficiency, I'll just steal the announcement from the Rosenfeld Media site: Many in the user experience world are become quite familiar with Kevin Cheng's wit and perspective through OK/Cancel, the brilliant comic strip he co-creates with Tom Chi (more about Kevin here.) Now we'll get to delve further into Kevin's creative mind: he's agreed to write See What I Mean: How to Use Comics to Communicate Ideas for Rosenfeld Media. Kevin and I have been bouncing around this book idea for years, and I'm thrilled that we'll have an opportunity to work together. Many recognize that comics are a powerful design tool, but assume they need to be artists to create comics. Through his workshops Kevin has been disproving that assumption for years, and now his book will do the same for a wider audience. See What I Mean will teach anyone, regardless of drawing ability, how to use comics to…

Jul 12, 2008: After the deluge, a question   12 comments
Nate's now over three weeks old and entering that state of fat and (mostly) happy. MJ and I are tired but doing well, and Iris is doing a bang-up job as big sister-in-chief. If you've been around a newborn for any amount of time, you quickly realize that wearing shirts other than white or off-white is a pointless pursuit: most of what goes down inevitably comes up. It's also summer in NYC, so my wardrobe consists exclusively of shorts, white T-shirts, and cheap sandals. That'd be fine, if I hadn't realized—at a way-too-early hour this morning, while feeding Nate—that that's essentially my normal wardrobe. And then it dawned on me: I'm 43 years old. And I still dress like I'm 23. That really ought to change. Once the weather cools down a bit, at which point Nate's digestive tract should have matured, I've got to upgrade my wardrobe. So, my question: where do…

Jun 20, 2008: I'm Lou Rosenfeld and I approved this message   15 comments
Mary Jean, who's always been the best writer in the family, writes: Nathaniel Oscar Rosenfeld was born Wednesday, June 18, at the extremely hospitable hour of 2:54 p.m. He was a strapping 8 pounds 6 ounces, and within minutes of emerging had figured out where the snack bar was, so we expect that number to stay impressive. After the world's longest pregnancy (27 years), everything went about perfectly with the labor and birth. That kid was so overripe he fell right off the tree. Iris is crazy about having a little bother brother. When Lou called her after the birth, I could hear her scream with excitement, through his phone, from six feet away. She suggested we use her middle name, Rachel, as his too, but we decided that a little individuality would be a good thing for both of them. Check them both out here. We're trying to remember how to do this infant thing again, but have…

Jun 10, 2008: One of these things is not...   3 comments
McCain's web team must have since been shamed into fixing their site's information architecture, because "Golf Gear" is no longer one of its four main tabs. But there's a screen grab over at Talking Points Memo...…

May 27, 2008: Questions for IA/IM vendors   1 comment
Occasionally I help my clients find consulting firms for information architecture and information management projects. Here's how I help: Establish an overall hiring process Develop RFPs Assemble an initial list of potential vendors Review proposals Develop short list selection criteria Come up with (and ask) questions for the interviews of short list candidates Develop systems for evaluating proposals and presentations Because I'm such a swell guy, I've decided to share a general set of interview questions below. Hopefully some Bloug readers might find these helpful to consider when hiring a vendor. Chime in with others you think should be added...…

May 13, 2008: Come be happy   0 comments
Steve Krug and I are in Chicago this week to teach our day-long workshops (me on Thursday, and Steve on Friday). Roundarch has kindly agreed to sponsor and organize a happy hour in concert with our visit. It takes place Thursday, May 15, from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Elephant & Castle Pub (185 N. Wabash Avenue). Come by for drinks, complementary pub grub, and socializing. RSVP to rwankovsky [at] roundarch.com; hope to see you there!…

May 8, 2008: Book testing: how we did it   1 comment
Joshua Kaufman of UXmatters interviewed Liz Danzico and me about Rosenfeld Media, specifically addressing how we determined book features and tested our designs. We describe a bit of the "show and tell" approach we used for identifying features, and a bit about the task analysis we did for the print and digital edition designs. It's a nice short read; Joshua and Pabini Gabriel-Petit, UXmatters' editor-in-chief, did a great job. Speaking of books, I think we'll have sold 1,000 copies of Luke Wroblewski's Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks by tomorrow. That's not bad, considering it launched Monday! I wish I could take credit as some sort of guru of book promo, but it ultimately comes down to an excellent author and excellent content. Unfortunately, we're also experiencing all sorts of glitches with our shopping cart that are keeping me up way too late, but when your systems are suddenly hit by 20 times the…

May 5, 2008: New Rosenfeld Media book: Luke Wroblewski's "Web Form Design"   0 comments
Whew! It'd finally available. Joy. Relief. Here's the info from the Rosenfeld Media site: We're excited to announce that Luke Wroblewski's long-awaited book, "Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks," is now available! And with hundreds of sales since our soft launch earlier today, apparently we're not the only ones! When you buy directly from Rosenfeld Media, you'll pay US$36 for the paperback and digital editions, US$19 for digital only. (Compare with US$36 for paperback only at Amazon.) The paperback is 244 pages with high quality paper stock, a sewn binding, and a full color interior. At 6"x9", it'll be easy to stuff in your carry-on bag for reading during the flight to your next client meeting. And of course, the digital edition (373 pages) is pretty easy to take along too; in fact, it's been designed, tested, and optimized for on-screen use. Both editions are graced with 216 illustrations, which we've made available for you…

Apr 30, 2008: The Redesign Must Die talk   9 comments
Just on my way home from an enjoyable visit to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Tim Offenstein and friends put on a great event. Sick (again; WTF?), exhausted, but happy. And happy to report that I should have a new book to go on sale later this week. But enough of that; here are the slides. Much better with animation, but I had to upload a PDF, as the PPT was too large for SlideShare. Email me if you want the full 59Mb PPT. And thanks to everyone who made suggestions; it was a fun keynote to give (and hopefully to sit through): | View | Upload your own …

Apr 28, 2008: Tales from Redesignland   0 comments
On Wednesday I'll be keynoting the University of Illinois' 9th Annual Webmaster Forum. The theme of the event is redesign, and for me, redesign boils down to two four-letter words. Double trouble. Redesigns are counterproductive; not surprisingly, my talk will be titled "Redesign Must Die". So Judy Matthews' timing couldn't have been better when she pointed me to Tales from Redesignland, a fantastically funny (and apropos) new blog about the travails of those pushing the redesign rock up the academic mountain. Cool. Now I don't need to prep; I can just read Redesignland's cartoons out loud. I hope Tony Dunn manages to hold on to enough shreds of his sanity to keep producing this excellent blog. Highly recommended.…

Apr 25, 2008: Updated workshop slides   0 comments
Just posted an updated set of the slides for my site search analytics workshop. Feel free to download them from SlideShare. I'll be teaching it once more this spring, in Chicago on May 15; come join us for the day. | View | Upload your own…

Apr 24, 2008: Bug tracking for government   2 comments
Just got back from a few days in the Bay Area. Incredibly packed trip, immensely enjoyable nonetheless. The coolest idea from the visit: Mike Kunavsky told me about ParkScan.org, a "...community-initiated, web-based reporting system that tracks maintenance conditions in San Francisco's parks and playgrounds." More from their site: Community members' observations, once reported via our web-based form, are sent electronically to the appropriate city departments for action. A tracking number is assigned to each report, and the responsible department is notified. Dangerous conditions are acted on immediately, and general maintenance issues are handled in short order. Capital repairs are scheduled as budgets permit. Wow. Underfunded government entity, meet concerned citizens. Citizens supply data to the system, which routes it to the appropriate officials. (Meaning the appropriate official only has to be located once, rather than by each citizen.) Patterns and trends appear, enabling the officials to prioritize their efforts and budgets. Man, I love this…

Apr 17, 2008: Chicago early bird registration is April 18   1 comment
The Steve and Lou tour's last spring stop is Chicago, May 15-16, and the early registration deadline is tomorrow. Register by then to receive a $100 discount off each day-long workshop. I'll be teaching my new workshop, Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience, and Steve Krug's new workshop, Don't Make Me Think: The Discount Usability Testing Workshop, takes place the next day. We'll be joining in a happy hour the evening of May 15, sponsored by Roundarch's Chicago office. Details forthcoming; hope to see you in Chicago next month!…

Apr 16, 2008: I'm grateful   10 comments
Anyone who's followed my blog over the past seven (!) years knows that I'm always promoting the IA Summit. It was my baby at its inception, but it's gotten better every year. As a strapping nine year-old, it's clearly enjoyed some great parenting along the way. Many thanks to Richard Dalton, Dick Hill, and the rest of the committee for another outstanding event. But this year something extra special happened. Amid the sessions, networking, socializing and such, I encountered some completely unexpected generosity. Kevin Cheng and I have been discussing his writing a Rosenfeld Media book for some time. His proposal is about done, and I'm dying to publish the book. But Kevin's nothing if not careful and diligent; on the first day of the Summit, he told me he wanted to get a little more input on a few points before finalizing his proposal. I suggested we convene a few interested people— maybe five?—and see…

Apr 15, 2008: Early and Earley   2 comments
The early registration for Steve Krug's and my May 15/16 Chicago workshops (site search analytics, do-it-yourself usability) is this Friday (April 18). Last chance to save $100 per workshop, last stop on our spring road trip; details here. And on Thursday (April 17), I'll participate in Seth Earley's Search Solutions conference call series, making a very short presentation on (you guessed it) site search analytics. No charge to listen in; details here.…

Apr 11, 2008: Discount to attend An Event Apart   1 comment
After months of intense negotiation, Louis Rosenfeld LLC's legal department has just completed an agreement with the good folks at An Event Apart to provide you, loyal Bloug readers, with a very nice discount for this year's conferences. These are fabulously-produced events, with excellent speakers (including Rosenfeld Media authors like Luke Wroblewski and even, um, me) in three great locations (Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago). I really enjoyed my experience at An Event Apart, and I hope you will too: AN EVENT APART PRESENTS THE BLOUG DISCOUNT An Event Apart, the design conference "for people who make websites," announces a special discount exclusively for attendees of Louis Rosenfeld's workshops—or anyone smart enough to get on this mailing list, whether you've attended a workshop or not. Save $200 off An Event Apart's Boston, San Francisco, or Chicago shows with discount code AEASKLR. With its focus on web standards, best practices, and design inspiration, An Event Apart is the perfect complement to Lou's IA…

Apr 10, 2008: Who needs the government?   0 comments
I've always loved Kurt Vonnegut's take on social networks, as presented in Slapstick, published in 1976. I blogged about this five years ago: "...I was reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick for the umpteenth time recently. The protagonist runs for President with the slogan 'Lonesome no more!'. Upon his election, every American is randomly assigned a brand new government-issue middle name, based on a plant, an animal, and other object, combined with a numeric code. President Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain's plan takes off, and these new 'families' persist after the inevitable collapse of western civilization. As you might guess, I recommend Slapstick: a quick and funny-as-hell read, and a little bit of social network thinking along the way." So... just saw this article in today's New York Times. Thanks to the Internet, we don't need to be connected through artificial names; our natural ones will do. Calling all Lou Rosenfelds!…

Apr 10, 2008: IA Summits past and present   0 comments
As so many of us head to Miami for the ninth (!) Information Architecture Summit, a couple of souvenirs from #8 showed up: video interviews of a whole mess of information architects by Jorge Arango in Boxes and Arrows magazine, and by Valerie Kelly of Kent State's Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program. Check them out here and here; and say hello if you'll be in Miami!…

Mar 27, 2008: Slides for my new workshop   2 comments
Lou's teaching a whole day on site search analytics? Is there really that much to it? Well, you be the judge; here are my 118 slides. | View | Upload your own During the workshop, I'll also be demoing and leading three hands-on exercises. So I hope you UXers out there will take me at my word; there's something to site search analytics. Did I mention my three spring workshop venues? (Of course I did, but that won't stop me from doing it again.) Boston, April 2. Sunnyvale, April 22. Chicago, May 15. All the details are right here.…

Mar 26, 2008: Beautiful patterns   0 comments
Peter's hit another home run with his collection of search patterns. Incredibly useful; all right there on Flickr. Very handy; enjoy! …

Mar 23, 2008: Spring 2008 talks (Philadelphia, Boston, Urbana-Champaign, Sunnyvale, Chicago)   0 comments
On April 2, I'll be speaking at PhillyCHI on site search analytics. Todd Warfel's Messagefirst is hosting the event; here are the details (including RSVP info): Time: 6 - 8PM (social time from 6 - 6:30PM) Location: Messagefirst 230 N 2nd St. Suite 2C (215) 825-7423 Map: tinyurl.com/yqsvqv RSVP: phillychi@gmail.com Then I'll hop the Acela for Boston, where I'll be teaching my first-ever full-day workshop on site search analytics (on April 4). There are lots of seats open; I'd love to see you there. Another stop on the site search analytics workshop tour takes place in Sunnyvale, California, April 22, sponsored by Involution Studios Master Academy. This was originally scheduled for last week, but frankly, I was sick as a dog. On April 30, I'll be keynoting the UIUC Webmaster Forum. Given that the event's theme is web redesign, I've saucily titled my keynote "Redesign Must Die". I'll then do a short session on (you guessed it) site search analytics. Finally, on May 15,…

Mar 18, 2008: Storytelling and UX   0 comments
We've just signed Kevin Brooks and Whitney Quesenbery to write Storytelling for User Experience Design. Great people, great topic! Read all about it.…

Mar 17, 2008: Rescheduling 3/18/08 workshop   2 comments
Under doctor's orders, I've had to cancel tomorrow's site search analytics workshop. I was to teach it at the Involution Master Academy in Sunnyvale, but here I sit in Brooklyn. I don't remember ever having such a debilitating flu. Worse: at one point all three of us had it. Not fun. This is the first time in about 50 tries that I've had to cancel a seminar or workshop. It really is nasty. So if you hear someone coughing, run. In any case, I'm working with Dirk Knemeyer to reschedule, and will post the new date here soon. Stay well! Update: We're on for Tuesday, April 22. Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience, in Better-Damn-Well-Be-Sunnyvale, CA.…

Mar 5, 2008: Good looking pre-conference seminar at the IA Summit   4 comments
I like the looks of this: "Becoming a leader—from IA to business and beyond": Information Architecture is maturing as a profession, and IAs are increasingly being called on to leadership positions within their organizations. This seminar will be a daylong workshop that will explore the relationship between Information Architecture and Leadership. We will examine this relationship from two perspectives: How IAs can become effective leaders in their organizations (and in society as a whole). How IA skills and processes can make managers and organizations—of any type—more effective. You can't go wrong spending the day with instructors like these: Christopher Fahey, Margaret Hanley, Harry Max, Karen McGrane, Josh Rubin, and Jorge Arango. Yikes. Miami is just around the corner...…

Feb 28, 2008: Site Search Analytics workshop outline   16 comments
Here's the outline of what I plan to cover in my new workshop. Does this sound like what you'd expect to be covered in a workshop about using site search analytics to improve UX design? Anything missing? Anything seem extraneous? To entice you to give it some thought, I'll send a copy of Indi Young's new Mental Models book or a signed polar bear v3 to the three most helpful commenters who post feedback before Monday, March 3. OK, here 'tis...…

Feb 21, 2008: Digital book design   3 comments
Since going live with Rosenfeld Media's first book, we've been getting some love for our digital edition's design. This edition isn't just the PDF of what we sent to the printer; it was designed specially for on-screen use. Large typeface, easy to scroll through, good use of the PDF reader software's capabilities, and a bunch more features... While it's not perfect, we did a fair bit of testing on it, so we're happy to hear mostly positive feedback. Even when we don't deserve credit. Jorge Arango blogged that our digital design was formatted perfectly for his Sony Reader. I'm not sure I've ever seen a real live Sony Reader (although I did check out a Kindle recently). But lucky us, here is Indi's book nestled snugly on Jorge's Reader: Eureka!…

Feb 20, 2008: Findability at the intersection of user experience and web analytics   0 comments
I guess I still do occasionally write about information architecture. :-) Here's an article that was just published in Adobe's Think Tank. It starts out on the left bank of findability, swerves through the foothills of user experience, and ends up squarely on web analytics' turf. Thanks to David Womack for his fantastic editorial help.…

Feb 14, 2008: My new workshop: "Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience"   0 comments
You'll note from the title that I'm planning to make the case that site search analytics—understanding what users search within your site (as opposed to SEO)—is a critically important user research method. I also believe that, for various reasons, it's under-valued by the user experience community. With this workshop and with the book, I aim to change that. I'm hoping to get your feedback on what you'd like to learn in a day-long workshop on site search analytics; I'll blog about this soon. But for now, here are the details: Sunnyvale, CA (March 18, 2008): I'm teaching this first one through the Involution Master Academy. The price is lower ($699) and it's limited to nine attendees. You can register on the Involution site. Boston, MA (April 4, 2008) and Chicago, IL (May 15, 2008): these run $895 per workshop ($795 for early registration). Steve Krug will be teaching his new workshop on do-it-yourself…

Feb 13, 2008: Spend the day with me in Sunnyvale   0 comments
Let me take a break from publishing news to let you know that I'll be teaching a new day-long workshop on site search analytics, the topic of the book I'm (still) working on. The inaugural edition of Site Search Analytics for a Better User Experience is being hosted by my friends at Involution Studios in Sunnyvale, California on March 18 (10am-6pm). Involution's Master Academy takes an interesting approach with its seminars, limiting attendance to nine participants. I've heard great buzz about the quality of Involution's seminars, and they've got some excellent speakers on their spring agenda (Luke Wroblewski, Steve Portigal, Dirk Knemeyer, and Andre Herasimchuk). So you might consider their other offerings as well. I'll be announcing two more dates for later in the spring shortly, but the Sunnyvale date will be the smallest and the only one on the west coast. More on this new workshop soon; hope to see you this spring!…

Feb 9, 2008: Finally!   7 comments
After two long years, Rosenfeld Media is a real, bona fide publisher. More importantly, as a loyal Bloug reader, you can purchase our first book, Mental Models: Aligning design strategy with human behavior, by Indi Young, with a 10% discount from the Rosenfeld Media site (use code BLOUG01MM). You'll receive Indi's excellent book, illustrated and beautifully printed in full color on high quality paper with a sewn binding. But that's not all! You'll also receive a digital version, optimized for on-screen use. Now a searchable and readable version will go where your laptop goes. But that's not all! We're providing loads of complimentary content on Indi's book site And all of the book's images are available for downloading and incorporating in your presentations via Flickr. But that's not all! Both print and digital books have been tested by real live users, supervised by real live UX experts. (We'll be sharing our results this…

Jan 16, 2008: Where I've been   5 comments
It's been a while since I blogged. I'm mostly recovered from the latest Redmond-induced meltdown. I'm doing my best to purge my life of all dependencies on Microsoft. Let that be a lesson to me. Where have I been? The furthest I've wandered these past couple months was the Great Wolf Indoor Waterpark in the Poconos. A fantastic birthday gift for a fantastic four year-old. I highly recommend it, especially the water slide that's modeled on a toilet bowl. Quite a ride. What else? Indi Young's Mental Models, Rosenfeld Media's first book, is finally at the printer! It should reach the warehouse by month's end. You'd think producing a book would be the hard part, but selling it is proving to be a comparable challenge. Setting up our shopping cart has proven to be far more difficult than anticipated. Unbelievably so. I'd like to publish a book on the…

Nov 29, 2007: SOS   11 comments
Totally hosed here. I performed a dreaded "advanced rebuild" of Entourage this morning. Lost tons of critical email. Realized--too late--that trashing and deleting the old database was a bad idea before checking out the new one. (It was 4am.) Now trying to recover and am desperate for help. Recovered the old database using Data Rescue II, but Entourage won't open it. Took it to an authorized Mac repair place here in Brooklyn; they were extremely helpful, but could get it to open. I can recover most of the old mail from my last backup, but I'm done with Entourage for good. I'm going to bite the bullet and move all the old mail (in mbox format) to gmail--ASAP--but can't get gml Loader to run properly (ack--terminal mode--ACK!--Unix command line language--13-year old memories covered in dust--ACK!!!). If I can get it to run, I can start migrating my 2.5 gigs of old mail…

Nov 28, 2007: User Experience Network picks up steam   1 comment
We've relaunched the UXnet web site, with some major improvements. We've made it far easier for our dozens of UXnet "local ambassadors" to profile the UX activities and landscape in their local areas. Subsequently, the events calendar has grown substantially. The site's news area has been going strong for a while now through the efforts of Mark Vanderbeeken and Whitney Quesenbery. Thanks to the new design, the site's content and overall activity have really taken a great leap forward. And we're not done yet; more good changes are on the way. So, if you've had a "wait-and-see" attitude about UXnet (and I wouldn't blame you if you did) this is a good time to take another look. And if you're interested in participating as an "ambassador" for your area, we want you. This is a great time to acknowledge the hard work of many volunteers, especially Keith Instone, who squeezed much of the relaunch into his…

Nov 26, 2007: Slides from my CanUX keynote   1 comment
Here they are; fresh from an hour ago... | View | Upload your own…

Nov 25, 2007: Ahhh, coffee   2 comments
Thanks everyone for the wonderful suggestions; I only wish my professional scribblings elicited such passionate feedback! But hey, it's hard to compete with coffee. The experiment which had slid from one day to seven is now entering its third week. And it think it's fair to say that it's over, and I've given in to joining the caffeinated majority. I still start the day with my regular tea (loose, usually Fortnum Mason's wonderful Royal Blend), but at some point in the afternoon, it's coffee time for me. I just had my first truly bad cup of coffee (in a Styrofoam cup, here on Air Canada #8391, JFK to Calgary for CanUX). But I didn't need the bad to know the good. I had my first kick-ass cup last Monday. It wasn't the famous Joe's, which was my first, nor the latte at Gorilla, as Victor recommended (though I really enjoyed it, despite the ear-bleedingly loud,…

Nov 13, 2007: I'm trying to change my life   23 comments
I'm on Day Three of a major life overhaul. After twelve years of not-so-subtle pressure from MJ, I'm making a good-faith effort to become a coffee drinker. On Sunday, I made a meeting with OK/Cancelman Kevin Cheng my excuse to visit Joe, in the West Village, which purportedly has New York City's best coffee (not to mention excellent Magnolia-killer cupcakes personally baked by my good and close friend, Amy Sedaris). I had a regular coffee, with a little milk and a little sugar. It was good and hot, but the experience didn't realign my vision of the universe and my place in it. It was hot and bitter and not much else. Essentially the way I like my tea. I finished it, got a great buzz, and that was that. Had another cup yesterday at Tillie's in Fort Greene. Not a famous cup like Joe's, but about the same taste and same experience. And…

Nov 7, 2007: Publishing house as open platform?   4 comments
Another inspiration courtesy of DUX... Adam Greenfield, author of Everyware, gave yesterday's excellent afternoon keynote. Adam used the term "ecology" quite liberally, suggesting that designers of all sorts move away from designing products and services and think more holistically, designing comprehensive ecologies, platforms (and, dare I say it, experiences). I love talks like Adam's. For one reason, I already agree— in fact, I consider myself to be something of an "infrastructuralist"— and I see the things I've helped build— Argus Associates, the IA Institute, and now Rosenfeld Media, as essentially infrastructures or platforms for smart people to use to shape, sell, and share their ideas and expertise. But Adam makes this case for holistic platform design so much better than I ever could hope to. He also uses great visual examples, an ability that, sadly, will be forever beyond my grasp. Adam's best example of systematic design is Nike+. Nike combines…

Nov 6, 2007: Geni.com and Griots   4 comments
I'm at DUX, and spent part of the morning talking with Kevin Brooks, a story-teller who works for Motorola, and Suzanne Currie, a design researcher at Medtronic. Kevin was telling us about the concept of the griot: West African story-tellers who maintain oral traditions for, among other things, families. It got me thinking about how we tell family stories today, and Geni.com immediately sprang to mind. Geni is a fantastic tool. You can use it to enter and visually manage your family tree information. And if you enter your family members' email addresses, they receive invitations to add their own family trees. Naturally, the trees are connected, which is where things get really interesting. For example, I've added 50 people to my tree, and those relatives have in turn added another 108. It's really quite fun to meander through my family tree map and learn something about those 108 people who I'm somehow…

Nov 2, 2007: No shotgun necessary   1 comment
It's been a quiet time on Bloug of late, as travels and putting the finishing touches on Indi's book and Rosenfeld Media's shopping cart have kept me busy. But not too busy to become a father-in-law, apparently! Here are the wedding photos.…

Oct 12, 2007: 7 day warning   0 comments
Just one week left to take advantage of the early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my DC seminars (November 15-16). And some seats still available for Seattle (October 25-26).…

Oct 10, 2007: But what about us anarcho-syndicalists?   0 comments
From the UX Crank: Study Navigation As You Would a Form of Government. For crying out loud, Dan, talk about stretching a metaphor to its utmost! But well done, nonetheless. …

Oct 5, 2007: Please help us test our first book!   0 comments
I'm excited. On Thursday October 11, we're going to test the design of Rosenfeld Media's first book! Naturally, we could use a few volunteers. Are you in New York City? Would you consider it? Would a $50 Amazon gift certificate help seal the deal? (Not to mention testing... A BOOK!) All the information you need is here; hope we'll see you next week.…

Oct 2, 2007: Come to CanUX   0 comments
I'll be speaking next month at CanUX, the Canadian User Experience event (Banff, November 25-27) organized by my pals from nForm. I've been promised that it's intimate, useful, reasonably priced, and incredibly enjoyable. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a reason to dislike Banff. Here are the details; note the discount code for, well, a nice discount: CanUX is not your typical conference. It's small (limited to 70 participants), it's in a beautiful retreat-like setting at the Banff Centre, and the program is designed to encourage creativity, exploration and group participation alongside hands-on UX learning. This year our speakers include Lou Rosenfeld, Brad Nemer, Kes and Sue Sampanthar, Derek Featherstone and Jess McMullin. The Banff Leadership Arts Ensemble will also join us (their sessions have been the highlight of previous years). It'd be great if you could come--you'll get a $50 discount on registration by using the promo code CANUXBLOG. You can register online at canux2007.com/registration. Note…

Oct 1, 2007: Using search analytics to make better metadata   0 comments
Just posted a draft chapter on how internal search analytics can help improve metadata development on our book site over at the Rosenfeld Media universe. All feedback welcomed and greatly appreciated...…

Sep 28, 2007: Bad beard diaries   2 comments
This is what I get for doing a video interview while on vacation. Bud Gibson of Eastern Michigan University interviewed me for his Michigan Innovators series while we were on a short vacation in Ann Arbor last month. (That sounds weird: "vacation in Ann Arbor". But it was great.) Bud was quite effective in getting me to spill my guts about Rosenfeld Media's plans to dominate the world of publishing. Or, at least, UX book publishing. It's all here (the third of three parts hasn't come out just yet). Next time someone interviews me, I'll remember to trim the beard first. And maybe put on a nice shirt.…

Sep 27, 2007: Two nourishing new sites   0 comments
Dan Willis, one of the planet's most delightfully cranky UX people, has launched a new blog named, naturally, UX Crank. Practical tips, lovingly illustrated, with a hint of vinegar of the most expensive balsamic variety. Khoi Vinh and Liz Danzico's new venture, A Brief Message, provides a weekly dose of design advice from some heavy hitters. Stop by for a sip of the impressive, deceivingly simple design, stay for 200 or fewer nourishing words, and leave a comment as a tip. Most everyone else does!…

Sep 25, 2007: More slides (these on consuming canine cuisine)   0 comments
These are from a short presentation I gave last week at the IIT's Institute of Design's wonderful Design Research Conference. I discussed such questions as how to improve on book design, how to determine what topics to publish, and how to ensure that the books match the promise of their proposals: It was an enjoyable experience, considering I was only able to attend about a third of the sessions. It was a little odd to talk about my own company, although we are applying design thinking (and design methods) to solving our business problems. Anyway, the slides are there, including a sneak preview of our first book's cover design.…

Sep 24, 2007: Seminar slides   0 comments
Courtesy of the most wonderful SlideShare.net, here are my fall enterprise IA slides: Feel free to peruse all 239 slides (ah, what FUN!) This Friday (September 28) is the early registration deadline for Seattle (October 25). DC takes place November 15, and the early registration deadline is October 19.…

Sep 18, 2007: Three talks in Chicago this week (one free)   1 comment
I'm headed to Chicago Thursday morning for three talks in three days: Thursday: Assuming my flight isn't late, I'll be facilitating a noon brown bag discussion on what makes a good UX book, and you're invited (this one is free). The IIT's Institute of Design is kind enough to host us; come by the Nathan Room, on the 6th floor at 350 North LaSalle. We'll do some show-and-tell: bring your favorite and not-so-favorite books you use for your work, and be prepared to discuss what you like, what you don't, and why. I've run a few such brown bags so far, and I'll describe a bit of what I've learned, as well as giving a short demo of UX Zeitgeist. Friday: My last Chicago enterprise information architecture seminar. Still some seats available! Saturday: I'll be speaking at IIT's Design Research Conference (formerly About, With, and For). I'll be presenting on how I've used, and…

Sep 11, 2007: UX consciousness among business magazines   0 comments
As a follow up to my look at "UX consciousness" among analyst firms, I just posted a look at what aspects of UX some major business magazines focus on. Read all about it on the Rosenfeld Media site and see what magazines you should be reading.…

Sep 5, 2007: Dangerous   1 comment
I've just wrapped up a week of finding out what FaceBook is all about. Apparently, the future doesn't run on email. I run on email, so I couldn't quite imagine what that future would look like. It is a scary future. Scary addictive. For example, I'm engaged in a couple knock-out-drag-down Scrabble games with other FaceBook users (the application is called Scrabulous in FaceBookLand, BTW, and is very nicely designed). But that's the difference: FaceBook seems to be more an activity tool rather than a communication tool. Email is about talking to each other, FaceBook is about doing things with each other. I can live with that; gotta have a life outside the professional realm. Speaking of which, I'm guessing that LinkedIn will have a large impact on my work. I recently tried out LinkedIn's new "Answers" feature, which puts your question out to your network (mine is 247, within one degree of…

Aug 24, 2007: A modest proposal that has absolutely nothing to do with information architecture   3 comments
During my morning jog today, I was listening to the July 24 podcast of the NPR show On Point. It initially aired the day after the CNN/YouTube Democratic candidates' presidential debate, and the discussion focused on the value and significance of American citizens communicating directly (if asynchronously) with candidates via video questions. (Though I'm a bit of a political junkie, I didn't watch it, nor do I know anyone who did. The election is, after all, fifteen months away. The only serious conversation I've had about it was with a Mexican government official while in Monterrey last month. Glad someone cares about American politics. So anyway, I didn't watch it, but—just like the talking heads—that won't prevent me from expounding.) The On Point commentators discussed the pros and cons of the format. The chief benefit was balancing the control of national discourse by a few powerful media companies with "bottom up" questions…

Aug 24, 2007: Conferences and interviews   0 comments
I'll be speaking at Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer's An Event Apart in Chicago on Monday. I've heard fantastic things about their past events, and am really excited to be attending, much less presenting (this time, on internal search analytics). Eric and Jeffrey were kind enough to interview me; it's nice and short. I also was interviewed recently by SearchCIO; it's free if you're willing to scale the huge registration wall (why do they do this?). Here are some more great events coming 'round the bend: September 21-22: EuroIA (Barcelona, Spain)Ricardo Baeza-Yates, of Yahoo! and the University of Chile, keynotes. October 4-5: IDEA Conference (New York, NY, USA)Alex Wright, author of Glut, and David Weinberger, whose newest book is Everything is Miscellaneous, are on the program. November 5-7: DUX'07 (Chicago, IL, USA)Boing Boing's David Pescovitz, Everyware author Adam Greenfield, and Brooklyn's own Steven Johnson will speak. And: Victor Lombardi is pulling off…

Aug 23, 2007: Lou: EIA adieu   6 comments
Hmmm, the vowels really ganged up on the consonants in that title... I'm now 95% certain that this fall will be the last time I'll be offering my enterprise information architecture seminar. It's not that I think we've figured out all of the challenges in fixing large organizations' information architectures. Not in the least; EIA, along with multi-lingual, multi-regional, multi-cultural IA, are the largest remaining IA frontiers. If anything, enterprise challenges are going to continue to grow as our information grows and ROTs (becomes Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial). My reasons for discontinuing the seminar are purely personal; over the past five years I've taught it about 35 times, and while that degree of practice can put one in a really comfortable place, I'd like a new challenge. I've found that challenge with internal search analytics—which, BTW, could be the enterprise information architect's best friend—and I plan on teaching a search analytics seminar during the first part of 2008…

Aug 10, 2007: Bloglines is a humility engine   2 comments
And you thought it would just be a tool for keeping up. But let those 153 feeds go for a week? Man, you'll return to a hard lesson in humility. I spent a few hours over the past few days sampling, among many others, David Weinberger's humanity, Steve Portigal's humor, Dan Roam's visual virtuosity, Jan Chipchase's observational virtuosity, Jon Udell's overall curiosity, and Kate Remen-Wait's four obsessions. So many incredible people writing and doing amazing things, all slamming you at once with their general greatness. I feel very, very small right now. Thanks, Bloglines.…

Aug 9, 2007: UX consciousness among the analysts   0 comments
I just posted an item on the Rosenfeld Media site that you might find worth a quick read. I'm trying to gauge how conscious of user experience (and all of its component fields) the Forresters and Gartners of the world are. I think I came up with some interesting data, and maybe my conclusions aren't half bad either. Anyway, would love feedback; please check it out.…

Jul 23, 2007: Seven is my favorite number...   5 comments
...so I guess I won't complain about being named #7 on a list of the world's top 10 user experience gurus. This list was part of a broader report by E-Consultancy. The report, based on 700+ responses, actually has some really useful information, and I recommend having a look. The "gurus" list is just an eye-grabber, designed to get people like me to blog about it. ;-) Speaking of attention grabbing, I'd like to get a couple new neologisms out there, these jointly coined by Iris, now 3.5 years young, and me: puptuplets ("when a lot of puppies are born"), and kittuplets (you can figure this one out). Not in Google as of right now...…

Jul 9, 2007: Usability of search: research?   5 comments
Avi Rappoport, search guru, maintainer of SearchTools.com, and Friend of Lou, asks: I'm putting together a talk on "Good Practices for Search UI" for the Enterprise Search Summit West (November 6-7 in San Jose), and am having a hard time finding any actual search usability research. Have you done any work on the topic lately? Do you know who might be in this field and available to participate? I'm looking for really practical work, such as whether users get disconcerted by very large results numbers, how long the match words in context should be, how to display zone-limited search and whether to revert to universal search after a zone, how to display Search Suggestions (Best Bets) separate from or included with organic search results, and so on. It's a great question. Any ideas for Avi?…

Jun 22, 2007: Fall seminar dates and locations   0 comments
For some reason, Steve Krug and I got a jump start on planning our fall seminar schedule. Steve will be teaching a new seminar: an entire day dedicated "to low-cost/no-cost do-it-yourself usability testing". (The description is coming to his site "real soon now".) If the description isn't yet certain, the quality and value will be; you should never, ever pass up a chance to be in the same classroom with Steve. Rosenfeld spelled backward is "Dlefnesor," which just happened to be the name of a large, lumbering dinosaur known for patiently awaiting its favorite meal, pine sap. (No, they didn't survive for long.) OK, so maybe I am a dinosaur, but I am going to continue teaching my enterprise IA seminar for one more season. I'll probably teach something new (like, um, this search analytics stuff) in the spring, but I'm not quite ready to teach a new class, and besides: the enterprise…

Jun 14, 2007: Excellent web analytics white paper   1 comment
Proving indispensable: Phil Kemelor's Web Analytics Report, published by CMSWatch. Lots of vendor-neutral goodness. Minor gripe: no coverage of internal search analytics, but CMSWatch's publisher, Tony Byrne, promises that's on the horizon with the next version.…

Jun 13, 2007: Podcast (and book sample) at ComputerWorld   0 comments
Another old podcast dug out of my "to blog" box: Peter Morville and I discussing the third edition of the polar bear book and other stuff (13 minutes) for the nice folks at ComputerWorld. Disclaimer: I haven't listened to this one, so I may be replete in my fully dweebish glory, but I'm sure Peter had interesting things to say. ComputerWorld published the podcast alongside an excerpt from our book, the chapter on organization systems.…

Jun 13, 2007: Podcast at SPARK   2 comments
This podcast is already an oldie (from last October), but hey: for once the microphone in my face didn't make me feel like a complete dweeb. Interview took place at Microsoft's SPARK meeting, Half Moon Bay, California. Fun, well-run event, unbelievably beautiful setting, fantastic discussions about the intersection of UX and software architecture... but I'm not sure that anything has come of it. If they shared their agenda, format, and transcripts, it could have become a template for many similar cross-disciplinary discussions at Microsoft and elsewhere. Maybe that could still happen?…

Jun 6, 2007: CFPs for DUX 2007 and IA Summit 2008   0 comments
Wow. We're already seeing Calls for Papers for 2008 conferences; here are a couple CFPs of note: DUX 2007—Designing for User Experience Chicago, Illinois, USA; November 5-7, 2007 CFP Deadline: July 13, 2007 CFP: http://dux2007.com/participate/call.php Information Architecture Summit 2008—Research Track Miami, Florida, USA; April 10-14, 2008 CFP Deadline: November, 2007 CFP details to be posted later this year at http://www.iasummit.org ; in the meantime, contact Research Track Chair Grant Campbell (gcampbel [at] uwo.ca) for information …

May 23, 2007: Smart Experience launches   2 comments
Victor Lombardi recently launched his new company, Smart Experience (in beta at the moment). The blurb from the main page: Smart Experience offers Internet, mobile, and software classes, with more interesting topics, more experienced teachers, and sessions that are as fun as they are educational. Smart Experience is a place where you can tell us what classes you want to take, and what classes you want to teach. I really like what Victor is doing. Obviously, his main goal is to supply UX education to practitioners in the New York City area. But Victor is really in the business of building an intelligent, innovative infrastructure that: Enables the market to profile its own educational needs Enables teachers to try out concepts before committing to teaching them Provides a calendar for publicizing courses Markets courses locally Negotiates and provides local teaching venues Provides a legal infrastructure to resolve intellectual property issues around teaching…

May 22, 2007: Upcoming talks in Chicago   0 comments
I'll be speaking at a couple of great events in Chicago in August and September: An Event Apart: August 27-28, Chicago Marriott Downtown IIT's Design Research Conference (formerly known as "about, with, & for"): September 21-22, Museum of Contemporary Art At AEA, I'll present on search analytics. At DRC, I'll talk about using UX methodology to build a UX business (can you guess which one?). I'm also 99% certain I'll also attend another Chicago event this fall, DUX 2007 (November 5-7).…

May 21, 2007: IA Institute site relaunches   3 comments
Alright! A job very well done.…

May 15, 2007: I could use your help...   0 comments
...testing book design. Seriously! How can we use UX methods to create better books? More at the Rosenfeld Media site.…

May 9, 2007: Have a look at UX Zeitgeist   1 comment
Over on the Rosenfeld Media announcements blog, I just posted a description of UX Zeitgeist, our new service that mashes up loads of information about UX books, UX topics, and UX people. Think UX meets Web 2.0 meets social networking meets data visualization. (I enjoy being a yenta.) It's in alpha, there are plenty of holes, and it's been a (long) labor of love, but I feel like UX Zeitgeist is on its way to being something that could really be useful to the UX community. Please feel free to kick the tires when you get a chance (be sure to dig past the main page!), and let me know what you think. The announcement is a good place to start. …

May 8, 2007: Google Analytics redesigned   3 comments
Greetings from the Emetrics Summit! Earlier today, Google's Brett Crosby and Jeff Veen unveiled Google Analytics' new design and architecture. It looks fantastic; I'm really looking forward to trying it out. If you like MeasureMap, you're really going to love what Jeff and his team have accomplished. GA accounts are gradually being switched over to the new design; if yours still hasn't changed over, you can take a tour of the new design here. Next on their list, I hope: get cracking on supporting local site search analytics... Update: Some excellent write-ups from Avinash Kaushik (who consults for Google) and Mashable's Adam Ostrow.…

May 3, 2007: The No-Knead Approach to Information Architecture (#4 of 5)   0 comments
So far, we've banned the evil term "redesign," and discussed how important it is to have a sense of your site's primary audiences . Now comes the fun part, Step #3: determine each audience's primary tasks and information needs. Duh. I realize that this sounds painfully obvious. But can you describe—with even minimal confidence—the major needs that each of your primary audiences wants from your site? It boggles the mind how few people responsible for web sites and intranets—Web masters, managers, product developers, information architects—have a reasonable answer. And how many would know whether their sites are successfully addressing those critical needs? So let's take a crack at this painfully obvious stuff. I've been spending way too much time thinking about search analytics (although not enough time writing about it, but that's another story). In SA, we spend a lot of time talking about this chart: In SA, the Zipf Distribution is used to chart search queries in…

Apr 27, 2007: Rude spammer from Heidrick & Struggles   0 comments
Wow. I just got off the phone with one rude spammer. I literally receive about 15K spam daily, and I take the normal prophylactic measures. But this spammer was different. She sent me a bunch of announcements about the executives she's placed—apparently her employer, Heidrick & Struggles, is a reputable company—and she posted her name and phone number in each message. When I followed her email's unsubscribe link, I found that I'd been subscribed to eight of their lists: That seems a bit much. So I decided to call the spam's source, Mercedes, and ask why. After all, she was decent enough to not spam anonymously, and her phone number was right there in the email. Her response? "I have your resume; we send these to people we've corresponded with before." Huh? I have no recollection of corresponding. And why would I? I've not been on the job market since about…

Apr 27, 2007: Putting the "I" back in IT   2 comments
Last week I blogged about all the great advice I'd received from the IAI-members list about what information architects should be communicating to senior IT people (you can read my summary here). Their advice really helped me develop my presentation, which seemed to go over quite well yesterday. (I spoke to about 100 senior IT managers from a Fortune 50, and the feedback was quite positive.) I've uploaded the presentation to SlideShare, and you can view it below. (If you want the PPT, just email me.) I started by framing problems IT managers face, introduced information architecture, took a deep dive into some of IA's concrete benefits, and concluded by suggesting that IT and IA are natural allies in making information truly strategic. The balance of big picture and concrete seemed to work well. Anyway, here you go (warning though: as much as I love SlideShare, it took my beautiful Myriad text and replaced…

Apr 27, 2007: Next Friday's the day   0 comments
Our early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my Atlanta seminars (May 31, enterprise IA ; June 1, web usability) is Friday, May 4. Please take advantage of the discount, and remember that we'll make the deal sweeter if you sign up for both seminars and if three or more of you attend. And there's plenty of space available for our Portland seminars (May 10-11)...…

Apr 24, 2007: Web form design?   4 comments
We (Rosenfeld Media) have just signed Luke Wroblewski to write a book on web form design best practices. Web form design? That was my first reaction when I read Luke's proposal. First, it's not a UX design method, like card sorting or prototyping. So that already makes it an odd duck paddling its way on the Rosenfeld Media pond. More importantly, the subject itself also seemed a bit narrow. Web form design? But when you think about it, what's more critical than forms that function well? The point of so many web sites and other information systems is to enable a transaction of some sort—not just a purchase, but so many other kinds, like signing up for a mailing list, applying for a job, completing a personal health profile—and when those forms fail, that failure is magnified in so many ways. Many of us, like Luke, have already begun to pay more attention to…

Apr 18, 2007: Information architects on communicating to IT managers   2 comments
Recently, I posted a query to the Information Architecture Institute's members-only mailing list. I was seeking advice on what to cover in a brief, half-hour talk I'll be giving soon to the senior IT people of a Fortune 50 corporation. Aside from an elevator pitch introduction to information architecture, what else should I cover? I seeded the conversation with a few suggestions of my own, intended to provoke the audience a bit: Centralization is not a solution; centralize what makes sense, and leave the rest in local hands. Let's end the wasteful pendulum swing from centralization to autonomy and back. Enterprise taxonomies are one of the last things you should be building; take baby steps first and wait until your organization is mature enough to tackle complex enterprise taxonomies—if it even will be necessary. You don't need to license a new enterprise search engine; we IA types can help you make what you've got actually…

Apr 13, 2007: Gone to see Bokonon   0 comments
The world will be a sadder place without my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, one of the great humanists of our time. Perhaps the only unique thing I can contribute to this week's understandably mournful collection of blog postings: I'd love for Rosenfeld Media authors to segment their prose into short, readable, Vonnegutian-sized chunks. You really can reasonably consume Vonnegut's prose in between subway stops; I'd like our books to read the same way. Oh, and they should also include as many references to Kilgore Trout as possible... Speaking of new authors, we'll announce another signing next week. Until then, have an uneventful Friday the 13th.…

Apr 13, 2007: Background research checklist   3 comments
I just got off the phone with a prospective consulting client. They asked me if I could send them a checklist of background research documentation that'd help me get up and running quickly. I realized that, although I've compiled and sent such a list a zillion times, I stupidly keep recreating it. So I'm posting it here, which is better than stuck in Entourage. (Google Desktop, I thought you'd help me here?) Anyway, maybe it'll help you, and better yet, maybe you'll add to the list (I'll be glad to update it as you make suggestions): User research usability test results field study reports web analytics reports search analytics reports Content research content inventories content analyses content models existing IA schematics (e.g., wireframes, blueprints) controlled vocabularies, thesauri, and other sets of metadata content authoring guidelines and policies Business context research strategy, vision, and mission documents…

Apr 10, 2007: Analytics reports as organizational change agents   7 comments
I'm wondering if anyone has experience using analytics reports as a means for achieving broad understanding, acceptance, and participation in an organization's internal knowledge management (KM) efforts? We all know how difficult it is to get colleagues to participate in new initiatives—be they KM, information architecture, content management, or similar—especially when it means more work (e.g., tagging documents, following content authoring guidelines). Would disseminating regular analytics reports—with reporting on especially interesting and occasionally uncomfortable metrics—possibly serve as a tipping point to get employees interested enough to begin supporting and participating in these initiatives? For example: Would you be more likely to start tagging the documents you publish on your company's intranet if you had a chance of cracking this month's list of Top Ten Taggers? Would you make a greater effort to follow corporate authoring guidelines if it meant your documents might show up on the latest list of Highest Rated Documents? Would you find it…

Apr 5, 2007: Deadline approaches...   0 comments
...for my Portland seminar's early registration. Register by April 13 (that's a Friday, by the way) to get $100 off my May 10 enterprise IA seminar in Portland, Oregon. You'll also get the same discount on Steve Krug's web usability seminar, same place, following day (May 11). We'll also be in Atlanta May 31-June 1; early registration deadline is May 4.…

Apr 4, 2007: The No-Knead Approach to Information Architecture (#3 of 5)   1 comment
Back to the staff of life... Step #2: Determine who your most important audiences are. Many organizations—academic institutions, for example—already have an excellent grasp of who their primary audiences are, but you'd be surprised at how many don't. Ask yourself right now: do you know who they are? It's unlikely that there are more than five that you should concern yourself with. And it's unlikely that they map to your org chart. If you're grappling with audience determination, you might consider segments that apply to your entire organization, rather than mapping to your content silos. For intranets, these might be functional roles that occur in all departments. For commerce sites, consider segmenting users by where they are in the customer lifecycle (e.g., leads, prospects, customers), rather than tying segments to specific product groups. This approach could create new opportunities to cross-sell products. Of course, the issue of audience importance begs a follow-up question: …

Mar 28, 2007: Self-tag   2 comments
I've been an information architect for a while, although I've always thought that "information therapist" made more sense. But I just came up with this one, and it fits a lot of us: infrastructuralist. While I'm trying to generate neologisms: Ed Vielmetti says I'm a tad too late with this one, but all you Twitter fans out there have been generating a bit too much twittage of late...…

Mar 25, 2007: IA Summit search analytics talk   3 comments
Rich Wiggins and I gave our talk on search analytics at the IA Summit yesterday (slides here). Actually twice; the Summit now allows attendees to vote on sessions they'd like to have a couple chances to attend, which is a great idea considering how jam-packed the program has become. So apparently we are officially the first repeated IA Summit talk; nice. This subject is really picking up steam. According to SlideShare, our talk has been favorited five times already. We've got to finish the damned book...…

Mar 21, 2007: IA Summit and big news #2   1 comment
Are you headed to the IA Summit this week? Please take a break from the slot machines and say hello, and maybe come to one of my talks. Rich Wiggins and I will be giving a talk on search analytics at 10:45am on Saturday morning; apparently, it's a popular topic, so we've been asked to repeat it later that day, at 2:45pm. I'll also be participating in Victor Lombardi's panel of information architects turned entrepreneurs, Monday at 11:45. I'm hoping to find some time to sit in the booth at "The IA is In". It's a great part of the conference, and Lucy has always been a hero of mine. I'll also be representing Rosenfeld Media, looking to talk with prospective authors. Got a good idea for a UX book? Let me or Liz Danzico know. And at some point during the open "flex track," I hope to demo this thing I've been working on…

Mar 13, 2007: Big news #1: new book signing   0 comments
Bloug's been quiet of late, as my ass has been majorly kicked with work from about eight different directions. One project has been finalizing a new book, and now we're ready to get the word out. The book is A Practitioner's Guide to Prototyping. MessageFirst's Todd Zaki Warfel, who many of you already know, is writing it (and Rosenfeld Media is publishing it). I'm really glad to have an opportunity to work with Todd and to see this topic get the brief, practical, and most of all usable treatment it deserves. Please visit the book's site and subscribe to the book's RSS feed; we want (and need) your input to make it the best it can be. I'm incredibly lucky; I get to work with fantastic people on a regular basis. The Rosenfeld Media editorial and strategic boards have been a wildly helpful resource. I've joined the growing cult that worships our development editor, Liz Danzico.…

Feb 27, 2007: Intuitect launches   8 comments
Despite my innate distrust of software vendors and how they negatively impact industries, I'm glad to see that there's a new (first?) product designed specifically for information architects. I'm only partly biased because Fred Leise, Argonaut pal and all-around good guy, is one of Intuitect's designers and principals. (Disclaimer: I like Fred enough that I was willing to serve on the company's board of advisors.) The early versions I saw last year looked promising, and the bullet points sound good: Drag-and-drop Sitemaps Cascading Wireframe Updates Integrated Flowmaps One-click High-Fidelity Prototypes I do know that many of us will identify with the first line in Intuitect's About Us page: "Intuitect was born of frustration." Congratulations, Fred and friends!…

Feb 26, 2007: Workshop on dynamic taxonomies and faceted search   0 comments
Dave Malouf kindly forwarded an announcement of the following event; sounds pretty interesting: FIND07—International Workshop on Dynamic Taxonomies and Faceted Search Regensburg, Germany, September 3-7, 2007 in conjunction with DEXA 2007 Workshop Site: www.di.unito.it/~sacco/find07 Current search paradigms for the web, direct access via search engines and navigational access via static taxonomies, have recently been strongly criticized. A third approach, dynamic taxonomies or faceted search, was proposed exactly 20 years ago and is finally gaining acceptance to the extent that it is now the de facto standard in product selection for e-commerce. Dynamic taxonomies work on multidimensional taxonomies (usually organized by facets) and provide a single, coherent visual framework in which users can focus on one or more concepts in the taxonomy, and immediately see a conceptual summary of their focus, in the form of a reduced taxonomy derived from the original one by pruning unrelated concepts. Concepts in the reduced taxonomy can be used to set additional, dependent foci and users iterate in a guided yet unconstrained…

Feb 20, 2007: The No-Knead Approach to Information Architecture (#2 of 5)   6 comments
Remember that no-knead bread I was working on a couple blog posts ago? Here's the finished product: Not bad for a first effort. Tasted damned good too. Bread machine, get thee to a basement. Speaking of banning things, we're ready for the first step of no-knead IA... Step #1: Ban the word "redesign" from your meetings. Redesign is a really, really dirty word, and your design discussions—and outcomes—will be far more successful if you avoid it. Here's why: Most of your content is stale and useless. Yet redesigns often to try to touch all content, when most of that content is better left alone or eliminated all together. Why spend all that effort on crappy content rather than focusing on just the best stuff? Redesigns apply software design thinking (versioning, for example) to something that is not a discrete, perfectible application. I'm not taking a shot…

Feb 9, 2007: New contact information   7 comments
We're due to arrive in Brooklyn on Thursday, 2/15. Here's the new contact information for Louis Rosenfeld LLC, Rosenfeld Media, and me: 705 Carroll Street, #2L Brooklyn, NY 11215 USA +1.718.306.9396 The phone number is from GrandCentral.com, and serves as a passthrough to my other lines. I haven't tried this sort of thing before; hope it works (and hope they stay in business!). Email and fax (+1.734.661.1655) haven't changed.…

Feb 7, 2007: The No-Knead Approach to Information Architecture (#1 of 5)   1 comment
Right now, a bowl of flour, water, salt, and yeast is sitting in my kitchen. I tossed these ingredients together last night—it took about three minutes—and when I get home tonight, I'll throw the blob into our Dutch oven. About 45 minutes later, we'll feast on a fantastic round loaf, chewy on the inside with a lovely cracked crust you'd normally expect to see in a Gourmet Magazine photo spread. No kneading necessary—after all, it's called no-knead bread—and all for about $.50, far less than the $6 we'd normally pay at our local high-end bakery. NotMartha baked this no-knead loaf; hope mine looks as good The process of kneading, proofing, rising, kneading again and baking can be enjoyable, but most of us have better things to do with our lives. We try shortcuts, like bread machines, but we know that these silver bullet solutions eventually make their way into basement corners or, finally, to yard sales. None…

Feb 5, 2007: Sample from Polar Bear v3   0 comments
CMS Watch has graciously published a portion of our new book's chapter on enterprise information architecture. I actually enjoyed writing this part, which is saying a lot, as writing generally drives me nuts...…

Jan 30, 2007: Spring seminars in Portland and Atlanta   0 comments
Steve Krug and I have assembled our spring seminar schedule. As usual, Steve teaches his web usability course, and I cover enterprise information architecture. These are day-long seminars, with discounts when you register for both, for early registration, and when three or more register concurrently. (We have raised prices slightly, but hey, we'd held the line steady for about four years, so don't shoot us.) OK, locations and dates: Portland, OR: The CoHo Theater May 10: Enterprise Information Architecture (w/Lou Rosenfeld) May 11: Web Usability (w/Steve Krug) Early registration by April 13 Atlanta: Zoo Atlanta (yes, you read that right) May 31: Enterprise Information Architecture (w/Lou Rosenfeld) June 1: Web Usability (w/Steve Krug) Early registration by May 4 If you've not attended Steve's seminar before, you're in for a real treat. Thought Don't Make Me Think! was a hoot? Steve's even better in person. And me? Hard…

Feb 1, 2007: Content management predictions for 2007   1 comment
Tony Byrne and CMS Watch gang recently published their predictions for 2007. Great reading; I especially like #s 7 and 12...…

Jan 30, 2007: Teetering toward Ann Arbor   1 comment
I was recently interviewed by Homeless Dave, a fellow Ann Arborite who interviews locals on the teeter-totter he built in his backyard. Dave does a wonderful job, and there's something special about bobbing up and down for an hour on a freezing winter day that really brings forth the interviewee's verbiage. (Yes, aside from the obvious verbiage, such as "Frack! It's cold!" and "My butt is really starting to hurt".) Anyway, thanks for the opportunity, Dave.…

Jan 29, 2007: 2007 IA Summit: Las Vegas, March 22-27   0 comments
The eighth IA Summit is around the corner. I won't bother you with my normal enthusiastic promotion of the event; just go. Highlights: Opening keynote by architect Joshua Prince-Ramus 19 pre-conference workshops 50 main conference sessions Scads of poster sessions It's in Las Vegas, if you're into that sort of thing And event large enough to draw a fascinating variety of attendees, yet still small enough to maintain warmth and intimacy So many good, smart people in one place; this can only happen once per year I'll be participating in two sessions: Using search analytics to diagnose what's ailing your IA with Rich Wiggins Start-up case studies: how five of us started our own businesses with Victor Lombardi, Lane Becker, Frank Ramirez, Gene Smith, and Christina Wodtke Kudos to Donna Maurer, Dick Hill, and the rest of the program committee for assembling such a strong program. Hope to see…

Jan 26, 2007: Back on track   0 comments
Sorry to be so quiet of late, but we just transitioned Bloug to a new server. I may not have received email sent to me between 9:30am and noon ET today, in case you were trying to reach me. Now back to our regular programming...…

Jan 27, 2007: Safe from porn and danger at Dayton International   0 comments
Last week I was stuck killing a few hours at Dayton International Airport in Ohio, USA. It's a nice place, as airports go. I like the whole Wright brothers theme (they were local boys). The employees don't seem unhappy to work there. And it's hard to complain about free wifi. Woops. Take that back. I really can't understand why the following error message came up in my web browser: The wifi provider, WebMarshal, seems to have a problem with Bloglines. Bloglines? Is Bloglines a publisher of pornographic material? I was actually hoping to track a package I'd FedExed. And now, my pornographic urges have apparently been recorded on my permanent record... Well, I had a few more hours to kill (oops, careful; don't use that verb while in a US airport). Inspired by my surroundings, I tried to book some flights for some upcoming trips: Booking a flight is, apparently, dangerous. Especially while at an airport. Wow. And…

Jan 15, 2007: Joy   3 comments
Boxes & Arrows has finally launched its redesign! And it's a looker...…

Jan 15, 2007: Intranets and personalization   2 comments
James Robertson is running a brief survey on the use of personalization on intranets. (Being an Aussie, he spells it funny—"personalisation"—but don't hold that against him.) It takes about one minute to complete; please help him out and take the survey by January 31: Personalisation is seen as a desirable enhancement for intranets, and a major selling point for portals, but the key question is: to what extent do staff actually make use of these features? While there is some level of anecdotal information on the actual adoption of personalisation, there are no hard figures. This 60-second survey, consisting of 8 questions, looks at the adoption of user-driven "personalisation" on intranets and portals. (Please do fill this out even if you don't currently have personalisation implemented.) The full results of this survey will be shared publicly, and the aim is to quickly gather valuable figures that can be used by intranet and portal teams when planning product selection and implementation.…

Jan 8, 2007: Upcoming talk on search analytics   0 comments
I'll be giving a talk on search analytics right here in Ann Arbor on Wednesday evening, January 17. Graciously sponsored by the Michigan UPA chapter, food and refreshments will be provided; registration (nominal fee) and RSVP required. The details are here. We'll stop at Leopold Brothers for a beer afterward. Hope to see you!…

Jan 5, 2007: Search analytics list now (re)open   0 comments
Rich Wiggins and I are dusting off the SearchLogger Yahoo! group, a moribund list that we helped start back in 2002. Of course we're biased, but Rich and I sense that interest in search analytics will grow rapidly in the next year or two. Greater interest means there will be a demand for a list, and we're glad to help make this one available. The list is now open to anyone; go here to subscribe. We'll see how it goes, and if we can reach the critical mass necessary to make it a useful list. Please spread the word...…

Jan 4, 2007: ia, informationarchitecture, toread   0 comments
Here are a couple of excellent, brief articles on the state of the field; one looking forward, and one looking back: "2001 to 2006: Five Years of Information Architecture" by Karen Loasby; FreePint, 12/21/06 "Information Architecture 3.0" by Peter Morville; Semantics, 11/29/06 They've made the rounds this past month, but if you haven't seen them, they're worth the read. A great way to warm up your brain for the new year!…

Jan 3, 2007: UXnet locales have a home on the web   1 comment
Yes, UXnet remains a work in progress, and I remain committed to its development (in fact, I've just rejoined its executive board). Like any other volunteer-driven effort, it's slow going but wonderful when it finally starts to come together. We're having one of those wonderful moments right now. UXnet launched new functionality that enables its "Local Ambassadors" to provide information about their respective locales, as well as local UX-related groups and events. Local Ambassadors are there to serve as hubs, networkers, brokers, and ultimately activists to support UX growth on the ground around the world. So far we have almost 100 ambassadors representing 73 locales in 29 countries around the world. And now they finally have a place on the web. This is very, very cool; check it out. It's been fun to watch as pages launch for each individual locale. Does this look like something you'd like to participate in? Go to the…

Dec 28, 2006: The Post-Postal Era   2 comments
As part of the pre-move purge, I've been rooting through a box of correspondence that's accumulated over about 25 years. Until MJ beat some sense into me, I was a terrible pack rat, so now I'm stuck with the task of winnowing through holiday cards from people whose names I don't recognize, birthday cards from people I'd like to forget, and actual letters—remember those?—from people I really miss. Oddly, or maybe not: from my sample, letter writing appears to have ceased in 1994, and I'm wondering why. Did people just stop writing letters because that was the year so many people got hooked on email? Seems like a likely tipping point, but I'm not ready to go along with this particular theory. What else happened to me in 1994? I turned 29; does our social circle change so radically as we enter our 30s? Hmm. What else? My free agency terminated (MJ…

Dec 19, 2006: I could really use some Excel help   11 comments
For our new book on search analytics, Rich Wiggins and I are developing a set of Excel templates that anyone is free to use to analyze their site's queries. It can be used in combination with a log parsing script that we've also made available; both are a nice alternative for people who don't have access to commercial analytics applications and their nicely-generated reports. Here are a couple sample screen shots from our current spreadsheet: As helpful as these might be, I've already hit my exceedingly low ceiling of Excel expertise. And these templates could be far more useful with perhaps just a few hours of help from an Excel whiz. So: any volunteers? We can offer you lots of acknowledgments (in the book, on our site, in the templates), a copy of the finished book, an opportunity to be altruistic (hey, it is the holiday season), and our undying love. Have a few…

Dec 15, 2006: Books, meet covers   0 comments
Rosenfeld Media is looking for an outstanding designer to develop covers for its initial series of user experience books. Know someone who understands UX and can design fantastic book covers? Then please point them to our RFP.…

Dec 15, 2006: Café 2.0   15 comments
Right now I'm sitting in my favorite Ann Arbor café, pondering having just sold our house (yesterday) and moving to Brooklyn (February 1 or thereabouts). We'll be giving up our terrific office, and I'm wondering where we'll work once we settle in Park Slope or thereabouts. Home's unlikely, given that we have a three year-old and the place will probably be the size of Tiny Tim's bathroom. So soon after landing in Brooklyn we'll begin searching for cafés and other public spaces, like libraries, that are worker-friendly. I've been thinking about what might characterize a "worker-friendly" café. (I realize that the notion of working in a café is quite bizarre to those living outside the US, but there it is.) Well, that's not quite right; actually, I've been fantasizing about what kind of café I'd want to own in some post-entrepreneurial life. This is a common fantasy among sleep-deprived entrepreneurs; we delude ourselves into thinking…

Dec 12, 2006: PublicSquare launches   0 comments
Earlier this year I blogged about the growing trend of IAs leveraging their skills in the start-up arena. We recently saw Rashmi Sinha do wonderful things with MindCanvas and, more recently, the superlative Slideshare.net. Now Christina Wodtke, of Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web fame has launched PublicSquare. It's a collaborative publishing platform that's "bigger than a blog tool, smaller than a CMS." PublicSquare's features enable: Writers to submit stories on the website Your audience to rate and vote ideas, stories and comments You to easily manage deadlines and writers You to support multiple authors and an unlimited number of stories Currently used to manage Boxes & Arrows, PublicSquare looks like a great service, especially for those managing publications with multiple authors. Congratulations to Christina, Lars Pind, Anders Pollas, and Lance Arthur on their fantastic work! (Wish my own damned UX meets Web 2.0 meets social networking service would launch already!)…

Dec 5, 2006: Ursus maritimus 3   4 comments
The 3rd edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is now available at your favorite bookstore. By my count, it's 44 pages longer, which works out to about 8% growth between the second and third editions. (Compared to about 80% growth between v1 and v2.) Is it 8% better? We hope you'll be the judge. O'Reilly has made the ToC, the index, a sample chapter, and much more available from their site. Am I glad it's done? Uh-huh. I'll never give birth, but I imagine this is the closest I'll get. But it's always fun to work with Peter on projects (we've now been collaborating since he showed up at my office door about 14 years ago). If you ever get the opportunity to work with Peter, go for it. We're especially hopeful that it'll be used as a text in the growing number of IA and IA-related classes. In…

Nov 29, 2006: Do you have a tagging case study?   0 comments
Then Gene Smith wants to know.…

Nov 27, 2006: RIP us   5 comments
Disappointing posting from Joshua Porter, who makes some egregiously wrong assumptions about IA en route to predicting its demise: The problem is that IA models information, not relationships. Many of the artifacts that IAs create: site maps, navigation systems, taxonomies, are information models built on the assumption that a single way to organize things can suit all users... one IA to rule them all, so to speak. "IA models information, not relationships"? "...one IA to rule them all"? Sigh. I don't know where to begin... I get the sense when reading IA-related postings like this that the writer has had some bad experiences with my ilk from time to time. Perhaps an information architect bit him when he was a child. We should acknowledge that, like every other field, IA does have its share of half wits that bite kids from time to time. What I don't quite understand is judging a field based on a few…

Nov 16, 2006: Fie on Louisa May Alcott, Roald Dahl, Cormac McCarthy, and all their ilk...   1 comment
Now that's a weird list! These are authors of books that, according to LibraryThing's new "UnSuggester" service, are least like Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. UnSuggester looks at co-occurrence (or, in this case, lack thereof) in LibraryThing members' collections; sadly, Green Eggs and Ham, currently an Iris favorite, is #18 on the list...…

Nov 13, 2006: Free information architecture consulting   13 comments
Does that grab your attention? Because that's what it is: I'm soliciting tough IA questions that I can take a crack at answering, and then open it up to others to comment on. The asker can be anonymous if he or she wishes. I've done this once before ("What would you do #1"), and it seemed to work out quite well. Hmmm... I solicited questions here on Bloug a week and a half ago, and no one's ponied up. Does this mean that all difficult IA questions have been answered?…

Nov 8, 2006: Enter usability gripe here   0 comments
Leisa Reichelt tipped me off to one of the many interesting activities associated with the World Usability Day (that's November 14, folks): MakingLifeEasy.org . Leisa says that "the idea is to capture experiences that exhibit good or bad usability, and then to vote for them in a usability hall of fame and shame". Looks like a great mix of fun and frustration; hope the guilty designers and product managers are listening...…

Nov 7, 2006: Very good news   1 comment
Liz Danzico is joining Rosenfeld Media as Senior Development Editor. More here.…

Nov 3, 2006: What would you ask?   4 comments
The first "WWYD?" (What would you do?) seems to have been a success. To refresh you, I took a crack at a gnarly IA question, and then opened it up to answers from Bloug readers. 14 very smart comments later, I think the original questioner got the answer, or at least the guidance, that he needed. So I guess we're ready for WWYD#2. Got a burning question about information architecture? Post it here, or email it to me (lou louisrosenfeld.com). If you email me, be sure to let me know if I can use your name and company, or if you'd prefer to remain anonymous. I'll then pick a question and take a crack at it next week.…

Nov 1, 2006: Giving a quick free talk on search analytics   2 comments
One more quick event announcement, this for one that I will attend: my co-author, Rich Wiggins, and I will be making a very brief presentation on search analytics as part of Seth Earley's "Search Solutions Jumpstart Conference Call Series". It's the fourth of four webinars, it takes place this Friday (November 3), 1:30-3pm ET, and best of all, it's free.…

Nov 1, 2006: Chilean IA retreat   0 comments
Wish I could make it back to Chile; this event (in Spanish; English translation), taking place in Santa Cruz November 10-12, would have been a great excuse. New Horizons for IA has been organized by my friend Javier Velasco; sponsors include the IAI and Yahoo! Research. I'm sure it'll be a great success; maybe I can make it next year...…

Oct 31, 2006: Old belongs   2 comments
On Adam Greenfield's recent criticisms of the IA community... I admire Adam, not only for his broad and obvious intellect, but for the almost tender sincerity he displays while admonishing the field of IA for its lack of intellectual curiosity. Many of his criticisms are spot on. He notes that we've collectively constructed "an environment in which pointed criticism is rarely heard or countenanced". We definitely can be too nice, although let's face it: we're typically not the kind of people who like to make a fuss. And in his understandable impatience, Adam is right to urge us to go further in how we define our problem space, pushing beyond the obvious challenges of intranets, enterprise settings, and so on. Really, as I read his posting, I find it hard to disagree with much of what Adam has to offer. But when I think about how new fields naturally evolve, much of his thesis falls apart.…

Oct 30, 2006: Thank you, Tim   2 comments
Just a quick note to express my appreciation to O'Reilly Media for trying their best to stuff Pandora (Pandata?) back into her box. My search analytics co-author, Rich Wiggins, and I first blogged this tawdry story, involving one incorrectly assigned ISBN, two publishers, and a whole lotta book catalogs, back in July. Tim O'Reilly just blogged his take on the escapade, "The Persistence of (Bad) Online Data" on O'Reilly Radar, where Tim and his commenters share some thoughts on how such problems might be avoided in the future. Interesting stuff...…

Oct 27, 2006: Bloug commenting fixed   0 comments
D'oh. Just as I go on a blogging-happy jag, Bloug's comments facility suddenly goes down. Well, we're back up and running, so feel free to join in my anti-Intuit venting, my touchy-feely take on politics, and more...…

Oct 25, 2006: Major web app runs on Windows IE only?   6 comments
I think it'd be fair to say that Intuit is a very, very large and successful software company. Their popular accounting software applications are designed to run on multiple platforms. Like many small business owners, I happen to use Intuit's QuickBooks for my own business accounting and bookkeeping. Because I'm moving east, and I'd like to continue working with my Michigan-based bookkeeper and accountant, we started investigating the QuickBooks Online Edition. It seemed to make sense to use a web-based service so that we could remotely access the same data, and continue to use QuickBooks (albeit now hosted by Intuit rather than living on my bookkeeper's hard drive). After all, we already do this with all kinds of other financial services, from my company's online bank account to its MasterCard and AmEx accounts. Ah, but I use a Macintosh. Even though I'd be accessing QuickBooks via the web, Intuit has chosen to not support Macintosh users. …

Oct 25, 2006: A dozen questions   4 comments
Completely unrelated to information architecture or user experience... As the election season here in the US grinds its way to, hopefully, a palatable conclusion, I've been thinking about the kind of people who serve as elected officials and government administrators. I've only met one or two, certainly not a representative sample. If I ever have the chance to meet more, here are some questions I'd like them to answer for me before I vote: Dear Candidate: have you ever... ...grown food? ...cleaned a toilet? ...volunteered on a regular basis? ...taken care of someone who was in very bad shape? ...babysat? or changed a diaper? ...lost a close friend? ...been beaten up? beaten someone up? ...traveled outside the country? your state? ...tried to learn another language? …

Oct 25, 2006: Help Donna: survey on card sorting   0 comments
For her Rosenfeld Media card sorting book, Donna Maurer is running a very brief survey on non-standard uses of card sorting. She'll publish the results on her book-in-progress site. Please take a few minutes to help out Donna, and forward this on to anyone else who you think might want to take this survey.…

Oct 24, 2006: Why we need UXnet, #18   2 comments
Keith Instone's predicament. Lack of a shared UX events calendar and no coordination between UX-related organizations mean that we—and they—all lose. Dang. That's why a bunch of us volunteers keep plugging away at UXnet. Which will launch a major upgrade soon, BTW...…

Oct 24, 2006: Brooklyn-bound for good   3 comments
MJ, Iris, and I are moving to Brooklyn this winter, likely in February or March, after I finish the search analytics book. I've been privileged to have lived in Ann Arbor for 23 years, and MJ and, of course, Iris have lived in the Midwest their whole lives. We love it here; Ann Arbor is about as great a small city as you'll find in the United States. We enjoy a comfortable life, a walkable commute, acres of parks, and fantastic friends and neighbors. And yet... And yet, we need a change and a challenge. We need to be closer to family. And professionally speaking, there's so much more going on in those coastal locales. I almost moved to Berkeley twice in my twenties, and I can't help but wonder "what if?". In a place like Ann Arbor, we've had to create our opportunities, and there's nothing wrong with that. But looking…

Oct 16, 2006: Quick reminder—Thursday happy hour in Seattle   1 comment
Hey, hope to see you Seattlites at the annual Krug/Rosenfeld happy hour, this Thursday (10/19) 5:30pm at Fado Irish Pub (First and Columbia) in sunny Seattle. Our generous hosts are the incomparable Nick Finck and his colleagues from Blue Flavor. All who shade themselves under the user experience umbrella—and their pals—are welcome. See you then!…

Oct 13, 2006: Take a survey, help Marti, win $$$   0 comments
UC Berkeley's Marti Hearst is always doing interesting stuff. Right now, she and Emilia Stoica are evaluating automated tools for building category systems for information architectures. They are trying to incorporate the information architect's perspective into their evaluation, and could use your help, by way of taking a survey. Here's more from Marti:…

Oct 12, 2006: WWYD #1   17 comments
It might be nice to run a semi-regular feature in Bloug called "WWYD". No, smartypants, that doesn't stand for "What Would Yoda Do?". It's "What Would You Do?". Someone asks me a tough question, I take a stab, blog both question and answer, and seek out additional suggestions (and perhaps critiques of my answer) from Bloug readers. I've done this a few times before on Bloug; thought it might be fun to do it more regularly, so if you have a tough IA question that you'd like to get a variety of opinions on (including my own), send it my way. OK, so let's get started. The first and official WWYD is a question about whether or not to give up on using a taxonomy in an enterprise setting. It's from an attendee at one of my recent enterprise IA seminars (who wishes to remain anonymous): We recently bought and installed the Google mini to enhance…

Oct 10, 2006: PDF Books: design resources?   11 comments
Setting aside my somewhat snarky perspectives on information architecture for a moment... I'm looking for advice on best practices of designing books in PDF format. Rosenfeld Media's books will be available for sale in both print and PDF. We've done some fairly extensive market research and have learned quite a bit about print book design guidelines. We'll be testing our design (using print-on-demand copies) with real live users once we have a couple final manuscripts to try out. But the PDF side of things is a bit more muddled. I've not had much luck turning up useful guidelines, best practices, or resources of any kind that can help us make such decisions as how to balance the requirements of onscreen reading versus printing, which typefaces are most appropriate, how much navigation to leave to Acrobat versus to build into the file, and so on. I've grabbed a copy of Karen Schriver's Dynamics in Document Design, but I'm…

Oct 9, 2006: The evolution of metadata at the BBC   0 comments
The Bulletin of ASIS&T published a nice piece on the evolution of metadata creation and usage at the BBC by Karen Loasby. Karen skips from 2002 to 2004 to the present, and takes a peek ahead to 2008. It's a quick read, and Karen's depiction of the BBC's transformation mirrors much of what's happening (or soon will) across the industry. I'll summarize here, though with my comments added, I'm afraid my posting may be longer that Karen's original article. Four years ago, metadata hadn't yet penetrated the BBC widely, and was chiefly seen as a means for bumping up page rankings in Google and on BBC's local search engine. The organization took a fragmented approach to developing and applying metadata, and "for the most part the keywords made the site search worse." But by 2004, things had "shifted from improving search to the possibility of powering feeds and aggregation pages". I find this shift…

Oct 7, 2006: Polar Bear v3.0: what's new   0 comments
Peter Morville and I have received a few questions recently from faculty hoping to use the 3rd edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web in their Winter 2007 courses. Well, we have good news. According to O'Reilly, the new polar bear will be available by the end of the year. The cover looks, um, kinda like the second and first editions, so mark that off the "what's new" list: And, to help with course planning, here's an excerpt describing what's new: We've maintained the overall organization of the book while bringing the concepts, examples, and illustrations in each chapter up to date. We received substantial help from the information architecture community in the form of responses to a series of surveys we conducted in 2006. The chapters on organization and navigation systems have been expanded to address tagging, folksonomies, social classification, and guided navigation. The chapter on design and documentation includes new sections on the role of diagrams…

Oct 6, 2006: Finding contacts in unfamiliar cities   7 comments
Here's a feature I'd love to see in social networking apps like LinkedIn: say you're headed out on a brief trip to an unfamiliar destination. It'd be really nice to get a list of people to look up who are friends of friends. But your social network has few or no contacts who live in the city you'll be visiting. You could expand your search another degree of separation, and see who within that set of contacts lives there. But how many of us actually bother to do this? It seems like a bit of a hassle. Also, these networks only know about the cities our contacts currently reside in. Lost is the information on our contacts' past locales (and, therefore, all the contacts they have in those places). So I may be on my way to Seattle, and one of my contacts lived there for twenty years and built a wonderful network there. …

Oct 4, 2006: Whole lotta slides   4 comments
OK, thanks to SlideShare, you don't have to download my 8.9Mb enterprise IA seminar presentation. You can just click through the 266 slides right here: Alright; maybe it'd be better to have me walk you through it instead. I'm teaching the seminar once more this year: October 19, at Seattle's wonderful new Central Library; still some seats available. And all UXers and fellow travelers are invited to a fantastic happy hour, also October 19, 5:30pm at Fado Irish Pub, sponsored by our friends at Blue Flavor. See you there?…

Sep 27, 2006: Fresh presentation on search analytics   3 comments
Gave this talk (2.1 Mb PPT) on search analytics a half hour ago at Webcontent.gov's Web Manager University; enjoy. Update: I just shared this presentation via Uzanto's about-to-launch SlideShare service. (Uzanto are the smart people behind MindCanvas.) Here's the hosted version of the file, and check out the embedded version below: SlideShare's goal is to be the YouTube of Powerpoint files; by unlocking the value currently buried in these files, it could be a huge productivity boon to both individuals and organizations. Because Rashmi Sinha and Jon Boutelle are behind SlideShare, it's incredibly well-designed. Absolutely cool. And absolutely useful.…

Sep 26, 2006: Podcast interview with me on DevSource.com   0 comments
Mike Elgan gets me on the couch for 16 minutes. The still makes me look like the stiff awkward guy that I am...…

Sep 22, 2006: Seattle seminar deadline   0 comments
Woops. Time is flying by way too quickly. It's fall. We're already running the heat at night. My cat's fur is looking, well, furrier. And the early registration deadline for my 10/19 Seattle seminar is today. Shoot!…

Sep 22, 2006: DC happy hour Thursday, 9/28   0 comments
Tony Byrne's CMS Watch is sponsoring a UX happy hour in conjunction with Steve Krug's and my Silver Spring seminars. These are open to anyone in the community, not just our seminar attendees; if you're in the neighborhood, come say hello to Tony, Steve, and me. Details: Date: September 28, 2006 Time: 5:30-7:30pm Location: Austin Grill (919 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring) Admission: FREE Please spread the word!…

Sep 20, 2006: Whole lotta IA survey results now available   3 comments
For the new edition of the polar bear book (almost done!), Peter Morville and I conducted five surveys of the information architecture community. All of the results are now available via the IA Institute web site, and cover the following topics: Survey 1: IA Trends Survey 2: Suggestions for the Third Edition Survey 3: Software for IA Survey 4: IA Education (educators' perspective) Survey 5: IA Education (practitioners' perspective) Many thanks to the hundreds of you who participated, to Beth Koloski, our wonderful research assistant who did all the dirty work and assembled the results, and Noreen Whysel of the IAI, who kindly published them on the site.…

Sep 18, 2006: New book: Communicating Design   0 comments
So nice to come home from a trip and find Dan Brown's Communicating Design buried under a pile of mail. Having just slogged through PB3's chapter on deliverables, it would have been so helpful to have had this book handy a few weeks earlier (although Dan—along with Gene Smith and Austin Govella—really helped us out on that chapter). Considering how the field has matured in the past few years, it really makes sense to dedicate a book to deliverables; I can't imagine a better person to take on the topic. Communicating Design is divided into three logical sections—"User Needs Documents," "Strategy Documents," and "Design Documents". Within those sections, Dan covers ten essential types of deliverables, and he deserves a lot of credit for sticking to only ten. Anyway, time to get your credit card out and order a copy. Congrats, Dan!…

Sep 12, 2006: Wherefore art thou, oh MMSWatch?   2 comments
Perplexed friend writes: I'm searching/surfing like crazy to find a central resource for a list of metadata associated tools (from thesaurus development to auto-classification tools that utilize metadata). I've visited Avi Rappoport's SearchTools.com site and it seems a little bit behind (lots of shaking in that industry the last several months). I've visited Willpower for thesaurus software and their list is ok. However, you'd think that by 2006 there would be something like a CMSWatch or SearchEngineWatch but just for theaurus/taxonomy/metadata tools? Perplexed friend is right: how come there's no definitive place to learn about this stuff? Maybe the industry hasn't matured enough just yet. I've been wondering when MMS (metadata management systems) would emerge to take their rightful place alongside the CMS industry. Anyway, does anyone know of good sites for metadata management tools? If not, how about starting one? I suggest calling it MMSWatch...…

Sep 1, 2006: Guidelines for the use of search query data   0 comments
I imagine that, by now, you've heard of the recent AOL search data fiasco. AOL researchers released millions of queries from hundreds of thousands of searchers for research purposes (a really Good Thing). Unfortunately, the queries weren't properly scrubbed, jeopardizing the privacy of many of those searchers (a really, really, really Bad Thing). Naturally, this snafu has raised red flags among many privacy advocates (not to mention people writing books on search analytics). Front page coverage in the New York Times has a way of drawing attention to an issue, and not surprisingly, important people have taken notice. US Congressman Edward Markey has renewed his call for legislation to limit and in certain cases prohibit the use of search query data. Like any new tool, search analytics is a double-edged sword. The AOL debacle—and the subsequent invasion of thousands of individuals' privacy—represents one of the worst possible outcomes of keeping query data around. But before…

Aug 31, 2006: Best evar explanation of branding   1 comment
Right here. Wow. Livia, thanks for reminding me that I need to add ZeFrank to my daily consumption list.…

Aug 30, 2006: DC early registration deadline   0 comments
This Friday is the deadline for early registration for Steve Krug's and my Washington DC seminars (well, Silver Spring, really). Register early, register often to take advantage of the $100 discount.…

Aug 29, 2006: IA Summit CFP   0 comments
Wow, IA Summit #8 is already percolating (Las Vegas, March 22-26). Here's the CFP: The Information Architecture Summit is a premier gathering place for information architects and for discussion about information architecture. Everyone who touches on IA is welcome to share and learn. Last year's IA Summit attracted over 500 attendees, including beginners, experienced IAs, and people in a range of related fields. In this call, we seek proposals for presentations, panels, research, pre-conference workshops & posters. All proposals can address core IA principles, emerging trends and technologies, or the business of IA. We are also interested in cross-disciplinary contributions to the practice of IA from related fields such as library science, user experience, interaction design, and user centered design. Sessions may address core IA skills or advanced IA topics. We encourage submissions from practitioners, academics, and students. We also love hearing from developers, business analysts, managers, and others who work with information architects and/or information architecture. We also seek…

Aug 17, 2006: Never thought of this before   19 comments
One of my clients wants me to meet with a group of stakeholders to discuss their organization's IA strategy. My client is a bit uneasy about it: many of the stakeholders keep bandying about the term "portal". You know, portal, one of those terms that can mean about sixteen different but frustratingly-related things? (By the way, I was once an expert witness on a case that hinged on the definition of "portal," but that's another story...) Anyway, what should we do to keep this portal madness from throwing a monkey wrench into our meeting? It just occurred to me that we should simply ban the use of the term, flat out. "But Lou, we really could use a 'porta--" BZZZZZT! "No, no, no, stop right there, dirty word. What do you really mean?" And so on. Have any of you tried banning an especially sticky or controversial term from a meeting before?…

Aug 11, 2006: Chicago early registration deadline   0 comments
Considering attending Steve Krug's and my Chicago seminars? The early registration deadline is one week out (August 18).…

Aug 8, 2006: UX Search Roll   4 comments
Just experimenting with Yahoo!'s new Search Builder service, which allows you to create a custom search roll (yes, just like Rollyo). Here's my stab at a user experience search roll; please give those tires a kick: Web function displayPopSearch(vert,mobid) { if (document.getElementById("popsearch_web_" + mobid)) { document.getElementById("popsearch_web_" + mobid).style.display = "none"; } if (document.getElementById("popsearch_site_" + mobid)) { document.getElementById("popsearch_site_" + mobid).style.display = "none"; } if (document.getElementById("popsearch_news_" + mobid)) { document.getElementById("popsearch_news_" + mobid).style.display = "none"; } if (document.getElementById("popsearch_" + vert + "_" + mobid)) document.getElementById("popsearch_" + vert + "_" + mobid).style.display = "block"; } Which sites does it search? Here's my list as of August 8, 2006: …

Aug 7, 2006: IA conference in Australia   0 comments
Eric Scheid of Sydney's Ironclad Networks just announced the first Oz-IA/2006 Conference & Retreat (September 30-October 1 in Sydney). Looks like a great event, with a keynote by Mark Bernstein, presentations by Thomas Vander Wal, Donna Maurer, Dan Saffer, Hurol Inan, James Robertson, and other good folks, plus a host of workshops. Sounds like a fantastic program, and Sydney is a fabulous city; wish I could go!…

Aug 3, 2006: For government employees   0 comments
Work for the government? Interested in IA and usability stuff? Then two things for you to know: Steve Krug and I are offering a discounted rate of $500 per seminar to government (federal and state) employees for our day-long web usability and enterprise IA seminars (normal price is $795). To register, complete and fax or mail this PDF form (sorry, our online registration isn't smart enough to automatically apply the discount). Dates and locations for our seminars are: Chicago: September 14-15 Washington, DC (Silver Spring, actually): September 28-29 Seattle: October 19-20 While Steve and I are in DC, we'll be giving of short talks at Webcontent.gov's Web Manager University. I'll be trying out some of my new material on search analytics, which, of course, every government webmaster should be fully…

Aug 2, 2006: IAs and Formal Education   1 comment
Surveys surveys surveys... When will this madness end? Our latest survey—on the impact of formal education on IA practitioners—will greatly help Peter Morville and me as we write the third edition of the polar bear book. (If you're an IA educator, take this survey instead.) All of our survey results are being published on the IAI site. The new survey is really, really short; please give us a hand and take it before August 8. Thanks!…

Jul 31, 2006: Lou's Makeover   5 comments
...and it's about time! Myra Klarman, former web designer of the userati (for starters, the NNG event site, Peter Morville's site, ye olde ACIA site, and this one) has changed careers, opening a professional photography studio here in Ann Arbor. Yeah, Flickr will do that to you. Myra updated my mug; not bad, especially considering the source material: "I really, really want to teach you about enterprise information architecture." Far more enjoyable are the portraits on Myra's (naturally) wonderfully-designed site. Two of my favorites are of a certain kid. Go Myra!…

Jul 27, 2006: Another quick survey... for IA Educators   0 comments
Do you teach information architecture in an academic setting? If so, please take our survey for IA educators. It'll help Peter Morville and me with the third edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web , which is now being used as a textbook for many IA classes. If you have 5-10 minutes before August 8, please help us out (and spread the word). BTW, all of our survey results are being made available on the IAI site. Many thanks!…

Jul 26, 2006: Is it just me?   11 comments
...or do there seem to be fewer bookmarks tagged by del.icio.us users as being about information architecture and user experience? Purely anecdotal of course; not sure there's a trend here. If there is, it may not be that IA and UX are losing popularity so much as users are tagging with increasing specificity within those (and all) subjects. Or that popular items tend to get tagged more than new items; with newer fields like IA and UX, perhaps the community has finally caught up on tagging the "important" stuff. Or both?…

Jul 24, 2006: Quick survey on IA software   1 comment
Got a few minutes? Then how about taking a survey to describe the software that helps you with your information architecture work? It'll help Peter Morville and me with the third edition of the polar bear book. As with all of our book-related surveys, the results will be shared on the IAI site. Thanks!…

Jul 17, 2006: Letting the cat out of the wrong bag   6 comments
Rich Wiggins, my co-author, just blogged about his extreme displeasure with a certain publisher that has mistakenly announced to the world that it has published and is now selling our book. You know, the book that we haven't exactly, umm, written yet. And that'll be published by a different company. Screw-ups happen, and I can look forward to many in my own career as a publisher. I do believe O'Reilly is sincere in trying to fix the problem. And yet... And yet it's just another data point, along with the errors found in our credit reports and medical records, that demonstrates the fragility of reality in a world of decentralized information. This mistake is intractable because it has propagated itself widely—globally, in fact—and will likely continue to do so. It may cause marketplace confusion that could damage sales of the book—and the fledgling publisher behind it. So my hope is to spread the word that Rosenfeld Media…

Jul 12, 2006: Everyday IA Flickr Group   2 comments
You might want to visit (and join) the new Flickr group called Everyday Information Architecture. The group creator, Benjamin Fischer, writes: For a publication (part of my thesis in communication design) on how we find, collect, evaluate and share information I am searching for images of "Everyday Information Architectures". The kind of images I am researching are those of personal design solutions for organizing and structuring everyday life and environment: bookshelves, movie-collections, mind-maps, workplaces, toolboxes, garages, photoboxes, filing cabinets etc. Damn. Just two weeks ago I got rid of the last bunch of my 500 or so music cassettes, many about 25 years old, all uniquely color-coded using RECS (the Rosenmusic Esoterica Classification System). Left them in the lunch room free for the taking, and they got snapped up in a couple hours. Bizarre. Must be a lot of retro hipsters lurking nearby...…

Jul 11, 2006: Using locational context to beef up search queries   8 comments
Here's another thought about search. Search logs often tell us not just what a user searched, but which page they were visiting when they initiated their search. Knowing the locational context of searches can help us diagnose a variety of findability problems, such as sussing out navigational failure points. But what about using locational context to enrich the query itself? In this case, a search engine would harvest key terms from the page where the search originates. These terms would then be added to the user's query to enhance the query. For example, let's say a user finds herself reading an article deep in nytimes.com on Turkey, the country. She's an active traveler—and wants to know if the Times has some useful travel articles on Turkey—but she's also a lazy searcher (like the rest of us) and just submits "Turkey" as her search. Normally, she'll retrieve documents about the bird, the latest Broadway flop, and other stuff besides…

Jul 10, 2006: Search log samples   0 comments
Another request for book help: Rich Wiggins and I would like to assemble a small collection of sample search logs for our book on search analytics. Please consider sharing a small sample; go to the "book in progress" site to learn more (and many thanks for any help you can provide).…

Jul 9, 2006: A favor for Donna?   0 comments
Donna Maurer is seeking IA-knowledgeable volunteers to participate in a card sort exercise. She'll use the results in her forthcoming Rosenfeld Media book, and it'll also help her in her role as program chair for next year's IA Summit. Please give Donna (donna at maadmob.com.au) a hand and help her create a better book and a better conference web site.…

Jul 1, 2006: Interviews   2 comments
It's kind of a motley collection, but here goes: Jon Udell and I have a long conversation that meanders from information architecture to new-fangled publishing, stopping at search analytics along the way. Check out the podcast over at InfoWorld. Realtor Magazine's Chuck Paustian did a short piece with me, graciously humoring me as I gripe about my experiences with real estate sites (we've been on an unsuccessful house hunt for over a year now). I'm all the rage with Australian librarians (not), thanks to Geraldine Barkworth's interview in InCite, the news magazine of the Australian Library and Information Association. And Michael Fitzgerald gets some quotage from me for his recent piece in CIO Magazine on folksonomies (I guess Thomas Vander Wal wasn't available?).…

Jun 30, 2006: The History of the Button   0 comments
Bill DeRouchey, information architect and all-around nice guy from Portland, Oregon, has just launched a blog to explore the history of the humble button: The idea: The button is interesting. It has a history, an evolution. It began as a simple on/off device and has become a central part of our human culture. We reach out to manipulate objects. We push buttons and magic things happen. At first, the light goes on. The light goes off. But now, we find our friends and family. We order and ship presents. We launch bombs. The button is the center of our power. This blog/resource/concept is to explore and record the history of the button. That's all. Sounds like fun in a sort of Salt and Cod kind of way. Maybe Bill should follow it up with a companion history of the index finger? ;-)…

Jun 29, 2006: Is there such thing as a "middle torso"?   1 comment
We've all heard of the "long tail" when it comes to search queries, and we can all imagine what the "short head" would be, even if we've never heard the term. But is there a "middle torso"? I ask this question and explain a little bit about what I mean over on our search analytics book site's blog; if you have any thoughts on this topic, please post a comment over there.…

Jun 28, 2006: Where IA Research and Practice Meet   0 comments
In the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (could the name be any longer?), Karl Fast deftly sums up The Confluence of Research and Practice in Information Architecture. Short and highly recommended; I hope Karl writes a follow-up piece that lays out concrete next steps toward formulating an IA research agenda and getting practitioners and researches to talk more. If you're really interested in this particular confluence, you should also check out Keith Instone's excellent summary of the Research Panel at the last IA Summit, where Keith, Peter Morville, Don Turnbull, Jamie Blustein, and many audience members participated.…

Jun 28, 2006: Comcast—Truly Evil   5 comments
Despite employing one of my favorite information architects, Comcast is steadily rising to the top of my service provider shit list. Latest reason: I've been paying Comcast for four years for my office's dedicated cable modem. Now my loyalty has been rewarded with an unrequested and yet ominously "pending change" of my service from Comcast PRO to Comcast Workplace. Comcast's letter makes it sound so simple and painless: "...no additional charges associated with the transition...", as well as a variety of new services that, naturally, I don't need. Enclosed with the letter comes a partially pre-completed "Workplace service order agreement" form that I'm required to sign and return to Comcast. Hmmm... And yet Comcast's letter proclaims how "It is important to Comcast that we provide our customers with the best available service options." Options? This sounds like an unfunded mandate. Actually, it is a funded mandate, only in the wrong direction. Snuck into…

Jun 26, 2006: Fall 2006 seminars: Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle   0 comments
Registration is now officially open for Steve Krug's and my fall seminar series. (Steve teaches his web usability workshop, and mine is a seminar on information architecture for large enterprises; both classes are one day long.) Here are the dates and locations: Chicago: 9/14 (Lou), 9/15 (Steve) at the Gene Siskel Film Center; early registration by 8/18 Washington, DC: 9/28 (Lou), 9/29 (Steve) at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring; early registration by 9/1 Seattle: 10/19 (Lou), 10/20 (Steve) at the Seattle Central Library; early registration by 9/22 You can register for either or both courses at either of our sites. We provide discounts if you register early, if you sign up for both classes, and if three or more of you register at the same time. Steve and I hope to see you this fall!…

Jun 21, 2006: Another forthcoming Rosenfeld Media book   0 comments
Spotted this on the Rosenfeld Media announcements blog: Another signing: Indi Young will write a Rosenfeld Media book on alignment diagrams—mental models married to proposed features. Alignment Diagrams: Product design for real-life activities will show how to develop and use alignment diagrams to test design and business assumptions, and help shape a web site or application's structure and strategy. A founding partner of Adaptive Path, Indi has impressive experience developing these diagrams for clients from a wide variety of industries. We're thrilled to have Indi on board, and are greatly looking forward to publishing her book early next year. Please visit Indi's "book in progress" site, subscribe to the RSS feed, and spread the word! Yes, I'm excited, and I've really enjoyed working with Indi these past couple months. Indi's work seems to have a cult following, but it's high time for it to go mainstream. And I think it'll be a great complement to our growing lineup. Did I say I'm excited?…

Jun 19, 2006: Tentative Fall Seminar Dates   3 comments
Steve Krug and I are about 90% 100% sure that these will be the dates and venues for our fall seminars (Steve's on web usability, mine on enterprise IA): Chicago: September 14-15 Washington, DC: September 28-29 Seattle: October 19-20 More details and registration information coming soon...…

Jun 16, 2006: The Rolling Content Inventory   4 comments
Interesting back-and-forth about content inventories last month (can you tell I'm behind?) between Leisa Reichelt and Donna Maurer, as well as on the IAI-members discussion list. Leisa believes that the formalism of content inventories forces information architects to focus too much on what is, rather than what could be. Donna argues that foregoing content inventories leads to information architectures that are purely top-down, missing out on opportunities to improve content management, content integration, and contextual navigation. They're both somewhat right, naturally. But both views see content inventory in a traditional light as a one shot deal. And in our ever growing information environments (like, for example, enterprise settings), I'm just not convinced that this traditional approach to content inventory makes sense anymore. When you've got hundreds or thousands of distributed subsites and other pockets of content, you simply won't not know what's out there. If you send a spider on a content reconnaissance mission, you'll still likely…

Jun 13, 2006: Advice on web storefronts?   4 comments
I'd really appreciate any input on web storefronts. Rosenfeld Media needs to be able to fulfill advance orders by this fall. We'll ultimately be selling books in both print and as PDF files. Naturally, we have a limited budget, and little idea as to what it would cost to design and build a storefront from scratch. Existing commerce services like eSellerate and Yahoo Stores grab about 10%-15% per transaction, which seems high, at least for the long run. Here are a few back-of-the-envelope requirements: Apply Rosenfeld Media's branding to the storefront (and ideally originate from the rosenfeldmedia.com domain) Accept and, to some degree, manage discounts; discount codes would need to set to expire by a certain date or after a certain number of uses Securely accept payment via Visa, MasterCard, and American Express and integrate easily with a merchant account provider (e.g., Authorize.net) Generate…

Jun 13, 2006: Metadata survey   0 comments
Ron Daniel of Taxonomy Strategies and Seth Earley of Earley & Associates are running another metadata survey. Their goal is to determine: The business drivers behind an organization's Enterprise Search, Metadata & Taxonomy (SMT) efforts. The types of teams organizations use to achieve those goals, and The processes they employ to achieve those goals. Please take fifteen minutes to help them out; in return they'll comp you into a teleconference to discuss the results of the survey (part of Seth's Taxonomy Community of Practice series; a $50 value). Deadline is end of June; again, the survey link is here.…

Jun 12, 2006: IA Summer Institute in Seattle   0 comments
This is good to see: the University of Washington's iSchool and the IAI are co-sponsoring a five-day "Information Architecture Summer Institute" in Seattle, September 11-15. The instructors include such good people as Mike Crandall and Samantha Starmer, and the week promises the following benefits (quoting here): Designed and presented by faculty from the UW Information School in collaboration with practitioners from organizations that are leaders in information architecture. Participants gain theoretical and practical knowledge useful to project managers, taxonomists, Web designers and anyone who needs to successfully design large information structures to meet user needs and business requirements. Enables participants to experience a variety of architectural frameworks through interactive exercises using UW computers or their own laptops. For participants enrolled in a graduate program at UW, the course provides three hours of graduate credit. When I was on the IAI board, we initiated a discussion with UW to produce an event…

Jun 9, 2006: Search analytics book site is up and running   0 comments
For some months, Rich Wiggins and I have been chipping away at our book currently titled Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with your customers. We're about halfway done; if you'd like to read a sample chapter, learn more about and discuss the topic, and participate in developing the book's content, please check out our new "book in progress" site. There you'll also find a free Perl script for analyzing search logs, an excellent bibliography, and more. Over the coming months, the site will grow to include other free content from the book, surveys and survey results, and lots of other good stuff. Please check it out, spread the word, and let us know what you think. And of course, monitor our progress via this handy RSS feed. We hope to publish the book in January 2007.…

Jun 6, 2006: Sidewalk Rage   7 comments
Completely unrelated to information architecture, user experience, book publishing... Last Saturday, four of us were walking down our busy street's sidewalk, and had just begun crossing a quiet side street. Just then some wingnut pealed down the side street, almost plowed through us, ran the stop sign, and zoomed away going about 50mph in a 30mph zone. The other, more level-headed members of my party didn't say a word, but I was screaming and sputtering at the driver long after he was out of earshot. This is getting to be a regular occurrence here in supposedly pedestrian-friendly Ann Arbor. I've almost been run over about ten times in the past year, half of those times while pushing a stroller. For crying out loud. I imagine it's far worse for pedestrians in more car-centric communities. I own a car, and drive a couple times a week. But the day that gas hits six bucks a gallon can't come…

Jun 5, 2006: Three months back/ahead   1 comment
Hi all, apologies for the recent paucity of Bloug postings. I'm finally done with my spring travels which started in Sydney back in February, and ended in Philadelphia on Friday. I hate being away from MJ and Iris, but I had the opportunity to meet many of you and enjoy your hospitality. That made the road trip far more enjoyable; thanks so much. Regarding my Enterprise Information Architecture seminar, I've posted the PowerPoint deck for your perusal; over 260 slides of jam-packed IA action that weigh in at about 9Mb. Download away. Steve Krug and I will likely be visiting Seattle, Chicago, and Washington DC this fall; we should have our schedule set later this month. I'll be home in Ann Arbor the next three months, working on books: the search analytics book, with Rich Wiggins, which is about halfway done, and the third edition of the polar bear book, with Peter Morville, which…

May 16, 2006: Philadelphia Happy Hour, June 1   1 comment
Todd Warfel and his friends at Messagefirst are sponsoring our Philadelphia happy hour the night after my enterprise IA seminar (and the night before Steve Krug's web usability workshop). Wow, last seminars of the spring tour; that went fast. Anyway, happy hour details: Date: June 1, 2006 Time: 5:30 - 8:00 PM Location: Eulogy Bar, 136 Chestnut Street RSVP (recommended) to todd@messagefirst.com Everyone is welcome, not just our seminar attendees; we organize these happy hours to help people in the information architecture, content management, usability, interaction design, and broader user experience world socialize and network. So please spread the word; hope to meet you in Philadelphia this June!…

May 7, 2006: Who's worse, Accenture or the New York Times?   13 comments
I am really, really unhappy with my experience reading the New York Times right now (using Firefox 1.5.0.3 on a Mac). No matter what I do, this extremely annoying Accenture ad won't go away: I'm left with two questions: Is the New York Times Online really so hard up for money that they are willing to allow Accenture to alienate their readers? Does Accenture's very expensive association with a golfer make you want to go out and purchase their consulting services? I'm still hoping to learn which three Balkan countries Cheney was referring to. Can someone fill me in? …

May 3, 2006: Siderean mashes up entity extraction and faceted classification   1 comment
Here's a smart idea: Siderean is improving how faceted navigation works with semi-structured content by using entity extraction to build facets around proper names (people, places, companies, etc.). I love seeing smart combinations of approaches that don't always solve problems on their own; kudos to Siderean. Thanks to David Weinberger for the tip.…

Apr 21, 2006: Latest development on the UX publishing front   0 comments
Finally! I can formally announce that Rosenfeld Media is publishing Donna Maurer's book on card sorting. I can't think of a better person to address the topic, and card sorting perfectly fits RM's sweet spot of books on practical user experience methods. More book announcements coming soon... In the meantime, please visit the site we've dedicated to Donna's book (and subscribe to its RSS feed). We believe that books no longer should be monologues, certainly not in the age of the Internet. A site where dialogue can take place between author and others interested in the topic should lead to a better final product. Donna has kicked off the dialog with a short survey; please consider taking it and spreading the word.…

Apr 20, 2006: Happy hour in Austin, TX   0 comments
Steve Krug and I will be in Austin to teach our seminars on May 11 and 12. (Early registration deadline is tomorrow, April 21!) As usual, we've organized a happy hour for the evening of May 11; any and all user experience folk and miscellaneous web professionals are invited to network and socialize at this free event that frog design has been kind enough to sponsor. Details follow: Time: 5:30-8:00 PM Date: May 11th, 2006 Location: Capitol Brassiere, 310 Colorado (adjacent to the Alamo Drafthouse downtown) Admission: FREE EXTRA: Capitol Brassiere will be serving $2 domestic beer, half price on select wines and appetizers. Gotta love those $2 beers. Austin is such a party town; can't wait! Hope to see you there.…

Apr 3, 2006: In Tampa next week   0 comments
Just a quick reminder that I'll be in Tampa, Florida to teach my enterprise IA seminar on Tuesday, April 11. (Yes, still plenty of seats open; apparently the Tampa-St. Pete ain't exactly an IA hotbed.) Will probably do an informal happy hour afterward; please let me know if you're interested in getting together.…

Mar 29, 2006: From consulting to products and services   14 comments
(Updated this list October 4, 2006 and again on May 25, 2007; please keep the suggestions coming...) I'm back from Vancouver, and naturally I'm biased, but it was perhaps the best IA Summit yet. Over 580 attended, destroying last year's record of 400+. More important, the vibe was one of strong optimism without the irrational exuberance. In any case, mix Vancouver with over 500 really smart colleagues and you can't go wrong. One recent trend was evident at the Summit: information architects are moving away from consulting and toward developing their own products and services. At some point in the next decade or so, I'm convinced that "information people" will take their place alongside "numbers people" and "operations people" in C-level positions. But for now, they're becoming senior management the entrepreneurial way, via startup. I'd like to compile a list of IA-founded (or heavily influenced) products and services, and have made a start here: …

Mar 24, 2006: Vancouver-bound   2 comments
This morning I'll be heading to lovely Vancouver for the seventh ASIS&T IA Summit. (I still can't believe we've gotten this far. Seems like yesterday that Gary Marchionini, Vic Rosenberg, Dick Hill and I were plotting v1.0.) Please say hello if you get a chance. Tell me what you think about the nuts and bolts. Ask me for an update on the nascent publishing biz; I have some interesting show-and-tell. I'll also be participating in this excellent panel. Hope to see you there.…

Mar 21, 2006: Lovely History Graphics   3 comments
Dan Roam recently pointed me to HistoryShots, which creates and sells "history-related informational graphics that tell stories about subjects, time periods and events.". Great stuff for history geeks like me who have waded into the world of information design. I was especially grabbed by the histories of US political parties. What I'd really love to see are visualizations of the historical lineage of languages. Or of human migrations and the connections between ethnic groups, of which we'll know quite a lot soon thanks to genetic genealogy.…

Mar 18, 2006: Four Things...   5 comments
Because it's 2am, because I can't sleep, and mostly because I do whatever Rashmi Sinha tells me to do, here's my obligatory Four Things entry: Four Jobs I've Had Furniture Salesman Librarian Information Architect Publisher Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over The Godfather movies, but only with MJ Monty Python and the Holy Grail Contact Dr. Strangelove Four Books I recently enjoyed Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy (that's three!) Annie Proulx's The Shipping News Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel Dava Sobel's Longitude Four Places I've Lived Katonah, New York Ann Arbor, Michigan What was then Leningrad, USSR Greenwich Village, NYC Four TV Shows I Love Arrested Development The Simpsons Deadwood Curb Your Enthusiasm (don't love it, but can't avert my gaze) Four Places I've traveled to Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia Nordkap, Norway Tongariro National Park, New Zealand Yerevan, Armenia Four of My Favorite Dishes Homemade pasta with MJ's pasta sauce Brisket with Kasha Varnishkes (Mom and Auntie do it best) Chicken Tikka Masala at Shalimar, Ann Arbor Ethiopian feast at the Blue Nile, Ann Arbor Four Sites I Visit Daily Bloglines Baseball Prospectus New York Times Talking Points Memo Four Places I Would Rather…

Mar 14, 2006: Cute   0 comments
Prentiss Riddle just pulled this one out of the memepool: tagginess (explained here and here) I like.…

Mar 13, 2006: Free consulting from Steve Krug   0 comments
From Steve Krug's site: My publisher, Peachpit, is sponsoring a contest to promote Don't Make Me Think, and the prize is a usability review of your site--by me! Here's your chance to win a day of my time (retail value: $3,000). To enter, just head over to the contest entry page before March 31st and send them email with your name and address. (U.S. residents only; sorry about that.) Could it be any easier?…

Mar 6, 2006: PB3   0 comments
After two days in Sydney, I'm in NYC for a week or so of semi-vacation, family obligations, minimal connectivity, and good eatin'. My recent posting on developing a participation economy has gotten some meaty comments--some good, some quite curious--but it'll be a while before I'll have time to respond. In the meantime, a few quick and related announcements. Peter Morville and I have signed on with O'Reilly to write the third edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. So far, it's sold over 100,000 copies, and you'd think we be satisfied to let it site a while longer. But arms were twisted, threats were made, so here we are. We hope that you'll help us with the new edition by participating in a series of very brief surveys. You can take the first one here (only two questions!). We're also looking for an editorial assistant. Know anyone who might be interested? Send them here (63Kb PDF).…

Mar 2, 2006: Developing a Participation Economy   14 comments
Good intentions aren't always good enough Back at the 2002 IA Summit, Christina Wodtke and I were sitting on the floor of the Baltimore Marriott, amazed at how quickly the IA profession was growing, and wondering if it would be beneficial to have some sort of formal entity dedicated to serving the community. But what exactly needed to be created? As the discussion evolved over the coming months, an ever-larger group of us batted around a variety of ideas: professional association? guild? maintainer of community infrastructure? think tank? the IA version of the Santa Fe Institute? We never really nailed down our model, but by November of that year, the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture launched. Now called the Information Architecture Institute, I think it'd be safe to say that the IAI has been successful. It has over 800 members in about 40 countries. It has provided the IA community with a few…

Mar 2, 2006: Two days in Sydney   2 comments
Just got back last night from Sydney, where I taught my EIA seminar. I spent about 50 hours there in total, bookended by a pair of 24 hour air odysseys that included stops in Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. Why would I do such a silly thing? Well, eight months ago, when I agreed to come, a short trip sounded like an adventure (although, at the time, I didn't realized family commitments would further shorten my stay). Once you're sitting on the plane, though, the adventure sheds its mask to reveal the face of abject misguided stupidity. Mea culpa, back, butt and other parts that are worse for the wear. And thumbs-down to United Airlines for delivering my luggage two days late, literally five minutes before I had to catch my flight back home. But Sydney, was a great city! I've been twice now, for a total of about five days, three…

Feb 23, 2006: Design resources from the Design Council   0 comments
About Design looks like a promising resource; the UK's Design Council has pulled together useful information on a variety of design disciplines, ranging from information design to automotive design. Each section includes a variety of useful components, including definitions, examples, quotes, trends, events information, FAQs, tips, and further readings. As a UX person, I'm delighted. Although it'll be difficult to maintain evenly, it's a noble effort to aggregate a variety of design practices--and perspectives--in one place, and to do so with an especially practical bent. As an IA person, I'll admit to being a little disappointed at how sparingly information architecture is covered. No mention of the IAI, nor even a single book on IA! ;-) But it's hard to imagine that an effort like this one wouldn't slight a number of disciplines; I hope that over time they'll plug the gaps.…

Feb 19, 2006: Tight IA job market about to get tighter   4 comments
According to an article in Reuters, "IBM to invest $1 bln for 'info-on-demand" practice'. Looks like IBM will be grabbing a bunch of information architects, especially of the enterprise variety. Thanks to Michele Marut for the tip.…

Feb 16, 2006: Online Registration now available for spring 2006 seminars   0 comments
Yes, you can now register for both Steve Krug's and my spring 2006 seminars online, as well as via mail and fax. Go here for details. I regularly pepper Bloug readers with crass commercial announcements about my seminars every fall and spring. Sorry; got to make a living somehow. But maybe this would be a good time to answer any questions for those of you who might be considering going--or sending a colleague? Or who are wondering why on earth someone would be interested in attending a seminar on something called enterprise IA? Fire away and I'll do my best to answer your questions...…

Feb 14, 2006: Yahoo! Design Pattern Library Launches   0 comments
Erin Malone wants to spread the word that Yahoo!'s design patterns are now available for licensed (BSD) use: Since 2004, Yahoo! has been collecting and cataloging interaction design patterns in our internal Yahoo! Design Pattern Library. We have presented about it at conferences and in articles. But now we have opened it up for the public. This first release is small (just 13 patterns) but we will be adding to it over the next few months to round out the offerings in there. Lots of great stuff, including patterns for (and advice on when to use) breadcrumbs, pagination, and navigation tabs. There are plans to integrate it over time with Yahoo's User Interface Library. As the combined collection grows, it'll be very interesting to see how it's categorized. Thanks to Erin and her colleagues at Yahoo!…

Feb 10, 2006: All about portals   1 comment
Always wondered what a portal really is? James Robertson does an excellent job of clearly explaining the difference between portal as technology and portal as concept. He also provides a good list of portal pros and cons, and advice on how to position portals for success, although he concludes with a pessimistic view of portals future--as a technology. The concept will serve us well only if we make sure our portal projects are "driven by clear staff and organisational needs, as well as a clear vision of the user experience that must be delivered."…

Feb 9, 2006: Spring 2006 Seminars: Tampa, Austin, Philadelphia   0 comments
These dates and locations are 98% firm for Steve Krug's and my spring 2006 seminars: Tampa, FL: April 10 (Steve), April 11 (Lou) Austin, TX: May 11 (Lou), May 12 (Steve) Philadelphia, PA: June 1 (Lou), June 2 (Steve) As always, Steve will wow you with his workshop "Don't Make Me Think," based on the web usability classic that goes by the same name (now in its second edition). I'll be teaching "Enterprise Information Architecture," full of advice on how to tie together content from the user-hostile departmental silos that plague most enterprises. And, as always, discounts for three or more attendees, for early registration, and if you register for both seminars. These are all new cities for Steve and me, and we're looking forward to meeting new faces! We'll be organizing happy hours in each city; more details soon. Registration will be up and running soon; pop me an email if you want me to notify you when it's…

Feb 8, 2006: Surveys to Assess Search Experience   9 comments
A colleague asks: I'm looking for a list of survey questions that can be used to help assess users' search experiences. I need guidance on how to develop a formal, more quantifiable survey. At first glance, this seems to be such a sweet, innocent question. And if you know of any good examples, please post some links below. I couldn't come up with any off the top of my head. Beneath the surface lies some gnarly, messy stuff that information scientists have been arguing about for years. What constitutes search success? Finding stuff that answers your question, right? Yes, but not all questions are alike. On one extreme, we've got known-item searches, where there's a "right" answer to your question (e.g., "what was George W. Bush's birthplace?"); you've just got to find it. On the other end, we often are searching when we're not even quite sure what our question is, or how to articulate…

Jan 25, 2006: Latest on UXnet   0 comments
Just a couple brief UXnet notes: UXmatters magazine recently published an article by John Ferrara, Pabini Gabriel-Petit, and yours truly about our Local Ambassadors initiative. The gist is to have an individual who connects UX-related people, groups, and events in a given locale. There are now almost 70 local ambassadors in 55 locales in 21 countries. We'd certainly love to add you to the list; the article will give you a good sense of what's involved. I'm now a made man. I've joined the UXnet Advisory Board, along with Aaron Marcus, Don Norman, Ginny Redish, Marc Rettig and Patrick Whitney. Go team! …

Jan 24, 2006: IA Summit 2006: Registration and other details   2 comments
The seventh (SEVENTH!!!) ASIS&T Information Architecture Summit is coming up: Vancouver, BC; March 23-27. As always, a great mix of content, people, value, and location, especially in this case. Registration is now open; conference details follow: IA Summit 2006--"Learning, Doing, Selling" Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 23-27, 2006 The program is up and registration is open at www.iasummit.org Opening plenary: Dr. David Weinberger, author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, as this year's keynote speaker. Closing Plenary: Peter Merholz, a regular speaker at Web design and information architecture conferences, including the IA Summit, South by Southwest (SXSW), and the UI Conference. He is also writer whose work has appeared in several industry publications, including Digital Web magazine and Boxes and Arrows. Peter is an active member of the American Society of Information Science and Technology and ACM's SIG-CHI. And, of course, is IAI's current President. And 54 additional superb sessions in between, ranging from practice to research. Pre Conference…

Jan 23, 2006: Question of the Year   3 comments
In his most recent column, James Robertson of StepTwo asks: Why are we wasting our time with grand enterprise projects when there are so many more immediate problems to be fixed? Thank you, James. I ask all my enterprise IA seminar attendees to send me in advance their burning questions about the subject. The questions I receive are generally quite good but belie organizational goals that are far too ambitious and unrealistic. For a fraction of the millions spent on huge enterprise projects (most of which goes into purchasing a vendor's proprietary software and its consultants' time), enterprises could add best bets capability to their current search engine, and create guides to help users find appropriate resources to help them accomplish their five or ten most common tasks. The results would probably compare favorably with, say, those of an expensive enterprise portal implementation. And such small steps are the best way to help an enterprise along to a more…

Jan 13, 2006: Rosenfeld Media site goes live   1 comment
Friday the 13th; can't pick a better day to start something new... The web site for my new publishing house, Rosenfeld Media, launched this morning. Many thanks to Dave Shea of Bright Creative for his excellent work on the site's design and implementation. And to many, many others who've helped along the way. Feel free to kick the tires and spread the word. And I promise to get back to blogging about information architecture stuff soon! It's just that this start-up stuff takes a lot of time...…

Jan 8, 2006: Best Location for Seminars in Florida?   5 comments
Come April it'll be seminar season, and Steve Krug and I will be ramping up to teach Don't Make Me Think: the Workshop and Enterprise Information Architecture, respectively. We'd like to teach our seminars in Florida in April--probably the 10th and 11th--and are trying to get a sense of which area would be the best location. My preference is for somewhere in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm area. Orlando is another, and the third is Tampa/St. Pete/Sarasota. Any thoughts on where the UX industry has its densest/strongest Florida presence? Or where in the Sunshine State you'd want to attend our seminars? (BTW, other probable cities are Austin in May and Toronto in June; I'll definitely be in Sydney February 28.) Thanks for your advice.…

Jan 5, 2006: Integrating a Book's Web and Print Content   6 comments
As a follow up to my recent posting on what makes a good design book, I'd like to learn if there are some especially good examples of books that integrate print and web-based content. For example, a book might reference code samples available from a complementary web site. Or a web-based list of relevant applications might point back to a deeper discussion of those applications within the printed book. Maybe this kind of integration is really simpler than it appears. A book can point readers to a web page's URL. A web site can link to a book's citation, URL, and/or Amazon page. But I imagine that this integration could be achieved either with a consistent, elegant, usable visual language, or in a clunky crappy-looking after-the-fact sort of way. Or maybe there are some pretty cool things that really do go beyond simple pointers and links. Dunno; that's why I'm asking...…

Jan 4, 2006: 100 Big Ones   2 comments
Well, I made my first big purchase as a publisher today. No, I didn't sign a mega-deal with Edward Tufte, or acquire the movie rights for Information Anxiety. Actually, I went out and bought me 100 ISBNs. It was something of an impulse purchase, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with them now. So there they sit in the back of the Passat; I hope they don't get stale...…

Jan 4, 2006: Bloug to Accept Zeldman Coupons at Par   0 comments
Want to know a great way to really blast up your blog's traffic? Get Jeffrey to toss a link to your site from zeldman.com. Man oh man. My numbers have just about doubled. While I've got your attention, I'd love all you new visitors to consider taking my brief local site search analytics survey. It's sort of fun and somewhat easy and even slightly quick. And it might get you mentioned in my next book. Learn more here. And to check out some greatest hits from the Bloug archive, visit the "Popular Resources" area on the Bloug main page.…

Dec 26, 2005: Thank you, Andrew Dillon   0 comments
Andrew Dillon, Dean of the University of Texas School of Information, has published his final IA column for the Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (BASIS&T). He's been at it for five years; wow, that went fast. Andrew has lent a much-needed academic perspective to IA, although I suspect that he is something of an iconoclast when it comes to academics. Certainly, his take on IA goes far beyond its connection to academia, and I'll miss reading his columns. The good news is that Stacy Surla, who did such a wonderful job as program chair for the 2005 IA Summit, is taking over as the column's editor, and is seeking columns from guest contributors. (Details for future contributors are provided at the bottom of Andrew's last column.) Special request for Stacy: any chance of getting the entire column archive made available free via the Web?…

Dec 19, 2005: Woof (or, what makes for a good design book?)   34 comments
I've had dozens of informal conversations about my new gig over the past few months. (Rosenfeld Media is my new start-up, a publishing house that will produce short, practical books on user experience design.) And in almost every case, I find myself recycling an old Argus colleague's saying: "You've got to eat your own dog food." In this current context, I'm referring to the need of a UX publisher to inform its own design decisions by utilizing UX methods. By "design decisions," I mean two things specifically: 1) determining which books to publish, and 2) determining which features and formats these books should employ. From my limited research, it seems that many conventional publishers don't bother with user research other than occasional focus groups. Decisions get left to acquisitions editors and marketing staff, with little or no input from actual users (namely, potential readers). I'd like Rosenfeld Media to do things differently, and really involve users…

Dec 14, 2005: Want to be in my next book?   0 comments
Rich Wiggins and I are making progress on our book on internal site search analytics. We'd been casting about for good sidebar material, and Rich had a fantastic idea: ask webmasters to list their site's most frequent 20-100 searches--and how many results each retrieved--for inclusion in the book. Then ask the webmasters to include a brief interpretation of the most interesting (or bizarre) aspects of those common searches (e.g., "I think the reason users keep searching for SKU numbers is..."). If we use your information, we'll mention you and thank you in the book. Sound interesting? Then complete this very brief survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=63481578920 Rich and I really appreciate your response; please forward the URL on to anyone else who might be interested in completing the survey.…

Dec 5, 2005: Finding Users in Enterprise Environments   3 comments
My pal Dean Karavite, until recently a usability specialist in an unspeakably huge enterprise environment, wrote to me about his challenges finding subjects for user studies. Anyone familiar with enterprise environments knows how difficult it is to come up with a sample that's even remotely representative of the 14,127 audience segments typically encountered in enterprise settings. Some of the barriers are obvious--subjects are geographically distributed, they speak many languages, and there are just so many of them--but the biggest challenges are usually political. Often, you'll need the cooperation of product managers and business units to get in touch with the users they're closest to. But for reasons that range from logistical challenges and being hard to reach, to ignorance of the value of testing and even spite, your colleagues won't always help you contact sample users. How did Dean deal with it? With the time-honored good old-fashioned "do it yourself" approach required for getting things done…

Nov 30, 2005: This really ticks me off   8 comments
From an announcement on the UK Design Council's site: The UK public will be given the chance to help design the places where they live, work and play - and the services they use - as part of a £50 million, ten-year initiative to re-design the UK that begins in North East England in 2007... The aim each time will be to improve national life through design. Here are the 2004 GDP per capita figures for the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the CIA World Factbook: United Kingdom: US$29,600 United States: US$40,100 And how much is the US federal government spending to improve national life through design? Look, £50 million is a drop in the bucket, especially when spread out over 10 years. Annually, it works out to US$0.14 per citizen. But apparently the government of the country that has a 35% higher GDP would prefer to spend US$0 per citizen. Sacrificing a bridge to nowhere would…

Nov 22, 2005: Search Analytics or Search Log Analysis?   11 comments
As I've blogged here before, Rich Wiggins and I are writing a book on search log analysis. Or are we? We're wondering if it would be better to use the term "search analytics" instead of "search log analysis," as commercial analytics vendors seem to be moving away from relying on logs. For example, Measure Map and Google Analytics, if I understand them correctly, don't mess with logs at all. Instead, you insert a few lines of code in your page templates which enable these services to monitor the stream of users' actions--including searches--continuously. So, no logs, though you might still gather the same kind of data that search logs would produce (and then some). Another reason for switching rather than fighting: the term "search log analysis" is a familiar one in the IA world. But where else? If you Google it, you'll find 516 results. "Search analytics" retrieves 19,500 results. Is there a…

Nov 16, 2005: 251 Slides   5 comments
I'm not sure why, but enough people have now asked me to make my Enterprise IA seminar slides available. All 251. Fine, it's here (8.6Mb PPT). I've resisted making them public for a long time. Not because of some petty proprietary personality defect, but because they mean so little without verbal explanation. I only jump through around a small subset (50?) of them each time I teach the day-long seminar, depending on the audience and whether I've eaten my Wheaties that morning. Anyway, they're now available; damn the Tuftes and download away! PS We're considering these seminar stops for 2006: Sydney (confirmed for February 28), Austin, Toronto, Chicago, DC, and Seattle. Will know more in a couple months.…

Nov 15, 2005: European IA Discussion List   0 comments
More good IA news from the other side of the Atlantic, passed along by InfoDesign's Peter Bogaards: I'm happy to annouce the EuroIA mailinglist: lists.informationdesign.org/mailman/listinfo/euroia The list is one of the results of the first European ASIS&T IA Summit 2005 in Brussels of last weekend. It is the online conversational platform for researchers and practitioners in the field of Information Architecture in an European context. The list is intended to focus on issues of an European dimension within information architecture. The idea is to strengthen the community of European information architects. Topics like historical roots, mobile design, multilingual and multicultural aspects of IA are very relevant for EuroIAs.…

Nov 14, 2005: Doggedly Clearing My Backlog of Links   4 comments
Good news: the first Italian IA Summit takes place in Rome, February 24, 2006. Presentations proposals are due January 15. Wish I could go; I've never been to Roma. More good news: the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) has formally incorporated and elected an executive committee, with Robert Reimann as its president. The IxDA is off to an excellent start, and I'm happy to support it as a member of its advisory board. More on enterprise search: FreePint has published Martin White's "Enterprise Search Guidebook" (US$70 single-site/US$211 multi-site). No, I haven't read the whole report yet, but if Martin wrote it, I would expect it to be an excellent resource. As an instructional tool, Martin's report seems to be a useful complement to Stephen Arnold's recent "Enterprise Search Report," which focuses more on the search engine marketplace. Don't know what to make of this, but it sounds fascinating: check out Amazon's new Mechanical Turk service.…

Nov 12, 2005: Tony Byrne Interview   2 comments
Digital Web is running my interview with Tony Byrne, content management expert and editor of the excellent CMS Watch site. Tony offers valuable advice on the CMS selection process (try them out with real users before purchasing!), riffs on centralization versus local control, and how IA and other UX people can help improve CMS implementations.…

Nov 10, 2005: UXmatters Launches   0 comments
I'm glad to be an advisor to the brand spanking new UX-dedicated magazine, UXmatters. The first issue came out last weekend during DUX, and features initial contributions from a stellar lineup: Dan Brown: no, not the "da Vinci Code" guy, but an excellent IA writer nonetheless, and quite involved in the IAI Dirk Knemeyer: board member at the AIGA Center for Brand Experience, the IIID, and UXnet Whitney Quesenbery: UPA president and UXnet board member Robert Reimann: IxDA president and co-author, with Alan Cooper, of About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design Luke Wroblewski: author of Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability A veritable alphabet soup, but that's a good sign: as an interdisciplinary pursuit, UX needs all those acronyms involved to succeed. Kudos to publisher Pabini Gabriel-Petit for pulling it off; if the momentum continues, UXmatters will be required reading for the entire industry.…

Nov 9, 2005: IA Summit 2006--Deadline Extended to November 15   0 comments
...so get crackin'. Here's the announcement from the superlative Stacy Surla: The IA Summit Call for Papers has been extended to November 15. We are seeking proposals for presentations, case studies, panels, posters, and pre-conference workshops for the 2006 Information Architecture Summit. For the first time we have added a peer-reviewed research session type, and we encourage submissions highlighting IA research or theory. Go to http://www.iasummit.org/2006/call.htm for information and to submit. We welcome submissions from practitioners, academics, and students. We also want to hear from developers, business analysts, managers, and others who work with information architects and/or deal with information architecture. Submissions for regular sessions and research sessions will accepted through November 15; poster submissions will be accepted through December 5. The 2006 IA Summit is March 23-27, 2006, in Vancouver, Canada. See http://www.iasummit.org for more information. …

Nov 8, 2005: The Memetic Web   0 comments
Peter Morville already beat me to it, so I won't re-hash Bob Doyle's concept of the Memetic Web here. I do think there's promise in tagging a document with metadata that's both unique and meaningful, especially in closed sites like intranets, where abuses are likely to be minimized, and using vocabularies made up of unique IDs, like zip codes and ISBNs (more descriptive metadata will be a hassle). I'm not sure that users will be comfortable or, for that matter, able to express their queries in a syntax ((here's one for zip codes: "MEMOZIP-02138-6707") that is intended to be more computer-readable than human-readable. There may be exceptions of course; if, for example, I'm looking for information on a specific book, it'd be pretty handy to learn how to plug a ISBN into Bob's memetic syntax. But all in all, it'll be difficult to achieve a critical mass of memetically-motivated users to justify content producers' investments in tagging…

Nov 7, 2005: Sydney in February   0 comments
It's a few months away, but a heads-up to you Aussie and Kiwi Bloug readers: I'll be in Sydney February 28 to teach my enterprise information architecture seminar. Key Forums is my gracious host, and you can register via their site. More info will be available (e.g., post-seminar happy hour venue) as plans firm up. Hope to meet some of you in Sydney!…

Nov 3, 2005: Usability Events around the World   1 comment
Today is the first World Usability Day! The map tells a truly amazing story...…

Oct 28, 2005: Going to DUX?   4 comments
I'm headed there next week. If you're going, stop and say hello. And if you have advice for me on my startup (a new publishing house dedicated to short, practical user experience books), please let me know. Thoughts on the following would be welcome in person at DUX (or right here on Bloug): Quality: What makes a good book? And what makes a good book on designing user experiences? Gaps: What UX topics are really begging to be covered? Marketing: What are some smart, creative ways to promote UX-related books? If you were starting a UX publishing house, what would you be considering/doing right now?…

Oct 13, 2005: Seattle Happy Hour, October 20   0 comments
Just a quick note to you fortunate residents of the Puget Sound area: immediately after my 10/20 enterprise IA seminar, Steve Krug and I would like you to join us at an industry happy hour, sponsored by Avenue A/Razorfish. It takes place from 6-8pm at the Pike Pub & Brewery in Pike Place Market (1415 First Avenue). All IAs, usability, interaction design, content management, and other assorted UX folk are welcome. Space is limited and a bunch of folks have already RSVPd. Nail down a seat by emailing Ethan Maehl (ethan.maehl at avenuea-razorfish.com) or calling 206 816-8835. Hope to see you there!…

Oct 5, 2005: My New Gig   16 comments
How come I'm not blogging lately? Typical reasons, ranging from lots of travel (hey, still a few seats left for my Seattle seminar!), to project work and book writing, to, sadly, some serious family illnesses. But there is one reason that might stand out: I'm starting a new company. And no, it's not Argus II. (IA consulting firm? Been there, done that.) I'm starting a new publishing house dedicated to user experience design books. Short and highly practical titles focused on specific methods and practices, rather than technologies or broad perspectives. I'm convinced that the age of the 500 page "what and why" book is over; for the most part, we get it already. We know what UX and related fields are, and why they're important. What we need moving forward are brief 100-150 page books that show us how to use methods to make and defend our design decisions. (The…

Sep 14, 2005: Two New Books   1 comment
Two great friends have new books out that are well worth reading: One you already know: the second edition of Steve Krug's classic Don't Make Me Think! has just come out. Three new chapters "...that explain why people really leave Web sites (Usability as Common Courtesy), how to make sites usable and accessible (Web Accessibility, CSS, and You), and the art of surviving executive design whims (Help! My Boss Wants Me to ____), plus a new preface and updated recommended reading." $23.10 from Amazon, and already at #771 on their sales ranking list. Also ascending Amazon's hit parade is Peter Morville's new book, Ambient Findability. "The book's central thesis is that information literacy, information architecture, and usability are all critical components of this new world order." The zoo's not the same since Peter left me with the rest of the polar bears and shambled over to the lemur cage. $19.77 from Amazon. Way to go guys!…

Sep 2, 2005: How Might IAs Help Disaster Victims?   5 comments
Hi all, I just heard from Alan Gutierrez, an old friend who lived in New Orleans for a few years. He's set up a wiki to help reconnect students and staff from a local college with their families. Although maintaining the wiki quickly outstripped Alan's time and energy, families and individuals have started taking on the work themselves. It's been a wonderful example where one person with a little bit of technology can help people in need, and ultimately enable a community repair itself. (Alan's written up his experience on his blog.) Alan wishes more could be done--more wikis for more communities in New Orleans and other hurricane-stricken areas. One of the biggest challenges is simply organizing the huge amounts of content that's already available, and getting it in a usable, presentable form in wiki-space. Hmmm... Who do we know that's good at doing that? I've suggested that Alan assemble a "to-do" list in his wiki…

Sep 2, 2005: Chicago Seminars   0 comments
Erp. Sorry, should have posted this sooner: if you're planning on attending Steve Krug's and my Chicago seminars (September 29-30), the early registration deadline is today. Steve is teaching his Don't Make Me Think workshop, and I'll be teaching Enterprise Information Architecture. Also, VSA Partners and UXnet are sponsoring a UX/IA/usability professionals happy hour the evening of my seminar (5:30-7:30pm, September 29). Location is The Blue Water Grill, 520 North Dearborn Street (at Grand Avenue). Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails are provided; space is limited so RSVP by emailing event@vsapartners.com…

Aug 31, 2005: Mac OS X Thesaurus Tool   0 comments
This looks interesting: "Cognatrix is a native Mac OS X ("Cocoa/Aqua") application for thesaurus construction... Cognatrix is fully self-contained and does not depend upon any database packages or third-party applications." Tree view, list view, and more from an Aussie company called LGO Systems; don't know anything about them or the software, but nice to see the area of thesaurus construction/maintenance tools being addressed. US$499/single user copy.…

Aug 30, 2005: Do Not Force, Obligate, Regulate, or Require...   0 comments
Nice short piece by James Robertson on "losing the language of enforcement" that centralized enterprise teams often use when communicating with decentralized individuals and groups, such as content authors. James provides a nifty list of banned words (e.g., "regulations," "compliance"), and suggests taking a "leadership and coaching role" when communicating with authors. I agree, although leadership and coaching don't come naturally to everyone. Nor does an entrepreneurial approach, where the central team approaches decentralized players as clients (anyone who has attended my EIA seminar will tell you that I'm a big proponent of this approach). Really, the best place to start is to consider the communication strengths found among members of a central team. Play to those strengths, and balance them against the communication styles that go over best with the authors and anyone else with whom you're negotiating. Another example of common sense stuff that's all-too-often uncommon...…

Aug 25, 2005: Social Tools as Shared Interest Syndicators   5 comments
Found myself in a Brooklyn cafe this morning with Michael Angeles. I love talking with Michael, one of the quiet heroes of the IA community, and I always come away from our conversations inspired. This time, we were discussing ideas around connecting people who share common interests, like art or sports. Certainly it's becoming easier to do; just look at how successful Flickr is at connecting people who enjoy similar photos. Michael and I started wondering about what could be done with the data that future folksonomy-driven services will inevitably capture about users. For example, a sports memorabilia site might allow users to tag items for sale. As might a music related site, or heck, even eBay. Once we have genre-specific data on users' shared interests, we could to some pretty cool stuff. For example, imagine such a service licensing and syndicating its information on shared music interests to a dating site. Now…

Aug 24, 2005: Survey on Search, Metadata, and Taxonomy Practices   0 comments
Ron Daniel of Taxonomy Strategies and Seth Earley of Seth Earley & Associates are running an interesting series of surveys to profile contemporary enterprise search, metadata, and taxonomy practices. Even if you don't have all the answers, you'll learn a lot from just reading through the questions. The first survey takes about 15 minutes to complete; deadline is September 23.…

Aug 18, 2005: Researching Search Log Analysis   8 comments
Based on my recent posting, it might not come as a huge surprise that I'm co-authoring (with Rich Wiggins) a new book on search log analysis (SLA). I'm happy to report that we're already a couple chapters deep and I'm actually enjoying the process of writing, which usually requires a lot more self-discipline than my genetic programming supports. I'm gung-ho on SLA because it seems so obvious, and yet it's still uncommon in the worlds of UCD and, more broadly, web design. Rich and I hope our book helps clear away many barriers to SLA--practical, technical, and political--by collecting both how-to info and justification in a single, short book. Naturally, we hope we can draw on the wisdom of the masses. One starting point is a list of software tools that generate reports from search logs. Some are search engines, like MondoSoft; others are separate analytics tools, like WebTrends. (And of course, some of us roll…

Aug 12, 2005: DC Seminars Deadline   0 comments
The early registration deadline for the Washington, DC editions of Steve Krug's web usability workshop and my enterprise IA seminar is one week away (August 19). Register by then and you'll save US$100. Steve and I will be at the Cafritz Conference Center at GWU September 15-16, and the customary happy hour will be somewhere in Georgetown the night of September 15. Hope to see you there!…

Aug 4, 2005: Another QotD   0 comments
Steve Arnold, writing on enterprise search in the latest CMS Watch: "The truth is that nothing associated with locating information is cheap, easy, or fast." Au contraire Steve; I've been known to be cheap, easy, and occasionally fast. Anyway, Steve's article is well worth a read both for the trends and Steve's observations. Another Arnold quote, this of the "how many more times will people have to hear it" variety: "...the enterprise search community is turning full circle or rediscovering what indexers have known since scrolls were rolled as pushed into clay tubes at Ephesus. Humans and human-like processes are needed to supplement or do certain types of taxonomy development, indexing, classification and analysis." Right on, man.…

Aug 2, 2005: Mixed News from Germany   1 comment
James Kalbach summarizes the recent German IA Summit in the latest issue of Boxes and Arrows. Turnout was good--more than expected--but despite a number of positive signs, James summarizes the current situation as "bleak on the whole". Still, there were some very interesting presentations at the meeting; give James' article a quick read to get a sense of the state of the field in Germany.…

Jul 29, 2005: Search Log Analysis and the Long Tail   9 comments
As Vilfredo Pareto, Mr. 80/20, might have predicted, a site's search queries can be universally displayed as Zipf Distributions. For example, Rich Wiggins, who analyzes Michigan State University's search logs, tells me "that out of 250,000 unique queries, 500 or so at the top are 40% of the total, and 1000 or so covers 50% or more." Search log analysis (SLA) is a rational attempt to make sense of these distributions by focusing on those most popular queries. Finding patterns among the popular queries helps us determine how to best allocate resources for improving the search experience. We might, for example, decide to develop best bet search results for the 100 most common queries, and see if we need to plug content gaps for those top 500 queries that retrieve 0 results. In IA terms, a little of this type of effort can go quite a long way. Addressing the top 500 queries makes good sense…

Jul 28, 2005: Quote of the Day   0 comments
"A shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un a flot" (or "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy"). --Max Weinrich, Yiddish linguist, quoted in a recent New York Times article on linguistics For more fun with linguistics, including a strong case that there really are no languages, read John McWhorther's Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language".…

Jul 27, 2005: IA of Sound   13 comments
Greg Phillips writes: I'm an IA in Los Angeles and have recently been offered an interesting position involving a voice-enabled system that will be running as a virtual customer service rep. The position is slated as a Business Analyst position, but they've offered me the job because of my development and IA background. They're entering really deep waters with this project, with loads of old and new data and no clear sense of what they're dealing with, other than subject matter experts and technology experts. I'm sensing there is going to be a lot of typical IA work just dealing with this information. But it's not a visual app, so I'm curious if you know of any IAs or resources that have begun to address doing IA for sound. And specifically the design and usability factors. Has anybody worked in this or written anything about it--beyond the theoretical? I've scoured IAwiki, Boxes and Arrows, yours…

Jul 26, 2005: Bitching and Moaning about Borders   11 comments
Bumming around Ann Arbor this morning, I popped into Borders store #1 (Ann Arbor is Borders' hometown). I have a love-hate relationship with Borders. Back in olden times, when there was but one Borders on the planet, we Michigan library school students couldn't imagine a better place to land (aside from an actual library, but they weren't exactly snapping us up at the time). A few years later, Borders was Argus's first big client, and we struggled to drag them into the Web era, giving up in frustration just about the time Amazon launched. (First consulting gigs are like first loves: intense, passionate, and doomed.) As Borders exploded from one store to 460, certain aspects of its service, um, declined. I sensed that today when I found the polar bear book classified under "Web Services," rather than in the "Web Design" section where it belongs. I mentioned this to the guy responsible for the…

Jul 25, 2005: World's Oldest Information Architect?   3 comments
Mariano Amartino's abuelita, 89 years old, has a message for the folks at O'Reilly (which I've taken the liberty to translate): "Where the heck is the Spanish version of the second edition of the Polar Bear? Enough waiting already! You should be very, very ashamed of yourselves." More from Mariano...…

Jul 22, 2005: IA-Friendly Events and More   2 comments
It's summer cleaning time for my "to blog" folder; some of these might belong on your radar: Taxonomy Community of Practice (Seth Earley) Seth runs these meetings via a monthly conference call, and I've heard great things about them. Next one ("Best Practices in Taxonomy Deployment") is Wednesday, July 27, 2005, 2pm EDT. Margie Hlava of Access Innovations, Theresa Regli of Molecular and Seth will lead the discussion and hold a "taxonomy clinic" with Tom Vaughn of FreddieMac. more info European IA Summit--CFP (ASIS&T) "The first European Information Architecture (IA) Summit's focus is on building the IA community in Europe. The objective of the event is to bring together a number of disciplines and practitioner communities by providing a stimulating environment for debate and an opportunity for establishing cooperation." The Summit takes place October 15-16, 2005 in Brussels; papers are due July 31. more info DUX 2005 Designing User Experiences 2005 is scheduled for November 3-5, 2005, in San Francisco,…

Jul 19, 2005: (No) UX Gurus   13 comments
In a response to my recent blog entry regarding search experts, James Robertson changed the subject a bit, wondering "who are the current 'user experience'/'usability' gurus?" I'm glad he did, because it's a great question. James mentions Jakob Nielsen and Steve Krug. Jakob and Steve are, IMHO, experts in usability, not user experience. UX is far broader than usability, IA, interaction design, and the many other related fields. Some of the UX diagrams assembled by Luke Wroblewski provide good takes on how UX and established disciplines are related. I'd also argue that UX is not a field or a discipline, but an emerging awareness that's perhaps on its way to becoming a movement. I doubt that such an interdisciplinary area is likely to emerge as a full-fledged discipline any time soon, if ever. And perhaps there should never be a UX discipline, if that means homogeneity in how we think about and practice design. There…

Jul 18, 2005: Crabby Interviewee   0 comments
David Moore interviewed me recently for iQcontent, an Irish web design newsletter. Read as I gripe and bitch about silver bullets, search systems, managers, and architects. Don't know why I was in such a crappy mood...…

Jul 15, 2005: Search Experts: Who? What?   16 comments
After a bit of an inadvertent summer break, it's time to get back to blogging... Back in May, I shared my shortlist of taxonomy experts here on Bloug. My primary motivation was to store this data in a somewhat more reliable location than my frontal lobe; hopefully you'll also find it useful should you be in the market for a taxonomy expert. The initial list has grown a bit, as a number of specialists have asked to be added, and I'll be glad to continue maintaining the list. Along the same lines, I thought I should generate a list of search experts. For some reason, this seems far, far more difficult. There are independent consultants that I can claim to actually know, like Avi Rappaport and Gregg Notess. There are also those that I've heard and read, like Steve Arnold and perhaps John Battelle. But not a lot of names spring to mind. There are also lots…

Jun 20, 2005: Fall Seminars: Washington, Chicago, Seattle   0 comments
I'll have the details soon, but figured I should get the word out about dates and locations for Steve Krug's and my fall seminars ASAP: Washington, DC: September 15 (Lou), September 16 (Steve) Chicago, IL: September 29 (Lou), September 30 (Steve) Seattle, WA: October 20 (Lou), October 21 (Steve) As usual, I'll be teaching my seminar on Enterprise Information Architecture, and Steve will be teaching his web usability workshop. Discounts will be available for early registration, volume registration (three or more), and for registering for both seminars. Please mark your calendars for now; registration will be open here soon. Hope to see you this fall! Update: Registration is now open.…

Jun 7, 2005: Information Architecture Columns   3 comments
Great to see that Digital Web magazine is running a regular IA column, "Information Architecture for the People," by Joshua Kaufman. The latest column is full of useful practical advice, and I'm looking forward to Joshua's future columns. I've been in list-making mode lately; what other regular IA features and columns are there? Here's my list of past and present columns; let me know what I may be missing and I'll make additions: Bulletin of ASIS&T's "IA Column" (Andrew Dillon; 2000-present) CIO Magazine's "A Closer Look: Critical Reviews of Corporate Websites" (Louis Rosenfeld; 2000--don't laugh at the cheesy photo please) Digital Web's "IAnything Goes" (Jeff Lash; 2002-2004) Digital Web's "Information Architecture for the People" (Joshua Kaufman; 2005-present) Semantic Studios' "Semantics" (Peter Morville; 2001-present) Web Review's "Web Architect" (Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, Samantha Bailey, Steve Toub; 1995-1999) :: whereabouts unknown since Doctor Dobbs acquired Web Review's content (and what was the point of that?) …

Jun 5, 2005: Moving up the Food Chain   16 comments
I have this fantasy that in about ten or twenty years, companies will hire "information guys" as senior managers just like they hire "numbers guys" and "process guys" today. Am I just dreaming? It's not uncommon for organizations to bring on leaders whose expertise trumps their lack of familiarity with a new employer's products and services. Might some smart IA-turned-CEO turn around Ford in 2020, before moving on to a completely different business (say, Merck) a few years later?…

May 27, 2005: Denver This Time   0 comments
Yep, another enterprise IA seminar (in Denver, 9am-5pm, June 2), followed by another everyone's-invited happy hour (at the Celtic Tavern, 18th & Blake, 6-8pm, June 2), followed by Steve Krug's web usability workshop (9am-5pm, June 3). And yep, I blog essentially the same announcement for each of the six cities Steve and I visit each year. I'm by no means tired of the seminars or the happy hours, just these announcements (as I'm sure you are too). Sorry; but I'm not sure there's a better way to do it. There are still some seats open at both seminars, so last minute shoppers are welcome.…

May 26, 2005: Taxonomy Experts   6 comments
Seems like I get asked for names of taxonomy specialists frequently, so I thought I'd just publicize my list here on Bloug. Katherine Bertolucci, Isis Information Services, Phoenix, Arizona, USA Joseph Busch/Ron Daniel, Taxonomy Strategies, San Francisco, California, USA Madonnalisa Chan, Hong Kong/San Francisco, California, USA Seth Earley, Earley & Associates, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Jean Graef, Montague Institute, Montague, Massachusetts, USA Melvin Jay Kumar, Singapore Fred Leise, ContextualAnalysis, Chicago, Illinois, USA Marcia Morante, KCurve, New York, New York, USA Tom Reamy, KAPS Group, San Francisco, California, USA Amy Warner, Lexonomy, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA Leonard Will, Willpower Information, Middlesex, UK Some I've worked with closely, others I've just heard of. They're all independent consultants based in the US, so naturally the list is far from complete. Send me more and I'll add them. June 7, 2005 Update: I've added some additional names, and have added locations for each consultant.…

May 24, 2005: How Many of Us?   7 comments
A colleague from Joe knows writes: Hi Lou: I have a simple--but not easy--task ahead of me. I'm trying to quantify the size of the U.S. market that includes information architects, web designers, and UI and UX specialists. Beyond looking at their respective associations, where might I go for this information? The U.S. Department of Labor does not yet have a number, even for IAs. Can you help point me in the right direction? Great question. And I'm not sure where to begin. Any advice out there?…

May 23, 2005: IA Summit 2006   0 comments
It's never too early to mark your calendar for the IA Summit. This one will take place in lovely Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 23-27, 2006. You can help shape the key topics that will be covered at the Summit by completing a survey. Unfortunately, I'm running behind in my PR bloggage; I think the survey will be closing tomorrow morning. Update: The survey results are now available from the IA Summit web site.…

May 23, 2005: Righteous Griping on Enterprise Search   2 comments
Peter van Dijck and I participated in the Enterprise Search Summit last week in NYC. We both came away feeling the search engine vendors still don't think a whole lot about how their products work for end users. Which is sad. Search engine vendors should at least provide best bets functionality, especially in an enterprise environment. But many vendors still don't offer this basic tool, and, as Peter found, some don't even know what the term "best bets" means. Read on... PS Feel free to download my keynote presentation (1.2Mb PPT) on enterprise findability.…

May 22, 2005: IAI Retreat in New York Metro Area   0 comments
I missed out on the first IAI Retreat, held in Asilomar, California, which people are still talking about seven months later. And unfortunately I'll probably miss the next one, which takes place October 7-9, 2005, in Briarcliff Manor, New York (just a quick train ride north from NYC). But you don't have to; lead organizer Anders Ramsay assures me there are still several open spots. It's relatively inexpensive and highly participatory; in fact, you might consider making a presentation while you're there.…

May 20, 2005: 40   10 comments
Happy round-numbered birthday to me. It doesn't feel like anything more than an arbirtrary milestone, though I imagine I should feel fortunate about surviving life on earth this long. (Median lifespan in Botswana, according to the CIA World Fact Book: 34.) I'm definitely grateful for family, friends, and health. And having a toddler keeps you too busy to bother with midlife crises. Really, 40 seems about the right age to be a father to a one year-old: old enough to afford family health insurance and know a thing or two about the world, but young enough to chase Iris up and down the sidewalk. Another enjoyable aspect of my late 30s has been blogging, the 1484 reader comments as much as the 341 entries. Hard to picture myself as a blogger in ten years though. Will I still be firing up some form of Movable Type? Will blogging be seen as…

May 18, 2005: Experimenting with Tagging   15 comments
Do you use del.icio.us? And are you interested in enterprise information architecture? Then consider tagging your EIA bookmarks with the tag "enterprise_ia". If at least a few of us start doing this, then, as the tag gods suggest, we'll all benefit from each other's research by monitoring the tag at "http://del.icio.us/tag/enterprise_ia". Please spread the word to anyone who you think might be interested. I'm hoping others do this for more than the purely selfish reason of being interested in enterprise IA. My RSS aggregator currently includes tag feeds for "information architecture," "user experience," and many of their common variants. I've found that monitoring these tags is a sort of useful way to keep up with these two areas. But only sort of. I'd really prefer to track more specific topics (like enterprise IA or search log analysis), as I assume I'd be exposed to fewer, more specialized, and therefore more useful results. …

May 18, 2005: Another Enterprise Roadmap   0 comments
James Melzer has developed an impressive roadmap (268Kb PDF) for Enterprise Content Management in Context. After your initial review you may be overwhelmed, as I was, but don't worry: take a deeper look and you'll find it quite useful. James' roadmap is designed to show how enterprise content management and EIA fit together in the US federal government environment (you'll find it useful for other types of enterprises as well). It's a great way to get the diverse types of people involved on the same page: records managers, enterprise architects, information architects, librarians, content managers, IT staff, and managers. Read James' blog entry for more details and comments.…

May 10, 2005: Google Acquires nForm   5 comments
Well, not exactly, at least not yet, but they ought to at least hire nForm to implement this great idea from nForm's Gene Smith: Last year at work we were kicking around a product idea (codename: Shreveport) that would log users' outbound search terms as well as the results they select. And through some algorithmic mojo these things would create ad hoc communities of interest, where you could find people with similar interests based on what they searched for. It would also enhance recovery, findability and discoverability of information by "attaching" search terms to URL... Read on; brilliant stuff.…

May 4, 2005: Boston Happy Hour--May 12   0 comments
Steve Krug and I will be hosting a happy hour next Thursday evening (5/12) after my seminar and we hope you'll join us. Our generous sponsors are Avenue A|Razorfish and mediumbold. We'll be at Casablanca, which is right downstairs from the Brattle Theater (40 Brattle Street) from 6 pm to 8 pm on Thursday, May 12th. We're inviting people from the Boston area information architecture and usability communities to join us, so this will be a great way to meet your local colleagues. Space is limited, so if you're coming you need to RSVP by emailing rsvp@sensible.com.…

May 3, 2005: Updated Enterprise IA Roadmap   10 comments
I've finally found a little time to update my Enterprise IA Roadmap (57Kb PDF file). (The first version--46Kb PDF--dates to August, 2003). Although it's the basis for the design section of my EIA seminar, I'm hopeful that anyone who is dealing with the "silo" problem might find it useful, seminar or not. If nothing else, it's a decent straw man to get people thinking differently about how to organize information inside a large, distributed, and politicized enterprise setting. In other words, if the progression of steps I've laid out in the Roadmap doesn't work for you, at least you'll have a starting point to react to and improve upon. Below are some basic about using the Roadmap. There is a lot crammed into those little boxes though; I'll be glad to elaborate in this Bloug entry, and hope to learn more from you so that the next version might be even better. …

May 1, 2005: IA in Chile   1 comment
IA may be struggling in Germany, but the Chileans are moving ahead. AI Chile (Arquitectura de Informacion) recently launched, according to one of its organizers, Javier Velasco. I was impressed by the people I met at my IA talk at the Universidad de Chile back in 2003, so I'm really excited by this development.…

Apr 18, 2005: Death of a Spam Filter   5 comments
First my cell phone, now this: my spam savior, KnowSpam, is going the way of all flesh. Don't know why; seemed to work quite well and at a reasonable price. Oops. Maybe too reasonable. Does anyone have a recommendation for a replacement hosted spam filtering service? Considering that I get about 15K spam/day, I'd rather use a hosted service rather than installing something on my laptop. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.…

Apr 13, 2005: IA in Germany   9 comments
Over the past few years I've been in contact with a few information architects from Germany. They're in a frustrating situation: while IA is gaining acceptance in many other countries, German companies just don't seem interested. Is this simply an issue of time lag, where we'll see a healthy demand for IA emerge in Germany a few years from now? Or are there deeper cultural or linguistic issues that will always make IA acceptance problematic in one of the world's largest, most complex economies? I'd love to hear your theories on what's up (or down) with IA in Germany. I'd also like to point you to a hopeful sign: with the IAI's support, German information architects are organizing a two-day symposium this May in Frankfurt with Eric Reiss as keynote speaker. The details and press release follow; please help spread the word and point German speakers to the symposium page. What: First…

Apr 12, 2005: Spring and Boston   0 comments
Quiet here at Bloug lately; just completed a busy two weeks that included moving the family back to Michigan, short trips to both coasts, and filing our tax return. Glad to be back home, where spring's a poppin', but thinking ahead to the next trip. It'll be Boston, May 12, where I'l teach another enterprise IA seminar. Steve Krug teaches his web usability seminar the next day. This Friday (the ides of April) is our early registration deadline, so if the taxman hasn't totally drained you, please consider registering for one or both of our seminars.…

Apr 2, 2005: Death of a Cell Phone   15 comments
My Motorola v60i's battery is just about dead. Now I'm at a cross-roads: do I buy a new battery, or leave the world of cell phones for something more exotic? I have no complaints with the Motorola; it just seems like continuing to use a monochrome screened phone is so late 20th century. Then again, I really don't need a new gadget that's also an MP3 player (got one), digital camera (got one), and PDA (got one). It would be nice to have them all in one, but the only one likely to perform any better than the separate devices I use now is the PDA. Hmmm. I guess it would be nice to have a PDA and phone integrated in one gadget. A color screen would be cool. Checking my email on this thing would be nice too, although my laptop is almost always with me, and WiFi is becoming ubiquitous. If you were me, what would…

Mar 31, 2005: San Diego UX Happy Hour   1 comment
If you're in San Diego the evening of April 7, come join Steve Krug, me, and your local colleagues for socializing and networking. We'll be at the Blue Lotus (741 W. Washington Street) from 6-8pm Thursday, 4/7. All UXers, IAs, usability engineers, designers, and fellow travellers are invited, but your RSVP is required: email seminars@louisrosenfeld.com and let us know how many are coming. Steve and I are in town to teach our web usability and enterprise information architecture seminars; there is still space available if you'd like to attend one or both. Hope to see you next week in San Diego.…

Mar 25, 2005: Visiting San Diego   0 comments
The Steve Krug/Lou Rosenfeld spring 2005 road show kicks off in San Diego, California on April 7 and 8, two weeks from now. If you don't already know Steve, he's the author of the much-lauded Don't Make Me Think!. Steve's workshop covers all you really need to know about web usability. I'll be teaching a seminar on how to develop and implement information architectures in large, politicized enterprise environments, a topic that's getting increasing attention. We'll also organize a happy hour the evening of April 7 open to anyone in the broad user experience community (or communities); details TBA. And we'll continue our tour in Boston (May 12-13) and Denver (June 2-3). Please spread the word, and, better yet, consider attending.…

Mar 21, 2005: Happy Times for IA?   26 comments
It's been a couple weeks now, but yet another IA Summit observation: just about everyone I spoke with who was even toying with changing jobs was entertaining multiple offers. And just about everyone I spoke to who was recruiting IAs--even from respected organizations like Yahoo!--was struggling to find talent. It's certainly good news for the field, but are we simply in for another boom and bust cycle? Surprise: I'm optimistic. The field seems healthier than it was four years ago for at least a couple reasons: The need to make an ROI case for IA seems to have diminished. No, it hasn't gone away, but the most evolved organizations seem to be in a hurry to hire IAs, not question information architecture's value. Perhaps this is an evolutionary trend akin to that experienced in other areas of initially unclear value, such as psychotherapy or even public education. There is a healthy balance--really a symbiosis--between IAs working…

Mar 16, 2005: Posting Comments on Bloug   1 comment
Many of you have had problems posting comments here on Bloug lately, receiving error messages, re-posting, then finding your comment displayed multiple times. My technical braintrust theorizes that my MT-blacklist of spam site URLs is now so large that processing comments against it causes server time-outs (which would explain why these comments eventually do show up). So if you post a comment and it doesn't show up right away, no need to re-post; it'll eventually show up. My blacklist is over 3,000 entries strong, and I don't have the regular expression skills to whittle it down to something more manageable, like, say, 100. If anyone has a "clean" blacklist, please send it my way and I'll send some good karma your way. Any other good advice on how to deal with spam comments would be appreciated; thanks!…

Mar 14, 2005: The Journal of IA Failures   6 comments
Something I'd like to see: reporting on IA failures, and what was learned from the carnage. Failure stories are a literary genre in and of themselves; even the most dispassionate, technical ones are hard to put down. That's what makes them such great learning tools. For example, it's enjoyable in a really sick way to read books like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, a chronicle the May 1996 Everest climbing disaster which claimed twelve lives. Another morbidly fun read: Deaths in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park. Chances are if you're a mountaineer, you've read Krakauer's book; if you stumbled on the latter at the Yellowstone gift shop, it'd be hard to put down Deaths in Yellowstone. And both books would surely teach you something. "Deaths..." catalogs its mishaps in two categories: 1) Death by Nature (e.g., geysers, bears, poisonous plants, avalanches); and 2) Death by Man (e.g.,…

Mar 11, 2005: PeterMe on Content Genres   13 comments
I'm not sure which librarians Peter Merholz managed to piss off--especially as I'm a librarian who Peter pisses off regularly--but I certainly enjoyed his IA Summit presentation on content genres (2.9Mb PDF). Peter pointed out the power of common genres (e.g., press releases, recipes) as useful design elements that come with precise user expectations. These expectations can be leveraged in the design process; for example, specific genres suggest certain types of contextual navigation. It's useful stuff that fits in well with my thinking on content models, which I guess I'd better write up soon. I left Peter's presentation with two thoughts: Linking content genres sequentially: In certain situations, it could be highly beneficial to link content genres sequentially. These situations might involve workflows that are both task-rich and genre-rich. Paying one's taxes might be an example--perhaps tax forms constitute some of the most hated content genres--or preparing a meal (shopping lists, product ingredients, recipes)…

Mar 10, 2005: UXnet Around the World   0 comments
Keith Instone has blogged four UXnet-related events taking place globally (Ann Arbor, Michigan; Austin, Texas; London UK; and New York, New York), all next week, March 14-16. The details are here.…

Mar 10, 2005: Alternative Interfaces to TV Programs   2 comments
Jim Leftwich has designed and built just about everything, from ultrasound machine interfaces to airplanes. His Summit talk was a personal travelogue through thirty years of mind-boggling changes in the world of design. Note to all concerned: an afternoon of brainstorming with Jim would make for an ideal 40th birthday present. Jim's talk made me wonder: has anyone designed an interface to a specific time segment of TV programming (e.g., "tonight" or "next week") that can help us visualize what's on and navigate to programs by means other than time slots and program titles? In other words, a visualization of what's on tonight by local-national-global coverage, political leanings, target audiences, genre, etc? I'm fairly TV-ignorant, so slap me down if Tivo or something else already provides this. But considering the breadth and scope of programming, not to mention the commercial opportunities, new overview interfaces to segments of TV programming seem like a…

Mar 8, 2005: Do we need Anti-Captology?   12 comments
At the IA Summit, BJ Fogg's opening keynote on persuasive design was, er, quite persuasive. For those of you not familiar with BJ's work in captology, here's the definition: Captology is the study of computers as persuasive technologies. This includes the design, research, and analysis of interactive computing products created for the purpose of changing people's attitudes or behaviors. Een zee wronk hands, captology could be dangerous stuff. I was glad that BJ tempered his enthusiasm with at least a little discomfort over captology's ethical implications. Made me think of Einstein's famous letter to Roosevelt explaining the Bomb's feasibility, not something that sat well with his pacifism. And it made me wonder if we need to develop a new field called anti-captology? There are analogies from other fields, ranging from LIS's advocacy for information literacy to journalism's media literacy. Does society need to inoculate itself against the (highly likely) potential of captological abuse?…

Mar 4, 2005: Event Notes   0 comments
(Sorry for the loads of blogging lately; nice to emerge from the February doldrums.) Bunch of event news to share: If you live in the greater LA/San Diego/Tijuana megalopolis, come to hear me on enterprise IA and/or Steve Krug on web usability. We'll be in San Diego April 7-8; early registration deadline is one week from today (March 11). If you're in southeast Michigan or northwest Ohio, you should attend the first Internet User Experience event, March 14-15. Sponsored by local chapters of CHI and UPA, as well as UXnet (yeah!). Kudos to Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus for organizing. Hanging out in the Low Countries? Interested in design for global use? IWIPS 2005 (aka 7th Annual International Workshop on Internationalisation of Products and Systems) looks interesting: July 7-9, Amsterdam. (If you want more on this topic, Peter van Dijck has been blogging some great stuff lately.) And greetings from the IA Summit, where my brain…

Mar 4, 2005: RIA and Log Analysis   12 comments
Interesting discussion at dinner last night with Jorge Arango and Livia Labate about RIA (rich internet applications) and the move away from the page model. One of them made an interesting point: if pages go away, we might lose our ability to measure user behavior by analyzing useful page-based data like search logs. Damn. So just as web analytics are maturing, this happens? Of course, the page model--and pages themselves--aren't going away soon. Amazon isn't going to suddenly abandon all those nice measurable pages that it lives and dies by, and redesign itself in Flash. But there are these interesting and, as Gene Smith calls them, disruptive trends that are shaking things up, including RIA, RSS and Atom, and now Ajax. So expect to see more and more content and functionality built outside the page model. I wonder if RIA designers could sign an oath to build in kinds of "trip…

Mar 3, 2005: IA Wisdom   1 comment
Greetings from the IA Summit 2005 in Montreal! Nugget from Lee Strickland's IAI pre-conference seminar talk (which is happening as I type) on Homeland Security and Information Architecture (paraphrasing here): We always have enough money to create another stovepipe. We never have the money to do the hard work of changing the organization. Great talk; I hope it will be put online.…

Mar 2, 2005: User Experience Education   6 comments
Tom Smith's diagram (95Kb GIF) is yet another illustration of the multidisciplinary nature of user experience. His network diagram shows connections between multiple fields, methods, and thinkers, clustered like so: Knowing the technology (e.g., content management) Knowing what you have to work with (e.g., content inventory) Knowing how the mind works (e.g., mental models) Knowing what people really want (e.g., story boards) Knowing what people really have done (e.g., log file analysis) Knowing what users actually do and think (e.g., ethnography) Knowing what users want to hear (e.g., marketing) Understanding users are not alone (e.g., social networks) Knowing how you are doing (e.g., metrics) Knowing how this all fits together (e.g., ROI) The obvious implication of Tom's and similar UX illustrations is that one person can't be expected to demonstrate expertise in all these areas; organizations need to invest in multi-disciplinary *teams* if they're serious about UX. The less obvious implication is really a question: why have so few academic institutions jumped on this opportunity? Seems to…

Mar 1, 2005: Stop the Pendulum: I Want to Get Off   7 comments
Although Gerry McGovern makes good points in his latest article and elsewhere, I'm really uncomfortable with this statement: The natural home of the intranet is in communications. I'm not sure that any single department can be the home for a multi-departmental intranet or, for that matter, a large public web site. Can Communications really be responsible for the accuracy of the highly technical documentation that Product Development is churning out? Can it manage the tuning of the intranet's search system without some help from IT staff? Can Communications (or any one business unit) conceive of--much less assemble and manage--the kind of multi-disciplinary team required to design and manage a truly quality information system? What about organizations which don't have centralized Communications departments? Maybe I'm not clear on what a "natural home" means. I do know that much of the Web's success can be explained by its decentralized nature--in effect, web sites exist because they don't require a single…

Feb 27, 2005: Intranet Teams   0 comments
James Robertson would like you to complete a brief (5 minute) survey to determine: Where in organizations are intranet teams located? How big are intranet teams? What skills do they have? The full results will be publicly shared; please take it by March 11.…

Feb 25, 2005: New and Old   0 comments
Not blogging much lately; too busy, and maybe a bit intellectually over-stimulated. Blame temporarily living in the same town with people like Victor Lombardi, Peter van Dijck, Tanya Rabourn, Liz Danzico, Michael Angeles, Karen McGrane, Dave Heller, and lots of other folks whom I hope I haven't offended by neglecting to mention. As much as I'm looking forward to biking Washtenaw County's back roads this spring, it'll be difficult to leave NYC. A couple of quick announcements: From the "Probably for the Best" Department: AIfIA is changing its name to The Information Architecture Institute. The initial 'a' came from Asilomar, the incredible meeting center outside Monterey where a dozen of us met to get AIfIA started. A great meeting, a great time, but an irrelevant place to those who weren't there. So we're going with a more generic, though descriptive name, as well as a great new identity (courtesy James Spahr) and domain name…

Feb 7, 2005: Damned Addiction   7 comments
I remain skeptical about the value of folksonomies as retrieval tools (studying it further, get back to you soon, promise). But I've got to admit: Flickr is pretty damned addictive. …

Jan 31, 2005: Spring Seminar Registration Now Open   6 comments
Steve Krug and I will be teaching our pairs of day-long seminars this spring in San Diego, Boston (well, Cambridge really), and Denver. As usual, Steve teaches "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop" and I teach "Enterprise Information Architecture: Because users don't care about your org chart": SanDiego,CA: April 7 (Lou); April 8 (Steve) early registration by March11 Boston,MA: May 12 (Lou); May 13 (Steve) early registration by April15 Denver,CO: June 2 (Lou); June 3 (Steve) early registration by May6 You can now register online, by mail, or by fax; take advantage of the discounts for early registration, for groups of three or more, and if you register for both Steve's and my seminars.…

Jan 26, 2005: Advanced IA Seminar at IA Summit   2 comments
At the upcoming IA Summit in Montreal, a bunch of us will be putting on a pre-conference seminar to benefit AIfIA. Great topics, and some really compelling speakers. Details below; come join us: The early registration deadline for the Information Architecture Institute's Leadership Seminar is January 28th. Sign up now to get a significant discount for this star-studded event. The Seminar "Advanced IA: Topics for 2005 and Beyond" will precede the 2005 Information Architecture Summit in Montreal, scheduled for March 3-4 (all day Thursday, half day Friday). This highly interactive forum will connect leaders and provide an invaluable way to learn from others across a variety of disciplines. The sessions and speakers include: Managing Up: The Business Strategy of Information Architecture (Christina Wodtke, Scott Hirsch) The Enterprise IA Roadmap (Louis Rosenfeld) Homeland Security and IA (Lee S. Strickland, JD) Practical Application of the Semantic Web (Paul Ford) The State of Global IA (Livia Labate, Peter Van Dijck, Jorge Arango) Hands-On Scenario Planning: Looking…

Jan 17, 2005: Spring 2005 Seminar Schedule and Venues   0 comments
Hard to believe, but Steve Krug and I will be soon be starting up our fifth road show. This spring we'll be in: San Diego, April 7-8 Boston, May 12-13 Denver, June 2-3 As usual, the first day of each pair I'll be teaching my "Enterprise Information Architecture" seminar; the second will be Steve's "Dont Make Me Think" Web usability workshop. Discounts will be available when registering for both seminars, as well as for groups of three or more. But registration isn't available yet; just wanted to get the dates out there. Stay tuned to Bloug for more info, or send an email to seminars@louisrosenfeld.com to be notified when registration and other details become available.…

Jan 16, 2005: NYC IA Meetup January 19   0 comments
Live/work in the New York metro area? Come down to the Vig Bar, 12 Spring Street (SE corner of Spring and Elizabeth) in NYC this Wednesday night at 7pm for the monthly NYC IA meetup. Kudos to Anders Ramsay for organizing; RSVP (and more details) here. Hope to see you there.…

Jan 12, 2005: IA Summit 2005   0 comments
The final IA Summit program is now available, and you can take advantage of the early registration discount through January 28. This year's edition (our sixth; can't believe it!) takes place in Montreal, Friday night, March 4 through Monday afternoon, March 7. Pre-conference workshops take place Thursday March 3 and Friday March 4. Keynoters are BJ Fogg and Andrew Dillon, and this year we'll have four concurrent session tracks. And yes, I've said it every year here on Bloug, and I am biased, but it's a truly great event, intellectually and socially, and doesn't take a huge bite out of your wallet or calendar. Hope to see you there.…

Jan 9, 2005: Applications to Aid in Content Inventories?   8 comments
I'm interested in learning about applications that can help us perform content inventories in large, distributed enterprise environments. Has anyone used software to help us answer the following questions: 1) What's out there? Are there sites, sub-sites, and other content areas (possibly non-HTML) that we just don't know about but should? Hidden but useful content can be a big problem for those performing content inventories in an enterprise environment. Logs obviously only have limited utility (if any) in answering this question. Maybe tools that crawl and collect page links (which might go to sites that are owned by the same organization but use a different domain) might help here. Perhaps also manually searching Whois for domains owned by one's organization might also provide a good starting point (the domains can then be fed to a crawler). 2) Of what's out there, what's homogenous? In other words, are there pockets of content where…

Jan 6, 2005: Folksonomies? How about Metadata Ecologies?   32 comments
Lately, you can't surf information architecture blogs for five minutes without stumbling on a discussion of folksonomies (there; it happened again!). As sites like Flickr and del.icio.us successfully utilize informal tags developed by communities of users, it's easy to say that the social networkers have figured out what the librarians haven't: a way to make metadata work in widely distributed and heretofore disconnected content collections. Easy, but wrong: folksonomies are clearly compelling, supporting a serendipitous form of browsing that can be quite useful. But they don't support searching and other types of browsing nearly as well as tags from controlled vocabularies applied by professionals. Folksonomies aren't likely to organically arrive at preferred terms for concepts, or even evolve synonymous clusters. They're highly unlikely to develop beyond flat lists and accrue the broader and narrower term relationships that we see in thesauri. I also wonder how well Flickr, del.icio.us, and other folksonomy-dependent sites will scale…

Dec 27, 2004: Extensive Report on Enterprise Search   0 comments
CMS Watch has published Stephen Arnold's "Enterprise Search Report". 450+ pages, jammed full of great stuff, including: ...a comprehensive overview of search solution providers and best practices. The bulk of the report entails 10- to 20-page comparative evaluations of 28 enterprise search offerings. The 450-page report also address several other essential issues for an enterprise investigating search solutions, including: Practical product selection roadmaps for large and small enterprises; Sample ROI analyses including a detailed examination of total costs of ownership and sample search project budgets; Answers to the 50 most commonly-asked enterprise search questions; Comprehensive review of major players' approaches, including Microsoft, Oracle, Google, Verity, Autonomy, Convera, FAST, and 21 others. The report also includes some useful on developing business cases for enterprise search. You can have a look at the table of contents and an excerpt--a review of Endeca. Get your boss to foot the US$1,350 bill.…

Dec 24, 2004: The iPodification of Iris   1 comment
Our pal Myra Klarman of Studio Mobius took this wonderful shot of a space-bound Iris (aka iPod) last summer. Recently, Myra took advantage of a cool service to truly iPodify the iPod. Ordinarily I'm not crazy about paying to advertise a product, but gotta say, we love the hip new version as much as the original. Happy holidays all! Update as of July, 2006: Myra Klarman has just launched her own photography studio in Ann Arbor!…

Dec 20, 2004: "You Aren't Your Title"   3 comments
Great posting on Elegant Hack, Christina Wodtke's blog: "The User Experience Community is Thinking Too Small". Christina reminds us to stop sniping about who owns UX and focus on working together and designing good stuff. Amen. I'm also tired of tiffs on titles and turf. Everyone should read Christina's posting and then make a New Year's resolution to pledge some spare cycles to …

Dec 17, 2004: Another Question   6 comments
Does anyone know of any examples of academic course catalogs that include collaborative functions such as "Students who took this class also took..."? Or that have used other means to break down the walls between departmental silos? I realize that there are sites where students can rate and review courses (a la Amazon), but I'm more interested in souped-up catalogs designed by universities and colleges.…

Dec 17, 2004: Good Question   2 comments
Ed Vielmetti recently started a great discussion--"tags versus taxonomies"--on the AIfIA-members discussion list. Too much to summarize here; you'll have to shell out a few shekels to join AIfIA and subscribe to the list. But in the course of the debate, Thomas Vander Wal asked a provocative question, the kind that can keep you up at night: Is hierarchy a means to classify and structure based on the tools available at the time (our minds)? Would we have structured things differently if we had computers from the beginning? Which begs the follow-up question: will future generations that grow up with computers prefer to structure information differently than we do now?…

Dec 16, 2004: Spring 2005 Seminar Locations   0 comments
No definite dates yet, but Steve Krug and I will be visiting San Diego, Boston, and Denver next spring. If you want to learn about web usability from Steve and enterprise information architecture from me, send a note and we'll let you know when we have the schedule finalized.…

Dec 14, 2004: From the Bloug Attic   0 comments
Clearing out the "to blog" folder: Another event that mentions both "enterprise" and "information" in its title and that I know absolutely nothing about: the International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems (ICEIS-2005). "ICEIS is currently one of the world largest conferences on Information Systems: its previous edition included more than 400 contributions from more than 60 countries. ICEIS-2005 will be held in Miami (USA) next year, on May 24-28." Anyone familiar with this event? Thanks to Vivian Bliss for the tip. Peter van Dijck has assembled a useful mess'o'IA resources. Peter also has been going nuts lately with posts related to global IA design. Maybe that book might really happen. He started a great thread on translating taxonomies. Donna Maurer has finalized her survey of online card sorting tools. Dirk Knemeyer riffs on the End of Usability Culture in Digital Web Magazine. …

Dec 11, 2004: Enterprise Topic Maps   7 comments
Last week at Online Information, George Kondrach of Innodata Isogen gave an excellent presentation on the application of topic maps in the enterprise environment. George described a host of high value uses for topic maps, including (with some slight paraphrasing): Managing information classification schemes Managing disparate vocabularies for specialized purposes Managing documents, contents, other knowledge forms Publishing to specialized or localized audiences with specific vocabularies Publishing specialized information product types (e.g., dictionaries, encyclopedias, product catalogs) Managing library and digital assets Enhanced classification, reference, and indexing capabilities (e.g. merging) Enhanced information retrieval Portable metadata maps to enhance pre-existing information assets (e.g., archives) All of these sound quite exciting and promising. I'm interested in seeing topic maps used as a syntax to support controlled vocabulary management of just about any variety; the syntax is apparently flexible enough to support even the types of complex semantic relationships we encounter in thesauri. I'm interested in seeing topic maps applied to enable contextual navigation between an enterprise's silos, especially if…

Dec 8, 2004: NYC Bound   4 comments
OK, it's not quite as far off as Sydney, but in some ways Greenwich Village is an even more foreign destination. MJ, Iris and I are packing our bags and moving to NYC just after New Years and returning to Ann Arbor just before April Fools Day. Not exactly a tropical place to spend the winter, but it's got to be warmer than Michigan. I'm hoping to find a quiet place there to write, as I need to make some headway on my enterprise IA book this winter. Heard there are a few cafes in Greenwich Village, but I'm not sure they'll tolerate a midwesterner camped out with his rickety iBook for hours and hours. Seriously, any suggestions from you natives out there regarding reasonable semi-public work venues would be appreciated. I'm looking forward to hanging out with the NYC IAerati. Anders Ramsay has gotten a NYC IA meetup up and running; maybe…

Dec 7, 2004: Funding Enterprise Design Functions   4 comments
Much of my consulting this past year has focused on ramping up teams--or standalone business units--to tackle enterprise design tasks. As I'm an information architect, these functions typically include enterprise IA tasks, such as improving a main page or instituting best bet search results. But often the scope of these teams bleeds into other areas of user experience, such as branding, usability, accessibility, and content management; enterprise issues are by no means unique to information architecture. These enterprise design tasks are typically owned--if addressed at all--by a disjointed collection of business units concerned mostly with their own requirements and politics. The needs of the users of enterprise information and the managers concerned for those users often get left out. That's why I encourage placing enterprise design functions in the hands of a central, stand-alone team or business unit. Such a group has a broad perspective that counterbalances the localized goals of autonomous business units. But…

Dec 6, 2004: Usability and Content Management Systems   5 comments
Peanut butter and chocolate? Or ammonia and bleach? My pal Tony Byrne of CMS Watch fame is interested in exploring the usability of CMS, and we were both wondering if much had been written about this topic. We've all heard plenty of kvetching from content authors about poor CMS usability, but who out there is actually doing something about it? Or who knows what should be done?…

Dec 6, 2004: Nice   7 comments
Whew. Nice to be done with the 2004 series of Enterprise IA seminars; nine times (seven public and two in-house) in a year is plenty enough. Nice when attendees write nice stuff about it. Nice to have the 2005 spring seminar schedule almost set; stay posted for details. Speaking of the seminars, I've used this silly banner on my site to announce it the past two years: It's silly in that I'd never make a face like that except in jest, and silly in how many people who saw it took it seriously. Really, I'm not that mean. The lower-right hand corner of the diagram tips off the joke; perhaps Freedonia would be a nice place to hold a seminar next year. I'd like to replace the banner with something new for next year, but honestly, I have no idea what kind of visual would communicate enterprise IA. Any ideas? Maybe use my enterprise IA roadmap…

Dec 3, 2004: AIfIA Initiates IA Progress Grants   0 comments
More goodness from AIfIA, as per Victor Lombardi, AIfIA's new president: A few months ago the AIfIA directors and advisors explored the idea of creating a grant to encourage the progress of IA work. The recent research/innovation discussion supported our feeling that a grant could be effective. We are pleased to announce the formation of two Information Architecture Progress Grants. The goal of the grants is to encourage and publicize useful work that furthers our knowledge of information architecture. Philosophically we want to encourage the best ideas to blossom, and so the grants are available for a wide variety of work -- not just original research -- with the only restriction being the potential for practical benefit to the field of information architecture. With regard to administering this initiative, our approach is to keep the program simple and later judge how effective it is at encouraging progress in our field, making changes as appropriate. I hope in the end…

Dec 2, 2004: Using Search Log Analysis to Predict the Future   4 comments
Had a nice chat with Guy Valerio at my seminar in London the other day. Guy has been doing some innovative analysis of search logs at the Financial Times. Guy compiles statistics on the occurrences of company and organization names in FT's logs weekly. He then compares these names to a similar list of name occurrences generated from the FT's most recent articles. If a company name shows up with great frequency in the search logs but hasn't been covered recently in FT articles, it may indicate a developing story about to hit daylight. Guy finds that this sort of anomaly is often a useful predictor of what the FT should consider covering in the coming days. Conversely, if a company name drops off the search logs, interest in a related story line may be waning, and FT can choose to invest its reporting resources elsewhere. Using search log analysis to divine emerging stories: …

Nov 30, 2004: UXnet Going Strong, Going On in London   1 comment
Great things coming out of UXnet; it's really starting to happen. Check out the latest update. I'm in London this week, and am lucky that the first London UXnet confab will be happening while I'm in town (Thursday, 7pm). I'm really looking forward to hearing a talk there by OK/Cancel's Kevin Cheng. Thanks to Joshua Kaufman et al. for organizing; hope to see some of you there.…

Nov 22, 2004: Short Primer on Facets   5 comments
The recent issue of KM World ran a nice short primer on faceted classification from Endeca's Steve Papa. And not too heavy on the Endeca sales pitch. I especially appreciate the reminder of Joseph Busch's "golden law of facets": "Four facets of 10 nodes each have the same discriminatory power as one taxonomy of 10,000 nodes." If you're looking for some good examples of navigation systems based on faceted classification, here are some old standbys: browse Epicurious' recipes Wine.com's wine shop …

Nov 14, 2004: Silence   2 comments
Help. Apple Computer is holding my iBook in a state of suspended animation. That's my new favorite term for what Apple calls "repair". Last year, it took three months (and, ultimately, a demand for a new iBook) to "repair" a broken backlight. Now I'm enduring Apple's second attempt in two weeks to repair a logic board (this a recall, fer cryin out loud). Hope they get it right this time. And I sure hope I don't have to go three months without a computer yet again; kind of makes it hard to earn a living. Anyway, expect little email from me for the foreseeable future, and even less bloggage. Why is it always the ones we love who hurt us the most?…

Nov 4, 2004: Looking for a Volunteer   5 comments
Steve Krug and I are looking for a volunteer to help us out with our seminars this coming Monday and Tuesday in San Jose. Really simple stuff: get there early (7:30am) to register attendees, hand out badges'n'stuff, maybe make sure the coffee is hot for the breaks, and gather evaluations at the end of the day. In return you get to attend both Steve's web usability workshop and my enterprise IA seminar, including all the handouts and other goodies. Pretty please? Let me know.…

Oct 29, 2004: UX Happy Hour in San Jose, November 8   0 comments
Verity is kindly sponsoring the get-together the evening of my San Jose seminar (and the night before Steve Krug's workshop). All information architects, usability pros, and other assorted user experience folk are invited. Come by and say hello; space is limited, so be sure to RSVP. Happy hour details: Monday, November 8, 5:30-7:30 pm San Jose Improv 62 S. Second Street San Jose, CA 95113 Hors d'oeuvres and cocktails will be provided; RSVP by emailing: jprodger@verity.com…

Oct 24, 2004: Do You Know Sydney?   9 comments
If so, a question: if you were going to spend three summer months in Sydney (January through March), what part of the city would you choose? And which web sites would be useful to help find housing remotely? MJ, Iris and I are fairly certain we'll be skipping out on the harsh Michigan winter, and based on a short visit a couple years ago, we think Sydney would be a wonderful place to warm up. But we don't know the city's neighborhoods, and would appreciate any advice on where to live and how to find short-term furnished housing. We're a non-smoking couple with a one-year old. We don't plan on renting a car, preferring walking and mass transit. We often work in cafes. Parks close by would be a definite plus, as would places to shop for food. Oh, and we'll need a crib as well as other furnishings. Where should we be…

Oct 22, 2004: Enterprise Search Summit   1 comment
The CFP for the Enterprise Search Summit is out, and proposals are due November 1. The Summit is "...an intensive two-day learning experience that covers ... the building blocks of search, including metadata, taxonomies, and classification; the complexities of searching both structured and unstructured content; integration and search of internal and external information; how to determine which software features are essential; and how to differentiate among the wide range of products on the market." I've heard so many good comments about this conference; still kicking myself for not going last spring. This next edition takes place May 17-18, 2005, in New York City; will be there for sure.…

Oct 19, 2004: Chicago UX Happy Hour, October 28   0 comments
Thanks to VSA Partners, our generous sponsor, we'll be happy houring during the Chicago stop on Steve Krug's and my seminar series. (Sorry for the repetition, but a guy's got to make a living: Steve's Don't Make Me Think workshop, and my Enterprise Information Architecture seminar.) Happy hour details: Thursday, October 28, 5:15-7:15 pm The Park Grill, 11 N. Michigan Hors d'oeuvres and Cocktails Served Space is limited; to RSVP, email event@vsapartners.com…

Oct 16, 2004: IA Trends Survey Results and Analysis   8 comments
287 responses to this survey; impressive. I've run about a dozen IA community surveys over the years, but haven't been this close to 300 before. Thanks to all who participated! We asked: "For each year below select the venue you worked in most and select the percentage of your work dedicated to IA." We asked this for years 1995-2004, then asked people to project where they'd be in 2005, 2010, and 2015. Here's how the data charted: IA venues (51Kb JPG) and Percentage of work dedicated to IA (79Kb JPG). OK, now for some back-of-then envelope analysis: Past trends IA quickly became a full-time job in 2000. Not surprisingly, 2000 represented the pinnacle of the agency or consulting firm as the place to get IA expertise. The ranks thin out in 2001-2002, then begins a slow rebirth as the economy warms up again. The number of in-house IAs held steady as the bubble burst, then jumped forward in 2002. …

Oct 12, 2004: Global IA Widget   10 comments
In the spirit of LazyWeb, here's something that'd be really useful for global information architectures, assuming it's even feasible to design. It'd be wonderful for some interface design genius to create a navigational widget that can: Orient users to where they are in a site Help users navigate to an appropriate locale by first helping them to select a language option, then a country option; and do this without using pull-down menus (which present plenty of well-documented usability challenges) Be sufficiently small and unimposing to be consistently embedded in pages by many different site managers within a large, global web environment; and yet be obvious enough to be sought by users who want to want to move from global to local content, or change locales This widget would be useful to place in transitional parts of a site, such as when users want to switch locales, move from one language's version of a page of content to another, or from internationalized content to…

Oct 11, 2004: Card Sorting Tools   4 comments
More great stuff from Donna Maurer, this a brief summary of card sorting applications. You know what would be wonderful? Reviews of relevant classes of software tools from the IA perspective. Search engines, CMS, portals... AIfIA IA tools people, are you listening? :-)…

Oct 7, 2004: San Jose Registration Deadline   0 comments
Bay Area folks: the early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my day-long seminars is a week from today. I'll teach enterprise IA on Monday, November 8; Steve covers web usability Tuesday, November 9. Register no later than this Friday, October 15, for the early bird discount. Discounts are also available if you register for both seminars, and if three or more people register concurrently (whether or not from the same organization). San Jose not your cup of tea? Steve and I will also be in Chicago (October 28-29), and I'll be in London November 29. Hope to see you somewhere!…

Oct 6, 2004: Intranet Trends   0 comments
Shiv Singh of Avenue A/Razorfish wrote an interesting piece on intranets for Line56. He identifies eight trends based on his experience with enterprise intranets: Intranets return to the domain of the departments The records management and the legal departments get involved All employees become intranet publishers The corporate telephone directory loses its luster The new killer app -- the knowledge management tool Real time information delivery becomes a priority Information retrieval remains unsolved but there's hope Employees demand a more aesthetic user experience Read Shiv's article for more details on each trend. It's a short, well-written, and certainly thought-provoking. I might take issue with the first trend, which seems to suggest that the pendulum is starting to swing back from centralized to localized intranet management. Yes, that swing is happening in some situations, but the reverse seems true in others. It all depends on each particular organization's timing. Interestingly, I see more organizations understanding that in order to succeed, they actually have to…

Oct 5, 2004: Ignoring Information Needs   3 comments
A colleague is working with a user group of seniors, and had found some interesting research on how they interact with an information architecture. She wanted my take on it; here's her summary: Michael Lin conducted a study (263 Kb PDF) with older adults that was published in 2003 in Computers in Human Behavior. To test his hypothesis that older users would be better oriented in the hierarchical information architecture than in the network information architecture, Lin measured the number of "nodes opened" (pages visited) the number of nodes opened repeatedly the number of "additional links searched" time spent in finding the answers to the task scenarios. Participants using the hierarchical information architecture opened more nodes and spent significantly more time. However, the number of nodes repeatedly opened was much lower than for users of the network information architecture. The author suggests that the result related to repeatedly opening nodes is more important. He concludes that opening more nodes repeatedly in the…

Oct 4, 2004: CM Professionals Summit Announcement   0 comments
If you've enjoyed the IA Summit and are interested in content management, you might check out the CM Pros Summit, taking place November 30 in Boston (in conjunction with the Gilbane CM conference). The sponsor is CM Pros, the new group that went public last month. The press release follows: CM Professionals to Hold 2004 "Summit" Silver Spring MD, September 28, 2004 -- CM Professionals, a group of content management professionals from around the world, will hold its first CM Summit in conjunction with the Gilbane Conference on Content Management Technologies, Tuesday, November 30, 2004 in Boston, Mass. (U.S.). The CM Summit is a peer-to-peer meeting. Sessions will take the form of participatory discussions no talking heads reading slide shows facilitated by some of the worlds top content management experts: Bob Boiko, Ann Rockley, Tony Byrne, Frank Gilbane, Erik Hartman, Mary Lee Kennedy, Brendan Quinn, Hilary Marsh, Bob Doyle, Scott Abel, and many others. Sessions at the summit will be…

Oct 1, 2004: Local UX Activities   1 comment
Sorry for the late notice, but in about an hour, the NYC conflagration of folks from AIfIA, AIGA, IxDG, NYC CHI, STC and UPA will hold their first of a series of "First Fridays" meetings. Tonight they'll be at Hell, 59 Gansevoort Street at Washington Street (in the Meatpacking District). For future reference, David Heller maintains a list of UX events in the NYC area, or just go to Hell and talk to Heller tonight. More local UX coolness: in the Bay Area, Rashmi Sinha and Richard Anderson (of UXnet) have put together a highly germane UX discussion: "User Experience: Why Do So Many Organizations Believe They Own It?". Takes place 7:45pm, October 12; networking starts at 6pm. The impressive collection of panelists represents AIfIA, AIGA-ED, BACHFES, BayCHI, SF IDSA, IxDG, ACM SIGGRAPH, STC, and UPA; Stanford's d.School is the sponsor. So many acronyms, and so many good local activities on the UX…

Sep 29, 2004: Bloug Goes Political   2 comments
I haven't posted anything political here on Bloug before, but the US elections are only five weeks away, and I've been really consumed by how I might feel early in the morning of November 3. The hundreds of millions of dollars that have been flushed down each campaign make many of us feel powerless to have an impact beyond our own votes. Perhaps one thing we can do is encourage others to register and to vote. Regardless of political persuasion, we can all feel better about the outcome if voting levels rise significantly higher than the roughly 50% turnout typical of most US presidential elections. You might consider writing up the reasons you think it's worth voting this year and sending them to family and friends who usually don't bother. I'm not sure about sites supporting other candidates, but Kerry fans can also contact unregistered or under-voting folks in swing states via the MMOB site. I've…

Sep 28, 2004: IA Summit 2005 CFP and Details   2 comments
Wow, we've just about made it to our sixth IA Summit! What a ride it's been; great from the start, and better and better every year. The program is always practical, vendor-independent, and fascinating, and yet the Summit remains an intimate, friendly event that is especially welcoming of first-timers. This time we'll be in Montreal, March 4-7. The Summit takes place mostly over a weekend, along with a few pre-conference seminars, and is quite reasonably priced, so start working on convincing your boss to send you today. The Call for Papers deadline is October 25; posters deadline is December 5. Visit the site for additional details.…

Sep 27, 2004: IA Trends Survey--Last Chance   0 comments
The numbers are looking great. (At least I think so; relative to what I'm not sure.) 247 of you have completed my survey on IA Trends. Grazie, grazie! Spacebo! Warm wet kisses! Really, thanks; I do appreciate it. I'm itching to figure out what the data means, so I'll close the survey down Wednesday at the end of the day, as defined by the narrow window of time between getting Iris to bed and midnight ET. This'll give me something to do the next night while suffering through the first of the three US presidential debates. Pray for me. Actually, pray for us all. Please take the survey if you haven't already; last chance to be counted: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=21876639969 Thanks again!…

Sep 23, 2004: Complete a Brief Survey on IA Trends?   0 comments
I've just set up a really short survey (really, it is short!) to detect past and future trends regarding where information architects work, and how much of their work is dedicated to IA. You don't have to have the title "information architect" to complete the survey; IA just needs to have been some aspect of your job at some point over the past ten years. I'd be indebted if you'd blog, forward, or otherwise share the survey; the more responses the better. I'll probably leave this survey open for a week; results will be shared right here on Bloug in a week or two. Many thanks!…

Sep 20, 2004: CM Professionals Launches   1 comment
As of about a half hour ago, CM Professionals, a new professional community of practice, is now public. Looks like we might finally have ourselves a content management party! The CM Professionals organization has a web site; the announcement press release follows: New Content Management Professionals Organization Announced Today CM Professionals: A Content Management Community of Practice Media Contact: Bob Doyle, executive director +1.617.876.5678 media@cmprofessionals.org www.cmprofessionals.org Silver Spring MD, September 20, 2004: A group of thirty content management experts from around the world has announced the formation of CM Professionals, an international community of content management professionals whose purpose is to further best practices based on shared experiences of experts and peers. CM Pros offers a members-only mailing list, a collaborative website, discussion forums, issue-oriented group blogs, knowledge wikis, syndicated web services, a job board, a professional directory and a calendar of face-to-face meeting opportunities. CM Pros president Bob Boiko, author of the Content Management Bible and director of the University of Washington iSchool CMS Evaluation…

Sep 17, 2004: Early registration deadline for Chicago is 9/24   0 comments
Quick reminder for you Chicagoland folks: early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my seminars is a week away. As usual, I'll cover enterprise IA (October 28) and Steve will teach his web usability workshop (October 29). Register no later than Friday, September 24 for the early bird discount. Discounts are also available if you register for both seminars, and if three or more people register concurrently (whether or not from the same organization). Hope to see you in Chicago (or San Jose or London)!…

Sep 17, 2004: Step Two's Intranet Roadmap   0 comments
You may already know that I'm a big fan of roadmaps. We're all paralyzed by overwhelmingly large, nasty information problems that are uglier than sin. Roadmaps break these big problems into manageable pieces placed in a logical sequence. The world really could use more roadmaps. So I'm very glad to see that Step Two has developed an intranet roadmap, providing "the first truly comprehensive methodology that describes all the activities required to develop (or redevelop) an intranet." Their roadmap also has five tracks, though a little different than mine: Strategy Design Content Change & communications Technology It's great stuff; tip o'the hat to my friends Down Under.…

Sep 15, 2004: Information Architecture Guidelines   4 comments
A colleague writes: I'm helping write an IA guide where we are documenting the organization, navigation and labeling methods used by the site, the rationale behind them, and helpful hints for how to add content to the site going forward within this framework... We are really struggling with how to write and format this guide to make it usable by the site's content contributors. Lou, do you know of any examples of similar guides that we might reference? Really good question, and no, I don't have an immediate answer. Oddly I've never really come across what I'd call a true, comprehensive IA guide; just fragments thereof scattered here and there. And, in a way, this sounds like a question for the technical communicators out there, with its focus on writing and format. As with any help content, much of the challenge revolves not so much around which guidelines to create, but where and when to make…

Sep 10, 2004: Semantic Technology Conference   2 comments
This looks interesting: the first annual Semantic Technology Conference. Don't know much about who's behind it. Would try to be there for sure if they dropped the "Technology" from the title. But I guess if you're trying to draw VCs, a tech focus is de rigeur. Proposal submissions are due October 4. Anyone going?…

Sep 2, 2004: IA Heuristics for Search Systems   14 comments
Another day, another project, another set of IA heuristics. A client asked me to kick the tires of their search system, so I decided to expand on the search aspects of the information architecture heuristics that we came up with a couple weeks back. This time, I tried to align and categorize these guidelines with some common steps users take when searching a site. This semi-sequence goes like this: Locating search: Where is it? Scoping search: What will be searched? Query entry: How can I search it? Retrieval results: What did I find? Query refinement: How can I search some more? Interaction with other IA components: Can I switch to browsing when search isn't doing the trick? Finishing search: What can I do now that I've done searching? It might go without saying that these search heuristics are really geared to semi-structured text, not data; looking for ideas and concepts is a different undertaking than hunting for facts and figures…

Aug 26, 2004: And Now, a Word from our Sponsor...   0 comments
When the Steve Krug/Lou Rosenfeld Roadshow reaches New York City just after Labor Day, our happy hour will be sponsored by Avenue A/Razorfish. Read on for details, and don't forget to RSVP if you plan on coming. (And hey, there are still seats open for both Steve's usability workshop and my EIA seminar, so consider registering.) Join us: Louis Rosenfeld, Steve Krug, and Avenue A/Razorfish invite you to join fellow information architects and user experience experts for two hours of mingling at Glass, a downtown NY bar located near FIT. Enjoy a chance to unwind with cocktails and snacks while networking with peers, co-workers, and friends in your field. Get outdoors and catch the sun on Glasss outdoor patio. Relax and simply enjoy a break. Location/Time: Glass (287 10th Ave., between 26th and 27th St., NYC), Tuesday, September 7th, 5:30pm 7:30pm, open bar. Space is limited: To RSVP, or for more information and questions regarding this event, please…

Aug 20, 2004: IA and Information Management   6 comments
Jochen Fassbender writes: Last week there was a meeting of three AIfIA members in Hamburg: Britta Glatten, Jim Kalbach, and me. We talked about strategic approaches of how to spread IA in Germany. When dealing with the ever-challenging question of what IA is (when asked by non-IAs), we couldn't come up with a satisfying answer of what the difference is between IA and information management. The latter term is more common in Germany as opposed to the unknown IA. Do you think it is overlapping in many respects? I think IM is quite a vague term but difficult to pinpoint. In Polar Bear 2 you list CM and KM as related fields. But how do we explain the difference between IA and IM? Great question; it's one that I haven't heard before, which is surprising, as IM has been around for quite a while, and at least us library science types were exposed to IM concepts…

Aug 19, 2004: Semantic Webs and Topic Maps   6 comments
Stimulating discussion yesterday with Jerry Michalski and Ed Vielmetti, ranging from SGML to The Brain to local structure to the merging of semantic metadata to topic maps. Whew. It's still sinking in, and probably will be for the next two or three weeks. A question arose that I'm wondering if any Bloug readers can answer: how close are the topic map and semantic web worlds? How much overlap is there in people and practices, if any? Wondering if these people go to the same conferences, participate in the same discussion lists, and so on.…

Aug 17, 2004: Information Architecture Heuristics   16 comments
Just finished a brief heuristic evaluation of a client site, basing part of my feedback on a set of questions that I find quite useful for just about every IA-related project. Every information architect should always have a set of favorite questions in their back pocket; they really do come in handy. I categorize mine into groups that correspond to the five areas that a user is most likely to interact with a sites information architecture: Main page Search interface Search results Site-wide navigation Contextual navigation This approach works for me because it underemphasizes the main page, which all too often garners way too much attention at the expense of the other areas. There are plenty of other ways to group IA heuristics: top-down versus bottom-up; search versus browse; content versus users versus context; by users' information needs (e.g., known-item versus research versus open-ended); and so on. Pick what works best for you. Ok, on to the questions (and some brief comments): Main Page Does it…

Aug 16, 2004: Getting Hired   1 comment
Over on urlgreyhot, Michael Angeles blogs "How to apply for IA jobs". Extremely useful posting for those in a position to hire, as well as those looking for work. Also reminds me of another benefit to the good old three-circle IA Venn diagram: whether you're trying to get an IA education, hiring an IA, or building an IA team, my advice is to strive for balance among these three circles. (Jess McMullin and I created a more complex but also more explanatory version of this diagram here.) Balance in disciplinary background, whether academic or self-taught, means complementing your "major" in one of the three circles (e.g., users, as in an HCI degree) with minors in the other two (e.g., content--say journalism--and context--such as organizational psychology). Same balanced approach makes sense in choosing which methods to be proficient in as well. I've blogged this before, so I'll just point you there.…

Aug 15, 2004: Drowning   8 comments
Thanks to Knowspam's running tally, this weekend I learned that I've achieved the dubious honor of having one million spam blocked. This happened over about a seven or eight month period. Maybe 125K spam per month ain't so bad, but the rate is accelerating to the point that I'm approaching 100K spam per week. For crying out loud. If I understand it properly, this makes me personally accountable for roughly 1/53nd of all the spam that Knowspam has ever blocked. And I'm sure they have more than 53 customers. Their service is fine, but it's become slow enough that it can take ten or fifteen minutes during the first mail check of each day to filter out the previous night's crap. And if I go a whole weekend without checking, by Monday morning I'm completely screwed. I'm leaning toward killing "lou@louisrosenfeld.com" and adopting a scheme like Tog's approach (see bottom of page). And yes, I know, I…

Aug 9, 2004: Mess O'Stuff   5 comments
Catching up with a backlog of assorted tidbits... The Interaction Design Group launched its web site. What's the IxDG? "The Interaction Design Group (IxDG) is a new association that serves the needs of the international community of practitioners, teachers, and students of interaction design." (Disclaimer: I'm a member of IxDG's advisory board.) It's great to see yet another UX-related professional community organizing itself, in addition to us information architects and, rumor has it, the content managers. This all on top of the established UX-related professional associations. Just more ammo for UXnet. EContent is offering a free white paper titled "Strategies for Search, Taxonomy & Classification" (you have to register to download it). Looks promising, though many, if not most, of the contributors work for tool vendors. Want to redesign Boxes & Arrows? This fine magazine, which you should read if you don't already, is running a redesign contest (disclaimer: I'm on the panel…

Aug 6, 2004: Blogs + Egos = Learning?   9 comments
Had an interesting breakfast discussion yesterday with Bud Gibson, a professor at the University of Michigan business school. Bud is developing a collection of student blogs (or "blogosphere") as the infrastructure and publishing medium for an upcoming course. Bud hopes this blogosphere will help his students learn about new technologies (blogs, syndication, and aggregation) and provide them with an opportunity to create content in a new and unfamiliar medium. Which is all well and good. But our discussion kept veering toward the idea of studying the blogosphere itself: it's a stand-alone information system with all kinds of cool functionality. And Bud and class get to build and observe it from scratch, starting with the very first entry, and watch it grow over the course of a semester. We rambled on about how much fun it would be to observe patterns in the use of comments, classification, cross-linking between entries, aggregation, and so on. We…

Aug 5, 2004: NYC Seminar Early Regi Deadline is Tomorrow   0 comments
Hi; just a reminder that tomorrow (August 6) is the deadline for the early registration discount on Steve Krug's and my New York seminars. As usual, Steve will teach Don't Make Me Think, his web usability seminar; I'll cover Enterprise Information Architecture. Register early, register often...…

Jul 29, 2004: Yet More Thoughts on Global Information Architecture   5 comments
Trying to capture some more thoughts about global IA design in one place before I plunge back into enterprise IA (fall seminars coming up, book finally underway). Most come from a recent discussion with Chris Tubb, who was kind enough to walk me through a number of global IA issues that he's encountered while working on the information architecture of Orange's intranet. One surprise for me is how much comfort levels with information sharing vary among cultures, some of which value secrecy far more than others. For 2000 example, let's say your company has business units in South Africa and South Korea of comparable dimensions. But while the South Koreans want to provide as much relevant content as they can, perhaps the South Africans are much more protective of their information. You could certainly design an architecture that accommodates both comfort levels, but not without significant customization. So say goodbye to simple templates, or perhaps to the…

Jul 28, 2004: What If?   5 comments
What if... ... you could find out about all the local events and meetings relevant to your work that will take place in your area over the coming weeks? ... your AIfIA membership got you a discount on a subscription to ACM's interactions magazine? Or your STC membership got you a discount to attend an AIGA event? ... there was an easier way to meet and network with colleagues in your community who cared about developing great user experiences? ... the annual UPA and AIGA-ED conferences took place in the same location in succession, instead of (frustratingly) in different cities at the exact same time? ... UX (User Experience) emerged as the thread that ties us together--whether we're software developers, interaction designers, content strategists, usability engineers, graphic designers, editors, information architects, or whomever--and allows us to better understand and work with each other? That's just part of my wish list of big and small things that would be served by better coordination of…

Jul 21, 2004: AIfIA Launches IA Mentoring Program   2 comments
More good stuff from AIfIA; a new mentoring program, which "aims to improve the skills of current and future information architects by providing them with the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced IA. Mentees must be AIfIA members, but mentors do not." Kudos to organizers Jeff Lash and Donna Maurer.…

Jul 19, 2004: AIfIA Second Annual Report   3 comments
Courtesy of Gene Smith, here are the highlights from AIfIA's second annual report: Membership has grown 37% in the past year, to over 560 people from over 40 countries. The IA Job Board has connected employers and job seekers through over 300 job postings. Our sponsorship program, which strives to promote and grow the IA community on a regional basis, sponsored events in Chile, Denmark, and England. Our new membership pricing system introduced a fee structure that offers members from developing countries substantially lower rates. The IA Library, launched in April, now has over 200 references to IA resources in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese. The Translations Initiative produced 29 newly translated documents in Danish, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Japanese, Portugese, and Spanish. At the end of the most recent fiscal year (June 30, 2004), AIfIA was firmly in the black, with more than US$32,000 in assets and no debt. Not too terribly bad for an all-volunteer organization less than two years old! Hope you'll join…

Jul 13, 2004: Shared Taxonomies   5 comments
Verity's Walter Underwood pointed me to Verity's Collaborative Classifier (the classifier formerly known as Quiver). Walter says "VCC allows separate topic experts to manage parts of the hierarchy. They can look at newly-classified docs and set thresholds for where they want to individually approve them." Different SMEs editing the same taxonomy within pre-defined workflow and role constraints sounds pretty neat. Could even shoot some holes in my taxonomy-skeptical enterprise IA roadmap (46Kb PDF). Although I should add that VCC's approach seems to make sense in contexts with specialized domains that don't overlap much, and with few relevant facets to muddy things up further. Then again, the same could be said for any large taxonomy... Any opinions on or experiences with shared taxonomies out there? Any of you ever tried Quiver/VCC? For your further edification, here's a use case straight from Verity's promotional literature: Use Case: Chemical Engineers Collaborating with Knowledge Engineers Peppy Plastics is the leading…

Jul 9, 2004: New CMS Report Discusses Usability and Metadata   2 comments
Speaking of CMS, version 6 of Tony Byrne's CMS Report is now available. I'm thrilled that usability and metadata are two of the seven or so trends the report covers. On CMS Usability: "Vendors often report little interest in usability among prospects and buyers beyond the basic authoring interface. We don't believe that. The problem remains that end-users are too often shut out of buying decisions." A great point. Of course, it begs the question: whose responsibility is it to involve end users in CMS development--vendors or customers? Valid arguments can be made for both, so it's probably not an either/or question. On CMSs and Metadata: "Most CMS vendors still provide only very basic abilities to apply metadata. They tend to argue that buyers talk more about metadata than actually implement it. That may be true, but perhaps it's because the CMS doesn't provide enough capabilities to offer a…

Jul 8, 2004: IA Criteria for CMS Selection   3 comments
An interesting thread just got going on the AIfIA-members discussion list. What information architecture, usability, and other user-centered criteria should we keep in mind when selecting a content management system (CMS)? Step Two's James Robertson suggests a few: "Some content management systems can only support site structures that are up to three levels deep. This may be desirable, depending on the the design, or a major limitation. "Not all content management systems provide a built-in mechanism for creating and managing 'related links' which may be a key element of the site design. "Accessibility for disabled users may be a major issue (often the case for public-sector organisations), and some CMS products are incapable of meeting these requirements." These are an excellent start. I've seen the arbitrary limit of three levels wreak havoc on some major projects. The related links issue is also critical, because content models/ontologies are an incredibly underexploited aspect of bottom-up IA. Not surprisingly, both criteria…

Jul 6, 2004: The Inevitable Announcement   1 comment
Did you think I meant Kerry's announcement? Heh. Anyway, might as well make it official: Steve Krug's and my fall 2004 seminar dates and locations are: New York, NY September 7, 2004: Enterprise Information Architecture Seminar (with Lou) September 8, 2004: Don't Make Me Think: the Workshop (with Steve) Early registration deadline: August 6, 2004 Chicago, IL October 28, 2004: Enterprise Information Architecture Seminar October 29, 2004: Don't Make Me Think: the Workshop Early registration deadline: September 24, 2004 San Jose, CA November 8, 2004: Enterprise Information Architecture Seminar November 9, 2004: Don't Make Me Think: the Workshop Early registration deadline: October 15, 2004 As always, there are discounts for early registration, discounts if you register for both of our seminars, and volume discounts for groups of three or more. In fact, this time around we'll discount for any group of…

Jul 2, 2004: Why Should We Be Trusted?   12 comments
A colleague recently told me that one of the biggest challenges that she and other in-house information architects face is earning management's trust. Initially this shocked me, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. There are the standard reasons--staff may be the legacy of a previous manager, there may be personality issues, whatever. But information architects also face some unique challenges: we are a newish and oddly-named profession, lacking in certification or other associated academic pedigrees, assigned to the wrong departments and working on highly abstract tasks that don't translate into clear return on investment. What can we do about it? My colleague suggested reminding managers that information architects are smart, hard-working, and trustworthy people because we're self-motivated and self-taught. In a new field, these qualities are entry requirements. In a way, she suggests taking a perceived disadvantage--we're an unknown quantity--and turning it to our advantage. We can also point to our successes.…

Jun 28, 2004: Search and Taxonomy--Why Separate Teams?   22 comments
A friend who works in a mammoth enterprise environment recently sent me this very good question: Do you have any opinions, quotes, pointers to quotes, etc. regarding the need for search teams to work closely with taxonomy teams? I don't see how they shouldn't, as our core competencies fall on both sides of the information fence: information organization and information retrieval. Yep, I definitely have an opinion on this. It's my experience that these two groups are typically separate because search is (mis)understood to be a technology. "Search? Oh, you must mean that search engine that we just purchased." Because it's viewed as a technology, search ends up in the hands of an IT or IT-affiliated group who are often qualified to support only the technical aspects of search. And of course, search is much more than a technology: there are all sorts of user, content, and business analyses that should inform how search…

Jun 25, 2004: Too Soon to be Disappointed?   2 comments
Last spring I was hunting for information on designing information architectures for global organizations. How would such issues as internationalization and localization impact (and be impacted by) information architecture design? How should information architects address the needs of audiences who speak many languages, live in many countries, and come from different cultures? I posted two Bloug entries on this topic (here and here), and got fabulous responses, for which I'm grateful. Most of the responses were ideas, suggestions, and experiences; there were few references to books, articles, or other "formal" kinds of content. Over two months have gone by, and though I've got a little more experience with IA and globalization, it's not enough. So I Googled "'information architecture' globalization OR globalisation". What were the first two results? Ugh. My own two blog entries. That's not new information. I tried some variant searches. "'information architecture' localization OR localisation OR l10n"? …

Jun 23, 2004: AIfIA is Hiring   0 comments
This happened sooner than I'd ever imagined. Well, it is just a part-time position, but we've come a long way since November 2002. If you know of anyone interested in serving as AIfIA's first Manager of Marketing and Communications, please point them to this job description.…

Jun 22, 2004: Social Network Tools in Search of Solutions   5 comments
Like so many others, I've been experimenting with social networking tools like LinkedIn, Ryze, and the latest entry, Google's Orkut. And I'm probably not alone in wondering about the utility of these tools. I mean, it's sort of neat that I'm one degree of separation (via Cameron Barrett) away from Wesley Clark, but Orkut's intervention doesn't make it any more likely that Wes and I'll be sitting down and nibbling his favorite "regular guy" snack, Cheetos, any time soon. (Though I'll admit I'm surprised: I'd always pictured the General noshing on something square and rigid, say a Triscuit or Wheat Thin.) I'm one degree away from... ...a guy who sees Cheetos as a cuisine. I'm disappointed that these tools rely solely on user-generated profiles to create social connections. It may be sort of useful to let the world know that one lives in Michigan, is looking for activity partners, and drinks regularly. But these metadata…

Jun 17, 2004: She'll Kill Me in About 12 Years   3 comments
...but I just can't resist: Iris at five months. Fat and happy. Will get back to bloggage soon; just in a quiet place of late...…

May 26, 2004: Seattle's New Central Library   6 comments
Greetings from downtown Seattle's brand new Central Library, where I can post a quick blog entry courtesy of the free (well, taxpayer-funded) WiFi. You've probably heard a bit about the Rem Koolhaas-designed building, which opened just last Sunday. If not, you can read about in a recent New Yorker article. I don't pretend to know anything about architecture, and I've never worked in a public library. But I do find this building fascinating. It's an interesting mix of utilitarian and whimsical. You'll encounter great finding aids, like call numbers prominently displayed on the floor next to each row of shelves. And yet I don't believe I could ever learn how the layout of this delightful mess works. Stairs sneak under escalators, escalators bypass floors, floors surprisingly beget other floors. Eleven stories of funky furniture, flooring, fixtures, and finishes. These photos are from SPL's slide show But what strikes me most is how social a place…

May 23, 2004: One Last Drink for the Season   0 comments
Steve Krug and I will be teaching our seminars in Seattle this Thursday (me) and Friday (him). And on Thursday night, 6pm-ish, we're organizing a happy hour for any and all members of the local IA/UX/usability/content management communities. Please spread the word and join us at the Pike Pub and Brewery, 1415 First Avenue between the corners of Pike and Union, just south of the Market. Stop by and ask for the Rosenfeld or Krug group; hope to see you there!…

May 21, 2004: Interesting New Newsletter   1 comment
From KM Connection's Philip Murray, editor of their new bi-monthly (as in six times per year) Barrington Report on Advanced Knowledge Organization and Retrieval (BRAKOR): The theme of the inaugural issue is knowledge organization and faceted classification. The first issue features the following articles and departments: Why knowledge organization plays a key role in enterprise productivity and competitiveness (Philip C. Murray) Analysis of the role of bibliographic classification in emerging enterprise knowledge organization requirements (Claudio Gnoli) A review of BlueBox's Image Information Toolkit (David Riecks) Perspective on trends evident at the DC2003 conference (Joseph Tennis) A review of Endeca's ProFind Search and Guided Navigation for the Enterprise (Philip C. Murray) The first installment of "The terminology of knowledge organization," an effort to build a reference vocabulary for the multi-disciplinary domain of knowledge organization Upcoming events in knowledge organization (both commercial and academic) News items of interest in the domain of enterprise knowledge organization and integration The next issue of BRAKOR will focus on the processes of…

May 17, 2004: Connecting Top-Down and Bottom-Up Visually   1 comment
I was poking around, Googling "information discovery," and stumbled on a simple but really useful diagram created by someone named Keith Stanger. Who happens to be a librarian (same background as me). Who works at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti (same county as me). Who lists Bloug on his blogroll. Very cool. Gotta love the serendipity of the Internet. Anyway, the diagram is a hub-and-spoke network of "communications channels and information discovery tools" for education. The major nodes echo aspects of the common questions library patrons might have when they reach the reference desk, such as "Are there dissertations that cover the topic I'm considering for my own dissertation?" or "I'm looking for an organization that sets rules for high school sports." The leaves represent where the answers are likely to be found. Clearly this would be quite useful to a reference librarian trainee. I certainly could have used it…

May 12, 2004: Tentative Fall Seminar Dates   0 comments
Steve Krug and I are wrapping up our spring tour with a stop in Seattle, May 27-28 (and yes, there are still a few seats open). Or you can wait until the fall, when we'll be teaching in New York, Chicago, and San Jose: Enterprise Information Architecture Seminar (with Lou Rosenfeld) New York: 9/23 Chicago: 10/28 San Jose: 11/8 Don't Make Me Think: the Workshop (with Steve Krug) New York: 9/24 Chicago: 10/29 San Jose: 11/9 Registration isn't available yet for these tentative dates. If you'd like to receive an email once the dates are nailed down, just send me an email.…

May 10, 2004: News Backlog   0 comments
In a new article in EContent, Tony Byrne of CMS Watch asks "Why do Enterprise Content Management (ECM) projects take so long to implement? And why do they fail with such alarming frequency?" The answer, at least according to those of us Tony talked with, often lies with poorly designed enterprise information architectures. In "Enterprise Information Architecture: Dont Do ECM Without It," Tony provides an excellent status report on the situation faced by many large organizations, and some thoughts on potential solutions. On the AIfIA front, our past and current presidents and a bevy of other interesting folks were interviewed for a recent Wall Street Journal article about the newly recognized design challenge known as the presidential daily brief (PDB). Glad to see major mainstream publications starting to show interest in the strategic value of information architecture and information design. From Ann Rockley of "Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy" fame, a new publication, aptly named The…

May 2, 2004: Tools for Information Architects   2 comments
The AIfIA Tools Initiative is slowly but steadily building an excellent collection of tools and other resources that can help IAs work more effectively and explain their work to others. AIfIA's tools include: Graphical User Interface (GUI) Widgets Content Development Spreadsheets Wireframe Templates Introduction to IA Brochures Design Review Checksheets Design Review Process Design Scope Project Overview Creative Brief Project Definition and Scope Process Maps Pretty cool! All this free and available for anyone to use. Naturally, if you'd like to contribute some useful tools that have made your life easier, bring'em on; just send email to iatools@aifia.org .…

Apr 30, 2004: Tanking up in DC   0 comments
...and speaking of Tony Byrne, CMSWatch is sponsoring Steve's and my post-seminar happy hour this Friday, May 7, in Washington, DC. All usability/IA/content management/user experience folks are invited; RSVP here.…

Apr 29, 2004: Ask Tony   4 comments
CMSWatch's Tony Byrne is a content management guru turned advice columnist. Burning question about your CMS relationships? Tony's got the answer: http://www.cmswatch.com/AskTony What a cool idea; maybe it's time for an IA advice column?…

Apr 28, 2004: Also Wanted: A NYC Venue   2 comments
Hi all; a quick query to those of you who know NYC well: Steve Krug and I will be doing a roadshow stop in Manhattan this fall, ideally in September, for two days of seminars. We're looking for a venue that provides theater-style seating for 100-150 people (though we'd consider a larger space too), and are hoping you might have suggestions. We typically bypass the hotel/rubber chicken circuit for nifty alternative venues like art film houses, auditoria at colleges, museums, and zoos. We've had good experiences at the SF Exploratorium's McBean Theater, Zoo Atlanta's Coca-Cola World Studio, and especially the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. Does anything similar come to mind for NYC? A room at one of the museums, or NYU or Cooper Union? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.…

Apr 26, 2004: Wanted: Library Director   0 comments
See, librarianship has survived! Even AIfIA is hiring a librarian. Um, well, ok, so this isn't a paid position. But the IA Library is a cool and worthwhile project, and even if you can't manage the collection, you can help build it. All the details are in the press release; kudos to the volunteers who have pulled this together!…

Apr 24, 2004: Like Father, Like Daughter   2 comments
Oh heck, if I'm going to post silly photos, I might as well put up this one: Let's hope the parallels in receding hairlines are only temporary. More Iris pix.…

Apr 22, 2004: What Is This?   28 comments
Can you guess what this is a photo of? First person who does wins a signed polar bear book.…

Apr 18, 2004: Has Librarianship Survived?   13 comments
So, it's late on a Sunday night, I'm tired, and I'm wondering... Ten years ago, when I was last involved in the library world, it seemed that librarians got no respect. The doctoral program I was about to flee--at the University of Michigan School of Information--was in the process of tearing out its own LIS (Librarianship and Information Science) core, a nasty act of self-disembowelment if there ever was one. Sadly, UM's actions were mirrored at many other former library schools around the US, which climbed over each other to essentially become HCI programs with a gloss of business and engineering stuff. Meanwhile, libraries in just about every sector--public, academic, and even corporate--were undergoing budget cuts, told to do more with less. Salaries and self-esteem were never especially high in the grand old profession, and things seemed to be only getting worse. The only ray of hope? The growth of Internet content; LIS skills should…

Apr 16, 2004: Seattle Seminars--Early Registration   0 comments
...for the Lou and Steve seminar road show is one week from today (April 23). We'll be at the Bell Harbor Conference Center, which seems to have set the standard for urban convention center settings. If you get tired of my droning on enterprise IA, you can just stare out the window and dreamily watch the boats on Puget Sound. My Enteprise IA seminar takes place May 27, and Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think!" workshop takes place the next day. The happy hour will be the night of May 27 at the Pike Place Brewery. And there are still some spaces open for our stop in that "other Washington" (DC)--May 7 and May 8.…

Apr 14, 2004: KM Reinventing IA Reinventing KM   11 comments
James Robertson's Column Two ("News and opinion on all things KM & CM") has been thoroughly ensconced on my list of indispensible blogs for quite some time. In a recent entry, James states: Most knowledge management professionals are completely unaware of the work being done in either the usability or information architecture (IA) fields. Ahem. Yes, I've found this true based on my totally unscientific sampling. James goes on to rightfully caution KM folks not to reinvent the wheel. But as I read his posting, I kept wondering how true it would read if we swapped "KM" and "IA". Isn't the converse true? Aren't information architects just as ignorant of the achievements in KM? For five or six years now, I've been wondering when these two fields would collide. Maybe at a conference like, say, the IA Summit or KM World, which have plenty of overlap in attendance. But, to my surprise, it…

Apr 12, 2004: Information Architecture By Locale   3 comments
As part of my crash course in IA globalization, I recently read John Yunker's excellent "Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies". It's a very useful introduction to the intersection of globalization and web design. Unfortunately, Yunker dances around the IA pool but never jumps in. He does address content management, which is certainly relevant to IA, and discusses gateways, which are as relevant to IA as a naked mud wrestling match between Rick Wurman and Ed Tufte. Even then, the discussion is tantalizingly light, and so far I haven't found any other books that take on globalized IA--if I'm missing some, please comment below. And if someone's itching to write a book on globalized IA, now's the time: Livia Labate and Peter van Dijck, are you listening? One important point that Yunker makes is concept of locale. Locales are the intersection of geography and language, and may have little to do with national borders.…

Mar 26, 2004: IA en Espanol   1 comment
The AIfIA translation initiative is chugging along, this time with a new batch of Spanish language content related to information architecture (some translated, some originally written in Spanish): The Business Value of Web Standards (Jeffrey Veen) The Untimely Death of Yahoo (Louis Rosenfeld) Introduction to IA Brochures (Victor Lombardi and Dan Willis) Information Architecture and Business (Javier Velasco) Introduction to Information Architecture (Javier Velasco) A visual vocabulary for describing information architecture and interaction design (Jesse James Garrett) The Elements of User Experience (Jesse James Garrett) Lots more already available from the AIfIA en Espanol page (http://aifia.org/es). Kudos to Javier Velasco, Jorge Vergara, Fernando Siles, Malisa Gutierrez, and Jorge Arango!…

Mar 25, 2004: Making Sure my Blog has a New Entry Today   3 comments
Even duller than Bloug: this blog has me ROTFL. Courtesy CamWorld.…

Mar 23, 2004: Multilingual, Multinational Information Architecture Design   14 comments
Have you worked on a multilingual, multinational web site's information architecture? If so, there's a future for you; designing such architectures is one of the two frontiers of IA design, along with (naturally) enterprise IA. And if you've worked on multilingual, multinational, enterprise architectures, well then, hats off to you. You've not only come up with ways to make those enterprise silos work together as one information environment, but you've made it happen with content owners and user audiences that literally don't speak the same language. I'm working with a Fortune 500 client that's already gotten off to an excellent start on cracking the enterprise nut. But they operate in dozens of countries and do business in enough languages to make the folks at Berlitz drool. I've been charged with kicking off the research on what's been variously called internationalization, globalization, and localization. (Or should it be localisation?) I'm hoping we can gather some collective notes on…

Mar 16, 2004: Enterprise Blogging   6 comments
Michael Angeles has posted his PowerPoint presentation "Supporting enterprise knowledge management with weblogs: A weblog services roadmap". Michael has mapped out an extremely useful grass roots path that contrasts well with traditional top-down knowledge management approaches. The roadmap in Michael's words: In the near term I suggested first steps towards supporting knowledge creation with RSS. I suggested methods for providing access to aggregated blog output as next steps. And as a far off goal, I discussed the integration of output from sources such as blogs with other enterprise information using social software and social network analysis. Excellent Michael! Now I guess I'll have to go update my own roadmap (for enterprise IA).…

Feb 20, 2004: Deadline for Twin Cities Early Registration   3 comments
Just a quick note for Twin Cities and other Midwestern folk: the early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my St. Paul seminars is February 27, just a week away; don't miss out on the discount! These seminars will be held in the Minnesota Children's Museum, which may sound like a strange location, but heck, my wedding reception was in the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum, and it was a blast. Anyway, the date for my St. Paul seminar on Enterprise IA is April 1, and Steve's usability workshop takes place the next day. We'll host the requisite happy hour the night in between. Other spring seminar locations and dates: Dublin (April 27--Steve only), Washington, DC (May 7-8), and Seattle (May 27-28). And in other news: Dirk Knemeyer was kind enough to interview me to get my take on, among other things, user experience. The interview recently ran in the always excellent InfoDesign.…

Feb 20, 2004: Content Management Lists Gone Wild   0 comments
With the CMS-list apparently gone defunct, Bob Doyle has gone gonzo on filling the void. He's set up the following lists that will hopefully engender a bit more community in the content management arena: CMS - a general mailing list for content management systems. CMS-Forum - for announcements of activity at cms-forum.org. CMS-PR - press releases and marketing announcements from vendors and open-source developer communities. CMS-Develop - to assist those building their own CMS. CMS-OT - off-topic conversations of tangential interest to those in the CMS industry. CMS-Meta - for discussions on how these lists should operate. For more info, see the proposed Netiquette FAQ Kudos to Bob for doing his best to help content management morph from industry to community...…

Feb 10, 2004: Jiggy With It   5 comments
The OK/Cancel guys are at it again. First their hilarious hip hop take on the East Coast/West Coast HCI rift. (I'm guessing that one or both of LL Spool J and Nielly will be gunned down by the finale. Assuming the Magnum sports a usable safety lock.) Now "We Got It," the world's first HCI rap. Peter and I, among others, show up in the lyrics. Desperately trying to figure out how to explain this to my mom.…

Feb 8, 2004: Hillary Clinton, Information Architect?   8 comments
Speaking recently at the World Health Care Congress, the Dems' presumptive 2008 presidential nominee offered her vision for improved health care. Senator Clinton wants to "build an information technology infrastructure that puts the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time." Mmmm, good, sounds very IA-ish. Even better: she said that national government leadership should "ensure interoperability and the use of common standards and terminology." Like XML schema and MeSH headings? Harry and Louise commercials aside, was this what was missing back in 1993? Cool; maybe Hillary or someone else will get it right next time by hiring scads of information architects. Anyway, many thanks to Socialtext's Ed Vielmetti for the tip.…

Feb 6, 2004: Texas Travel Advice?   11 comments
MJ, Iris, and I are headed to the IA Summit at the end of the month. We're making a family vacation out of it, and have a week to kill (roughly March 3-10). So, our question: if you were traveling with a two-month old, wanted to enjoy some warm weather sight-seeing, avoid spring breakers, and were going to do this in the rough vicinity (say, a half day's drive) of Austin, Texas, where would you go? San Antonio (been there; what else is there besides the River Walk)? Kerrville? South Padre Island? Make the haul to Big Bend?…

Feb 5, 2004: The Center Cannot Hold   4 comments
Social networks guru Valdis Krebs recently updated his network map of political book purchases. The blue cluster (co-purchased lefty books) and the red cluster (righty books) remind me of "blue states" and "red states" so well-known from the 2000 US presidential election electoral map. It'd be interesting to see if these book purchases really do correlate with recent political geography. If such analysis was possible, perhaps we could also learn where those "swing" voters live. So maybe Jeff Bezos could start selling yet another product: data analysis for political campaigns. (Hmmm, what on earth would we be a good label for that Amazon tab?) Of course, as Valdis points out, there aren't many books that transcend both clusters, appealing to both sets of readers. Each book is apparently preaching to the converted. If that's true, Valdis' work would reinforce what many pundits are saying right now: energize your base, and ignore the swing voters,…

Feb 2, 2004: I'd Like to Thank the Academy   0 comments
Tony Byrne's CMSWatch includes me as one of content management's Twenty Leaders to Watch in 2004. My guess is that I placed thanks in part to my strong performance in the "Semi-Coherent Outsider's Rant on CMS" subcategory...…

Feb 2, 2004: New Book: IA With XML   17 comments
Spotted Peter Brown's Information Architecture With XML: A Management Strategy in the latest Rockley Bulletin. Rockley provides a review that makes the book sound like a non-technical take on XML, which certainly is welcome: tools like XML are essentially worthless unless the "whys" are addressed sufficiently for management's benefit. But is or isn't this an IA book? Some interesting discussion to that effect on the AIfIA-members (only) discussion list. Jesse James Garrett, for one, isn't too keen on this as an IA title: "The book seems to be about technical details of enterprise information management with an eye toward systems interoperability. Issues of structural design appear to be, at best, only touched upon." Not so sure I agree with Jesse, but then again, neither of us has read it. So I'm casting about to see if any Bloug readers are familiar with Brown's book. If so, care to contribute a book report?…

Jan 28, 2004: Nyah Nyah   2 comments
Heh. I scooped the New York Times by four years. Heh.…

Jan 22, 2004: InfoDesign Relaunch   0 comments
Peter Bogaards' incredible InfoDesign web site/news service, along with ia/, keeps many of us in the know when it comes to user experience stuff. It's one of those incredibly useful sites that's too good to be true, so of course I'm always fretting that it might suddenly vanish. Who knows? It'd be easy to imagine how InfoDesign's maintenance could burn Peter out. Or worse, Peter might get distracted by something silly, like discovering a new love, futzing with a new iPod, or launching a new solo consulting business. Well, I'm both surprised and thrilled to find that InfoDesign is healthier than ever. Dirk Knemeyer, Karel van der Waarde, and some other good folks have redesigned and improved the site, and, I'm sure, by doing so have made Peter's life easier. Even if you're just remotely interested in user experience, experience design, or just plain design of any flavor, go check out the redesigned InfoDesign site…

Jan 7, 2004: Content Management for Information Architects (and Others)   0 comments
Most of you already know that the fifth edition of the ASIS&T IA Summit will be taking place in fabulous Austin, Texas, where the weather is pretty nice in late February (2/28-29). Each Summit has been a don't-miss event, and yet they manage to get better every year. What you may not know is that AIfIA is sponsoring a day-long pre-conference workshop on Content Management for Information Architects on Friday, February 27. The excellent speaker line-up features such luminaries as Bob Boiko, Joseph Busch, Tony Byrne, and Ann Rockley. It's a critical topic, as so many of us find ourselves perched at the intersection of IA and CM. And it's a great deal: US$500 through January 24, US$575 thereafter. Please register soon, as space is limited. And keep in mind that the money goes to some good, non-profit causes (AIfIA and ASIS&T). Hope I'll see you there (if baby Iris lets me make…

Jan 2, 2004: Wow   26 comments
Iris Rachel Rosenfeld joined us early the morning of December 31, healthy, beautiful, and even smiling a bit. 7 lbs, 10 oz. MJ is doing great, and I'm in love. …

Dec 28, 2003: Do you know JODI?   0 comments
I'm probably the worst-read information architect on the planet (give me fiction any day), but I might have to squeeze the Journal of Digital Information onto my teensy regular reading list. They just keep coming up with great stuff, peer-reviewed to boot. Here's their latest batch of articles: D. Deniman, T. Sumner, L. Davis, S. Bhushan, J. Fox: "Merging Metadata and Content-Based Retrieval" Y. Jacobs Reimer, S. Douglas: "Implementation Challenges Associated with Developing a Web-based E-notebook" R. Lempel, E. Amitay, D. Carmel, A. Darlow, A. Soffer: "The Connectivity Sonar: Detecting Site Functionality by Structural Patterns" You can sign up to have JODI email you new issue alerts. Kudos to the British Computer Society and Oxford University Press for making this content available!…

Dec 21, 2003: Enterprise IA as Intellectual Property   2 comments
A while back, HP's Deb Seys and I were emailing back and forth about my entrepreneurial model for an enterprise IA team. Deb said: ...things like a company wide metadata standard or a controlled vocabulary belong to the company as a whole, they are intellectual property (IP) that must be owned and managed by some group with a top down sanction. How would an entrepreneurial group get traction in setting an enterprise wide standard when they have no real authority to do so?" Interesting question, but I'm more fascinated by Deb's extremely astute observation: she points out the existence of something I've not heard anyone discuss before, at least not in the IA world: enterprise information architecture intellectual property. A horrid term; let's give it the absolutely horrid acronym "EIAIP". What might constitute EIAIP? It's the aspects of the information architecture that help unify a site across business unit silos. Because it pertains to…

Dec 16, 2003: Today Denmark, Tomorrow Chile   4 comments
More news on the AIfIA front: we're helping to sponsor one of the first IA-related events in Chile, happening this Friday, December 19, in lovely Santiago. AIfIA also recently announced its sponsorship of a similar event in Korsoer, Denmark, happening in March. It's a blast to see the field getting so much traction internationally. AIfIA will be sponsoring more international IA-related events; I'll keep you posted. One more AIfIA note: CMSWatch has joined AIfIA as a partner. Read the news release for complete details. Other miscellaneous tidbits: My pal Ed Vielmetti is a partner in SocialText, a provider of "enterprise social software". Kudos to Ed and gang; their Workspace product just won the PC Magazine Editor's Choice award in the wiki services category. MJ and I are about to launch our own new venture. The baby (our first) is due any day now, so Bloug may be a bit quieter during the upcoming days. Or months. …

Dec 12, 2003: Spring 2004 Seminar Schedule   0 comments
Hi all; time to announce my seminar schedule for Spring 2004: April 1, 2004: St. Paul, Minnesota May 7, 2004: Washington, DC May 27, 2004: Seattle, Washington My day-long seminar on Enterprise Information Architecture will help you convert a disjointed collection of content silos into a unified, user-centered web site or intranet. To that end, I provide a combination of design recommendations, political advice, and research methods that work in the highly political and often nasty environment known as the enterprise. The day includes a balance of lecture, discussion, and group exercises, plenty of handouts and a polar bear book, all washed down with a lively happy hour at the end of the day. And once again, I'll be pairing up with usability god Steve Krug of Don't Make Me Think! fame. After you attend my seminar, plan to attend Steve's day-long workshop based on (and going beyond) his excellent book. Same venues, day after my seminar. …

Dec 5, 2003: Weekend Reading and Whatnot   0 comments
Hanan Cohen tipped me off to "On Search," XML guru Tim Bray's "irregularly-published series of essays on the construction, deployment and use of search technology". Looks extremely useful and practical; wonder if this will soon make it into print? More good free content: Wilshire's 2003 Enterprise Data Forum trip notes. Always interesting to get a glimpse of another community's take on enterprise and metadata issues. UKOLN will be organizing ECDL 2004, "the 8th in the series of European Digital Library Conferences. ECDL has become the major European forum focusing on digital libraries and associated technical, organisational and social issues." Definitely a venue where IA will get discussed, implicitly if nothing else. And I'll bet Bath is a nice place to hang out in September (or any time of year, for that matter), so consider submitting a paper. Thanks to Livia Labate for the pointer. And this looks interesting: http://www.controlledvocabulary.com…

Dec 3, 2003: AIfIA News   0 comments
AIfIA's new Event Sponsorship Program has its first partner: the Danish Research Library Association, which is producing the Forum for Information Architecture (DF-IA) conference in Korsoer, Denmark, March 9th - 10th, 2004. This is the first IA conference to take place in Scandinavia, and AIfIA is proud to be helping make it happen. Nice discounts for AIfIA members, by the way. Speaking of AIfIA members: AIfIA's new membership fee plan has deep student and group discounts, and fees that correspond with what part of the world you live in. Check it out and consider joining; it's a great deal.…

Dec 2, 2003: Skip This Rant and Read Shirky   8 comments
As you can tell from my title, I'm a fan of this short but brilliant piece by Clay Shirky: "The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview". Shirky shreds many assumptions behind the Semantic Web by exposing a major crack in its ontological foundation: a reliance on syllogisms ("If A=B, and B=C, then A=C"). These little packages of logical goodness may sound nice on paper, but often require us to make huge generalizations and don't occur frequently in real life, where the Semantic Web is supposed to actually help us. Shirky goes on to describe the Semantic Web as a kind of reverse engineering of the old artificial intelligence problem: AI doesn't work in ambiguous, multi-domain environments, like the real world for instance. So the Semantic Web's approach turns the tables by moving much of the burden from technology onto the shoulders of content authors: "Since it's hard to make machines think about the world, the…

Nov 21, 2003: Let's Have a Content Management Party!   9 comments
What if we threw a party for content management community, but didn't invite the CMS vendors? Who would show up? And what would they talk about while tucking into the crudites, Doritos, and cheese balls? I've been a fly on the wall for many conversations about content management. Invariably, people are vexed by Vignette, irked by Interwoven, dissed by Documentum. Although these are gripe sessions, the griping is all about products. CMS vendors have been so successful at setting the agenda for the content management world that they dominate practitioners' discussions, and even though perceptions of CMS are often negative, all publicity is ultimately good publicity. But there's clearly more to content management than CMS technologies. Content managers have to figure out all sorts of non-technical stuff, like: Adapting to and modifying content workflow and publishing processes Metadata development Content modeling Content integration Marketing and acceptance Staff training and documentation Cultural and political issues Relationships to other areas such as authoring, information architecture, interaction…

Nov 17, 2003: New Online Card Sort Tool; Other Notes   0 comments
Andy Edmonds, a human factors masters student at Clemson, is developing a new online card sort tool. uzCardSort (currently in v0.9) provides exploratory data analysis and a rudimentary clustering algorithm. It "produces a tab-delimited similarity matrix," and v1.0 will support "a full hierarchical analysis and hopefully a Flash based dendogram." Check out the site; Andy has some sample screen shots to give you a good sense of how uzCardSort works. Great to see the emergence of these tools to support IA and similar work; I just wish search log analysis tools would catch up... Other notes: Abe Crystal and Paula Land were kind enough to assemble a trip report from the Dublin Core 2003 "Metadata and Search" pre-conference workshop. It was an excellent, informative workshop; kudos to organizers Joseph Busch and Michael Crandall. I'd been wondering why the heck I was going to DC2003, but after the day was done, I was glad I'd participated; you…

Nov 15, 2003: Interaction Design Coalescence   0 comments
At the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy, Molly Steenson has been hard at work developing The Hub, a resource and discussion site on interaction design. Looks like a great resource! It's ambitious, and scalability will be tough, but Molly invites participation in the Hub's blog; perhaps that will help feed the useful collection of resources on interaction design and related fields, like information architecture. Hmmm... except that there's no section on IA. Hey Molly, what gives? Speaking of interaction design, a group of Very Smart People led by Challis Hodge have started an interaction design exploratory group. This grew out of Bruce Tognazzini's recent wakeup call for some sort of coalescing among interaction designers. The group is still trying to determine whether it should stand alone as an organization, a la AIfIA, or join forces with an existing organization. Whichever route they go, I wish them the best success. I've always felt…

Nov 11, 2003: Search Log Analysis Tools   19 comments
On November 19 I'll be giving a short talk on search log analysis at the Southeastern Michigan UPA meeting here in Ann Arbor. (It'll be followed by an AIfIA F2F meeting; come to both!) I'm usually pretty surprised at how few UX people are even aware of search log analysis, much less understanding its value as a user research technique, so I'll introduce it and will run attendees through an exercise. If you want to come, it's free for members, $8 for non-members; 6:30pm at Soar Technology (3600 Green Court, Suite 600); RSVP to uid@compuware.com. I'm pretty ignorant about what are considered the best tools for generating search log reports. I've asked the opinion of one of the world's leading experts, Avi Rappoport of SearchTools.com, but she's pretty frustrated by what's out there, which makes me pessimistic. But before we send up the white flag, it'd be nice to ask around a bit more. I'd love for people to…

Nov 7, 2003: Who Says IAs Don't have a Sense of Humor?   3 comments
Check out this poster (617Kb PDF) which uses the metaphor of dating to explain information architecture. Ah, if only it was so simple. Dating, that is... The poster accompanies a paper presented at CHI 2003, "Dating Example for Information Architecture" (284Kb PDF), presented by Ray Henderson, TaRan Wilson, and Miyuki Shimbo. Thanks to noted UX humorist Dean Karavite for the pointer!…

Oct 31, 2003: It's a Floor Wax and a Dessert Topping   0 comments
In Boxes and Arrows, a hugely useful article by Karl Fast, Fred Leise, and Mike Steckel: "Controlled Vocabularies: A Glosso-Thesaurus". It does double duty as both a glossary of terms related to controlled vocabularies and "an illustration of what a controlled vocabulary looks like". Well done guys.…

Oct 29, 2003: Italian IA   1 comment
Come posso tornare alla homepage? Cosa significa questa label? These and other important questions are answered in Information Architecture, the first IA book I know of to be originally written in Italian. The authors are Laura Caprio and Beatrice Ghiglione, two of the people behind the site InformationArchitecture.it, "il primo sito italiano sull'Architettura dell'Informazione." Congrats to Laura and Beatrice! Related note: as part of its Translating IA initiative, AIfIA has made Italian translations of various IA materials available.…

Oct 28, 2003: IA and Usability Networking in Atlanta, 11/3   1 comment
Hi all, another set of Krug/Rosenfeld seminars is fast approaching (the last one of 2003, actually). I teach my Enterprise IA seminar Monday 11/3, and Steve teaches Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop on Tuesday 11/4, at ZooAtlanta. Still a few spaces open if you're interested. After my Monday seminar, we're organizing an open happy hour for all in the IA/UE/UX/whatever-you-call-it community. If you're in or near Atlanta, drop by the Rose & Crown in Buckhead (288 E Paces Ferry Rd NE) around 6:30pm for some meet and greet, booze and stumble...…

Oct 28, 2003: Behavioral and Structural Modification   3 comments
CMS Watch points to "The Missing Link," an excellent column by Thomas R. Davies in Governing.com. Just as in the private sector, government agencies are flummoxed by the silo problem: "...apparently, government leaders would rather tackle the challenges of failing schools, rising health care costs and finding money for homeland security before taking on the information-sharing bugaboo. Can it really be more difficult to get everyone to disseminate data among themselves than to eliminate billion-dollar budget deficits?" (Clearly, government agencies need the services of a good enterprise information architect or two. Or sixteen.) Davies goes on to reference Donald Marchand's work on "information orientation" (IO). To paraphrase Davies, IO-savvy organizations can: manage IT applications and infrastructure; manage information over its life-cycle; and instill and promote behaviors and values for the effective use of information. This last point is perhaps the most important of the three, and is yet the least understood. Summarizing a study by Marchand, Davies notes…

Oct 27, 2003: Experience People   0 comments
...is the name of Challis Hodge's new venture. The gist: "XP works across industries matching the best companies with industry leaders in Design Management, Experience Planning, Creative Direction, Interaction Design, Information Architecture, User Research, Interface Design, Graphic Design and Academia." The timing may be pretty good, with admittedly anecdotal signs that the industry is picking up. Challis has excellent instincts, so let's hope this is a sign of better times to come.…

Oct 19, 2003: The Enterprise Metadata Nut: Cracked?   5 comments
In my take on enterprise information architecture, enterprise-wide metadata development is the most ambitious, "way off" component of the architecture. It's Really Hard to get different business units to agree to a single metadata schema. It's Really, Really Hard to get them to then populate those metadata attributes with semantically consistent values. I've already yammered on this topic in a past Bloug entry, so I won't get into it further here. However, I can at least offer you a simple diagram (40kb PDF file) to explain the enterprise metadata situation as I see it. But some really smart people I know, including Joseph Busch, Bob Boiko, and Michael Crandall, seem to be fans of SchemaLogic's SchemaServer product. According to SchemaLogic's site, SchemaServer offers: "Support for shared schema and local variations via a generalized model "Vocabulary management enables conceptual interoperability and cuts system management workload "Change management enables data stewards/stakeholders to track dependencies and ensure availability…

Oct 17, 2003: Knowledge Management, Information Design, and IA   0 comments
Judith Lamont's article on information architecture ran in September's KMWorld magazine. Brief overview and coverage of a few case studies, and a positive take overall; nice to see IA get some exposure in the knowledge management world. Thanks to Peter Bogaards' wonderful InfoDesign site for the tip. On another note, JoDI (the Journal of Digital Information) just put out a call for papers for a special issue on information design models and processes. The submission deadline is December 15.…

Oct 16, 2003: Support for Local IA Events   0 comments
AIfIA is at it again: this time we're offering financial, logistical, and marketing support for local and regional IA-related events. AIfIA is trying to help information architecture get a foothold around the world, and this support is just one step in that direction. You can learn more about the program and how to participate from the news release or from the program's complete details.…

Oct 15, 2003: Presentations on Enterprise IA   1 comment
I've put up a couple of fresh presentations on my site for your enjoyment/perplexment. They're both for the KM World/Intranets 2003 conferences taking place this week in Santa Clara, California: The first condenses some issues related to designing the enterprise information architecture. This expands a bit on the "enterprise IA roadmap" that I made available recently. I'm trying to come up with a big picture and rough prioritization of which pieces of an enterprise IA to develop and when. The second is a description of an "enterprise information architecture framework" that covers issues which need to be addressed to develop an enterprise IA strategy. Think of the seven issues I mention as a model for the table of contents of an enterprise IA strategy document. Of course, if you really like this EIA stuff, come to one of my upcoming seminars on the topic... :-)…

Oct 14, 2003: What Would MachIAvelli Do?   2 comments
I really enjoyed Jeff Lash's latest column in Digital Web, "Soft Skills for Information Architecture". As usual, Jeff hits the nail on the head: While much of ones success or failure depends on the skills specific to information architecturelike diagramming, documenting, organizing--an even greater indicator is soft skills: dealing with conflict, negotiating, and communicating. One particularly critical piece of advice from Jeff is to let other people do the work for you. I wish he'd have devoted a bit more to this topic, because it's deliciously Machiavellian. Many of us are defensive and anxious in our interactions with our colleagues, but if IA is truly strategic to our companies' success, we're a bit more powerful than we realize. Why not abuse that power a little, as long as the ends that justify the means are positive and no one puts out an eye in the process? Lately I've been counseling my clients to…

Oct 13, 2003: IA Networking Events in the Bay Area   0 comments
A couple of Bay Area networking opportunities coming up over the next week: This Wednesday (October 15), I'm hosting an AIfIA face-2-face at 6:30pm in the hotel bar at the Westin Santa Clara Hotel (5101 Great America Parkway). Many of us will already be there to attend the KM World/Intranets conference, but you don't need a conference ticket to enter the hotel. On Monday, October 20, Adaptive Path is sponsoring a San Francisco happy hour immediately after my "Enterprise IA" seminar. This event takes place at "Final Final," 2990 Baker Street (at Lombard Street); people will start showing up about 5:30pm. Naturally, I hope you'll consider attending my seminar as well as Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop", which takes place the next day, October 21, also at the Exploratorium. There are still some spaces available. Hope to see some of you at one of these upcoming events!…

Sep 29, 2003: October 3 IA Event in Tokyo   0 comments
I'm headed to Tokyo, where Sociomedia is hosting a forum on information architecture this Friday. Sociomedia's Manabu Ueno and I will be giving talks, followed by a panel of Japanese information architects. The day wraps up with networking activities that include an AIfIA F2F (face-to-face) meeting organized by Nobuya Sato. If you are a Tokyo information architect, please join us.…

Sep 25, 2003: Supporting Local IA Groups   0 comments
More AIfIA news: we're looking for feedback on how AIfIA might support local IA groups. To that end, a very easy, very brief survey. Please take a moment to complete it, and feel free to share the URL with other information architects and fellow travelers who might be interested. Many thanks!…

Sep 25, 2003: Enterprise IA Roadmap   9 comments
Hi all; as part of my seminar series on enterprise information architecture, I've developed what I'm calling a "roadmap" that describes which aspects of the enterprise's architecture should be developed and when. My goal is to show that there are certain aspects of a site's architecture that are worth tackling right away for quick wins, others that you'll get around to later, and others that you might never reach in a distributed, highly politicized enterprise environment. My hope is that this helps to break down a large and daunting challenge into smaller, digestible, manageable pieces that can be addressed over time. Many IAs are feeling overwhelmed by the scope and size of the architectures they've been tasked with, not to mention the vagaries of the enterprise environment. This is at least a straw man to react to, if not follow literally. www.louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/images/EIAroadmap.pdf (45k PDF file) All comments welcomed; after all, it's one of them "living documents". And, naturally, if…

Sep 24, 2003: AIfIA Tools Initiative   0 comments
The folks at AIfIA have assembled content on useful IA tools. According to AIfIA press guy Gene Smith, ...the Tools are a collection of model templates and deliverables that can be used by information architects to help sell IA services to clients. The initial "toolkit"--which includes a sample creative brief, design review checklist and process map--is available for free from the AIfIA website at www.aifia.org/tools. The IA Tools are available for anyone to use. (If you have templates and documents that you would like to share with the community, contact iatools@aifia.org. An AIfIA volunteer will work with you to "cleanse" your submission(s) of proprietary logos and language and add it to the IA Tools page.) Kudos to Erin Malone, Austin Govella and Jason Pryslak for their hard work!…

Sep 23, 2003: IA Summit 2004 Call for Papers   0 comments
This February, the fifth IA Summit will take place in Austin, Texas. Each year, these get better and better (and as the chief programmer for the first two, I'd say the first ones were pretty good to begin with!). The content is great, the price is low, and the social vibe is always outstanding. Even if you find the conference somehow not to your liking, Austin is a great place to kill a weekend. The BBC's Margaret Hanley is chairing this one, and her call for papers is appended below: IA Summit '04 -- Breaking New Ground Hilton Austin, Austin, Texas February 27-29, 2004 CALL FOR PAPERS Scope of the Conference Some of us in the IA field are solidifying the IA foundation, digging deeper, while others are pushing the boundaries working with other fields and platforms. In both cases, we are "breaking new ground". The ASIS&T IA Summit 2004 is seeking submissions from information architecture practitioners and researchers that support this theme.…

Sep 20, 2003: From the Devil's Dictionary   0 comments
...a new definition of information architecture. Thanks to Ralph Brandi for the tip.…

Sep 16, 2003: San Francisco Seminars   0 comments
Quick and crassly commercial note: the early registration deadline for Steve Krug's and my San Francisco seminars is September 22, just around the corner. The seminars take place at The Exploratorium October 20 and 21; all the details are here. Related, fun note: on October 20, our friends at Adaptive Path will be sponsoring a happy hour for attendees and for anyone in the IA/UX/usability communities; 5:30pm at Final Final, 2920 Baker Street (at Lombard). Hope to see you there!…

Sep 15, 2003: Another Labeling Exercise   10 comments
What does the term "enterprise" mean to you? Yeah, I know that your first impulse will be to crack some joke that has to do with Kirk, Picard, or Seven of Nine. "OK, so a Romulan, a Ferengi, and an entire Borg colony materialize into a bar..." But seriously, folks, I'm struggling with a labeling problem here. I've been teaching a seminar series called "Enterprise Information Architecture: Because Users Don't Care About Your Org Chart". The "enterprise" I'm talking about is a large, decentralized, messy organization--could be a multi-national corporation, a government entity, an academic institution. Whatever form they come in, enterprises cause headaches for information architects: too much content, too many user audiences, and what information architecture there is reflects the org chart, not users' needs. I'm convinced that the enterprise setting is where the IA jobs are and will be for years to come; all those CMS, search engines, and portal installations are absolutely…

Sep 12, 2003: Notice Anything Different?   0 comments
Bloug finally has search! And an archive that allows browsing by date range. Still working out some kinks, but please go ahead and kick the tires. I've always been a bit skeptical about how much searching and browsing gets done on any blog archive. But there are about 200 entries and a growing number of reader requests for improved access, so now we'll get to see. Please note that the search engine is the extremely basic one that comes with MovableType; no bells and whistles there. Special thanks to Rich Klarman of studio mobius, my technical guru, for working with me to make this happen.…

Sep 10, 2003: Yukking it up in Espanol   4 comments
Those crazies at Barbol are having fun with the polar bear...…

Sep 9, 2003: IAs from SMEs   7 comments
An interesting question came up during a conversation with nPower's Paul Nattress at the post-seminar happy hour in London last week: will future information architects start out as subject matter experts? Seems like most of us come from a "industry neutral" background; perhaps we've studied graphic design, like Paul, or library science, like me, or technical communications or some other field that is focused on the creation or communication of information, regardless of setting. We're interested in the information itself; its origin and topic don't matter so much. Conversely, I don't typically run into IAs who started out as, say, materials scientists, mortgage brokers, or specialists in medieval British history. But it's not hard to imagine someone starting out at a utility company, maybe down the corridor from Paul, with a civil engineering background. After a few years as a researcher, she becomes interested in how to better organize the company's growing collection of technical reports.…

Aug 29, 2003: Various News and Notes   4 comments
Peter van Dijck's Information Architecture for Designers is due out any minute now. I've had a sneak preview, and I highly recommend it. It's a highly visual book and as such would be worth buying for your designer colleagues. On the other (back) end of the spectrum, you can now get certified in content management. The University of Washington's iSchool is offering a Content Management Certificate Program. Bob Boiko, author of the Content Management Bible, is involved; that alone makes this a program of distinction. Personal stuff: I'm headed to the UK today to teach my Enterprise IA seminar (and hook up with Steve Krug, naturally). Speaking of the UK, Ann Light has run an interview with me in UsabilityNews.com. Boxes & Arrows published "(Not) Defining the Damn Thing," a short rant of mine about the futility of trying to label ourselves (lots of really good comments, BTW). Ah, labeling: Mary Jean and…

Aug 28, 2003: Get Sloshed at our London Happy Hour   2 comments
Steve Krug and I are hitting the seminar trail again this fall (London, San Francisco, and Atlanta). He's doing his excellent "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop," while I'm the Captain Kirk of the USS "Enterprise Information Architecture" seminar. As always, booze is involved. With sponsor RedEye ("the eCRM experts who can show you how different types of customers use your web site"), we're organizing a happy hour in London this Thursday, 4 September. The location is Soho pub "The Picture and Piano" (69-70 Dean Street), and we'll be there from 6-8pm. Lots of great networking opportunities, so we hope you'll join us. But you'll need to RSVP with RedEye to hold your spot: email bertie.stevenson@redeye.com or call 0207 627 9300. Hope to see you at the seminars, the pub, or both next week!…

Aug 27, 2003: Keeping Up with the Best New Stuff   6 comments
A couple months ago, still new to the iPod, I naively asked you loyal Bloug readers to tell me how you learned about new music. Wow. Ask and ye shall receive. Over 20 thoughtful responses at last count. Folks, there is plenty to chew on here, and I've only just begun sampling your advice. Thank you very much. But I read too. I like various varieties of art. I watch the boob tube on occasion. I even understand that there are other interesting media out there. And I want to learn more about the new, cool stuff in all of them. So what about this idea: we grapple with a number of variations on the "how do you keep up with...?" question right here on Bloug? I envision an informal series where we share our Internet-Age tips on learning about new fiction, blogs, poetry, recipes... Whatever the medium or genre,…

Aug 17, 2003: Extra, Extra! Mystery Solved by Usability Engineer!   9 comments
Wow, no Blougage for a while. Not surprising; I've been on a couple of extended road trips much of the past few weeks, and there just don't seem to be many Internet cafes in places like Wilmington, New York or Joliet, Illinois. I'll get back into the swing of things soon, though work is already picking up a bit too fast for comfort. For now, I leave you with something educational--no, really more than that--a fantastic solution to one of history's great mysteries. My friend, Dean Karavite, a usability engineer at IBM, has decoded Homer's ancient epics to unearth the origin of that holiest of holy hair cuts--the mullet! "Work in front, man, party in back!" Here's Dean's piece; enjoy. Recently I decided that my liberal arts education was incomplete and that my personal reading would focus strictly on the classics. This week - The Iliad (translated by Robert Fagles). Little did I know or expect the rich intellectual rewards that…

Jul 23, 2003: Ah, Joy Not Related to IA   4 comments
MJ and I have been playing on the Ann Arbor Observer softball team for the past three summers (ever since the demise of the late but not great Argus team). Our first season we finished 1-9; a year later, 7-3. Last night we won our tenth of ten. We're still shaking our heads; an undefeated season. Even more amazing, our starting lineup's age averaged about 45 (double that of some of our opposing teams). And our co-MVP is 71. Some things do get better with age. Unrelated again, MJ and I are off for a two week road trip out east. So no Blougage for the near future. Nope, this is the time for us all to suck the marrow from the bones of summer. Yum. Enjoy.…

Jul 22, 2003: Steve and Me: London, San Francisco, and Atlanta   1 comment
This fall, Steve Krug and I will be hitting the road again with our alternating day-long seminars. Steve will teach "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop", and I'll be spouting off about "Enterprise Information Architecture". Here's the schedule: London,UK September4,2003: "Enterprise Information Architecture" September 5, 2003: "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop" Early registration deadline: August11 San Francisco,CA October20,2003: "Enterprise Information Architecture" October21,2003: "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop" Early registration deadline: September22 Atlanta,GA November3,2003: "Enterprise Information Architecture" November4,2003: "Don't Make Me Think: The Workshop" Early registration deadline: October6 You can attend Steve's, mine, or get a discount for attending both. And a volume discount when three or more people sign up from the same organization (or, as they say in the UK, organisation). So get those chequebooks ready, and please spread the word. Hope to see you this fall!…

Jul 18, 2003: From UX to DC to the White House   0 comments
Some tidbits for a lazy Friday. The DUX 2003 conference's case studies are now available from the AIGA web site. Lots of great stuff; my favorite was John Armitage's "And Another Thing...The Current Site is in German": The Final Project in an International Digital Business Consultancy (.5Mb PDF file). John's presentation at DUX was funny as hell, and informative to boot. Speaking of conferences: those of you who are fools for metadata, Dublin Core fanatics or just DC-curious should check out this September's DC 2003, September 28 to October 2 in lovely Seattle. (Great time of year there weather-wise.) Metadata gods Joe Busch and Mike Crandall have assembled a pre-conference seminar on metadata and search. Participants include Sun's Christy Confetti Higgins, Microsoft's Alex Wade, UC-Berkeley's Marti Hearst, and yours truly. Finally, another interesting pick from the NY Times: John Markoff's article on the user-unfriendliness of the White House's new email system. The Bush folks are…

Jul 14, 2003: The Undeath of Yahoo!? and more   5 comments
Just read in today's NY Times that Yahoo! is acquiring Overture. Assuming the numbers crunch properly, this seems to be a great move for Yahoo!; they get to combine what's left of their original directory with Overture's keyword service, which actually makes pretty good sense for consumer-oriented directories.Making decisions based on the biggest ad is how yellow pages users often do it; similarly, bidding-based placement seems like it should be appropriate to Yahooligans. Overture up 12% today; Yahoo! up 3 cents to $32.28. Hmmm. Suddenly Internet stocks are getting interesting to watch again. Hmmm. And to think, eight years ago I was predicting Yahoo!'s demise. Well, the directory's, at least. This is the first time I've felt that prediction might be wrong. In other news: AIfIA's initiative to translate IA texts has gone live. It covers seven (count'em) languages: Nederlands, Espanol, Portugues, Italiano, Japanese, Francais, Dansk. Pretty cool. Kudos to Peter van Dijck…

Jul 11, 2003: Where Have All the IAs Gone?   9 comments
I have a theory, and I wonder if it can be proven. I've talked with a lot of people who feel that there are fewer information architects today than there were during the dot com peak. And in terms of visibility outside the field, that perception is quite understandable. Back in 2000 and early 2001, there were scads of design firms and agencies with the budget to prime their publicity pumps. Naturally this benefited the information architects who worked for those companies, who, like their colleagues, received some attention in the industry media. And back in those days there still was budget to attend plenty of conferences. I think that information architects back then were primarily outside consultants. We hadn't been around long enough to be recognized much inside bricks and mortar environments, much less gainfully employed in those settings. I'm a big fan of the 80/20 rule, and I'll bet that 80% of information architects worked for…

Jul 5, 2003: Patriotic Fun   3 comments
Passed along by Rich Wiggins: Try this ASAP while it still works: Go to Google. Do a search for: weapons of mass destruction Click on "I'm feeling lucky" laugh! …

Jun 22, 2003: Yet Another Reason to Visit Portland   3 comments
Nick Finck and friends are putting on the third WebVisions conference, July 18 in Portland: How invaluable would it be if you had the full and undivided attention of a web expert such as Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path available to answer any questions you may have at the drop of a hat? Well, now you don't have to wonder anymore because on Friday, July 18th 2003 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon you will get that chance. Explore the future of the Web at WebVisions. WebVisions is a forum designed to encourage dialog about ideas and the ever-changing possibilities of web site design and development. The goal is to inspire the Web community and individuals to look at how the Web will evolve in the long run and visualize the possibilities. We will see you there. http://www.webvisionsevent.com One of these days I'll have to actually make it out there...…

Jun 20, 2003: New IA Job Board at AIfIA   3 comments
Looking to hire an information architect? Or looking for a position? I'm thrilled to pass along word of AIfIA's latest initiative, an IA job board. According to Samantha Bailey, the initiative's leader: I'm writing to announce the launch of the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture Job Board. We're launching a job board specifically targeting the kinds of positions that AIfIA members are seeking with the goal of bringing the best candidates in the field together with the organizations who need them. AIfIA is the only professional organization solely dedicated to information architecture professionals and our membership serves as a qualified pool of candidates in this emerging field, so we think this is going to be an attractive service for employers, leading to an excellent pool of postings for our members. The Job Board is launching in phases; initially we're going to be sending out a weekly email collection of text postings. In future phases we plan…

Jun 7, 2003: Upcoming Chicago IA/UE/UX/... Happy Hour   1 comment
Chicago is the last stop on Steve Krug's and my spring seminar tour (his seminar and mine). Naturally, we're sponsoring a happy hour, Monday June 16 6pm-ish at the Kaz Bar, inside the House of Blues Hotel in the Loop (329 North Dearborn; 312.245.0333). It's open to all in the Chicago-area usability, information architecture, and user experience communities; please get the word out, bring your pals and join us! I'll be the guy sitting in the corner alone, awkwardly fumbling a coaster.…

May 31, 2003: Discovering New Music   24 comments
Sometimes my ongoing quest to understand information needs ends up at my own doorstep. Now that I've gone ga-ga over my new iPod and crammed it 3.3 days worth of tunes into it, it occurred to me that all this music is stuff I already know. After all, 90% of it is ripped from my own CD collection. Which is nice, but what about new music? To put it in the language of information needs, I'm all set for known-item searching. I know that I've got The Band's "Caledonia Mission," and I know how to find it on my iPod or iBook. But what about new music? I don't know what I don't know. And honestly, I've not sought out new music for years. I'm sure the music landscape has changed quite a bit in that time. So how can I find out what's out there? This is clearly a time to turn to the peanut gallery: how do you learn about new…

May 28, 2003: User Testing: What's really on our minds   2 comments
From Ben Buja, by way of Seth Gordon: …

May 24, 2003: IA and CM; or, What I Shoulda Said...   12 comments
Tony Byrne interviewed me in the latest CMSwatch which, if you don't already know it, is a great site for keeping up with what's happening in the world of content management (CM). The interview was done by phone, so immediately after hanging up I was thinking about all these things I should have said (or explained more eloquently) about the relationship of IA and CM. So here are a few thoughts: Field vs. Industry? Though it's emerging as a field, CM is a really an industry, dominated by CMS vendors. IA is a field, and there really isn't a class of software vendors who consider themselves the "IA industry". CMS vendors have invested significant moolah into polishing and spreading the CM message to clients and analysts alike, and have helped finance CM conferences as sponsors and exhibitors. IA, without these commercial benefactors, barely scrapes by, dependent on the largesse of established organizations like ASIS&T to provide infrastructure…

May 23, 2003: PB2 in Korean   2 comments
The Korean translation of IA for the WWW (2nd edition) showed up today. Very cool. Of course, I have no clue whether there is a market for IA in Korea, at least not right now. Korean information architects: are you out there? First person to send me a business card in Korean (scanned image will do) with the job title "information architect" on it will get a signed PB2 in return. And don't get tricky; I'm sure I can find someone to translate the card for me. And while I'm feeling completely narcissistic, behold this cool photo of Bogie and me, together at last. That's what happens to you when you spend a couple days in LA. Heads swell. Actually, I'm feeling pretty damned threatened by that hovering head. Maybe if I hold real still the giant Bogart won't notice me...…

May 22, 2003: The Most Practical IA Advice   15 comments
Don't know why I never mentioned this here before, but when we outfitted our office last year, I went out and purchased a 4'x8' whiteboard from Staples. You know, the kind with a chintzy aluminum frame and weak fastening tabs which, over a year or two, would likely snap off from weight stress. The thing cost about $250, but hey, what good is an information architect without a whiteboard? The next day I happened to find myself at Lowes. A large white shiny thing caught my eye in the "Lumber'n'Other Large Flat Unwieldy Items" section. Lo and behold, a 4'x8' sheet of melamine, intended for lining a basement shower stall, but perfectly suitable for dry erase markers. And no crappy aluminum frame to fuss with. All for the incredible price of $9.99. I bolted it up on the office wall in minutes, and sent the overpriced version back on its way to Staples. I fully…

May 21, 2003: Cake That Will Lift Your Soul   9 comments
OK, you'll probably never get to see one of them up close, but these cakes are abso-fuggin-lutely incredible edible art. Behold!!!…

May 21, 2003: The Water Cooler at the Beeb   1 comment
Whatever's in it, I'd like some please. It's helped those folks churn out a site with an absolutely cutting edge information architecture. Very smart BBC information architects like Matt Jones and Margaret Hanley are quaffing it. And now there's yet another BBC blogster to keep up with thanks to their mysterious H2O: Martin Belam. If you're interested in practical applications of search, I suggest you check his site out.…

May 15, 2003: IA/Usability Happy Hour in LA   1 comment
All Los Angeles-area IA/ID/UE/UX/TC/ED and other various design folks: please join Steve Krug and me for a happy hour this Monday (5/19), around 6pm, at Genghis Cohen's. All the details are available at the following evite. Hope to see you there!…

May 14, 2003: Blah blah blah usability blah blah blah enterprise IA   4 comments
The O'Reilly Network just published an interview with Steve Krug and me. It's hard teaming with Steve and his sense of humor; makes me look like I have the personality of a garden trowel...…

May 13, 2003: Metabook   2 comments
Speaking of metadata, Amy Warner just pointed me to Adrienne Tannenbaum's book Metadata Solutions: Using Metamodels, Repositories, XML and Enterprise Portals to Generate Information on Demand (Addison-Wesley, 2001). Yow, that title is a mouthful. But it does hit on some important keywords. Very, very interesting... Before I plunk down my $45, just wondering if any of you IAs and fellow travellers out there have opinions on this book?…

May 11, 2003: Got Enterprise Metadata?   4 comments
Check out EContent Magazine's article on content integration by Tony Byrne of CMSWatch fame. Tony paints a great picture of the issues surrounding integrating content, data, and applications across departmental silos or "stovepipes," as he calls them, and describes some of the software tools that hope to address these problems. His article nicely illustrates many enterprise IA issues; in fact, it's one of the few things I've read that touches on how metadata might (or might not) be used to integrate content across the enterprise's silos. ContextMedia's InterChange is one of the more promising CI tools that Tony discusses. It "builds and maintains a major central metadata store... Capturing all that metadata-and normalizing it around the Dublin Core or some other universal schema-is the first critical task of any ContextMedia implementation." Yow. That's nice and all, but it sounds pretty damned ambitious. In fact, all enterprise-wide metadata initiatives sound pretty damned ambitious. Strange for…

May 5, 2003: UX Bumpage   14 comments
User experience (UX) is too young to be clearly defined as a field, a movement, a community, a methodology, or a goal. But whatever it is, there is definitely a there there. For example, Dennis Schleicher, with a background in ethnography, just sent an email to me, with a background in librarianship, about a presentation on UX made at the Society for Technical Communication's annual conference by Lee Anne Kowalski, who I'm guessing has a background in technical writing. In turn I forwarded Dennis' email to Jess McMullin, whose background is in psychology. Meanwhile, many of us are gearing up for the first DUX conference (DUX = Designing User Experiences), which is co-sponsored by SIGCHI, SIGGRAPH, and the AIGA. Those are very strange bedfellows indeed; oh, to have been a fly on the wall at their program committee meetings... I'm sure you've come across such weird interdisciplinary agglomerations in your own work, whether or not the term UX came up.…

Apr 27, 2003: Come Out Drinking in DC   0 comments
Steve Krug and I are organizing an IA/usability happy hour this Wednesday after my seminar in DC (and the night before his). We'll be at Mantis around 6pm: 1847 Columbia Road NW (202 667-2400). If you'd like to join us, please go to the Evite page and let us know (so we can warn the bar about how many to expect). Hope to see you there!…

Apr 21, 2003: Early Registration for LA Approaches   0 comments
Just a quick note for LA-area folks: the early registration deadeline for Steve Krug's and my seminars is April 28, just a week away. The LA date for my seminar on Enterprise IA is May 19, and Steve's usability seminar takes place May 20. FYI.…

Apr 21, 2003: Blogging K-logging   8 comments
I'm bumping into some great stuff on k-logs (knowledge weblogs used (mostly) inside organizations). K-logs promise to be inexpensive, lightweight, and valuable knowledge management tools, especially for teams. Any IAs (or others) have any experience with k-logs you'd like to share? Oh yeah, what I found: Giles Turnbull has a nice brief introductory interview with John Robb in writetheweb. The piece is about a year old, and John goes out on a limb and predicts that k-logs "will be huge," adding that they will "potentially become the first new widely adopted desktop productivity tool since the browser". OK, a year's up; prognosis? :-) For an evolving case study, try Rick Klau's blog entry, where he describes his software firm's month-old pilot k-log project. Rick's goal is to "make the intranet more of a destination - a place where individuals throughout the company are able to easily share their observations, questions, and experience". He describes pilot user selection,…

Apr 15, 2003: The Death of IA Discourse?   19 comments
It was posted by Stig Anderson, but it's a sentiment surely common among many SIGIA-L subscribers: Some time ago this was a great forum for relevant IA discussions and knowledge sharing. However - the amount of posts, disputatious and argumentative to the point of the meaningless (for the majority of list members), have become way too high. Sadly, as I don't know where else to turn. Amen, brother. SIGIA-L does have a growing problem with nastiness and noise, not to mention occasional trolls. I've almost unsubscribed on three or four occasions in the past few months. And while I'm angry that the list has gone down the toilet, I don't see moderation as the answer. So what do we do? SIGIA-L is following a lifecycle common to many new communities. A few pioneers, some excitement as it takes off, an emerging sense of community... Then the downward spiral begins. It seems that in similar situations,…

Apr 13, 2003: Data Geeks Come Home   4 comments
Through UX hub Paula Thornton, I recently came into contact with Bob Seiner, publisher of TDAN.com: The Data Administration Newsletter. For the past few years, I've been wondering when I'd bump into folks from the data management/data warehousing world. Or when they'd bump into information architects. Maybe it's starting to happen? Bob's latest article, "A Conceptual Meta-Model for Unstructured Data," discusses some of the differences between structured data (the stuff that TDAN's readers typically work with) and unstructured data (the stuff that makes up most web sites, and is dealt with by most IAs, librarians, and technical writers). Have a read and you'll see that Bob covers some familiar ground (including defining metadata) with a fresh and definitely different perspective. While structured and unstructured data are definitely not the same thing, practitioners can learn a lot from each other. For example, end users don't seem to figure much in the (precious little) data management literature…

Apr 10, 2003: CHI's Search Cornucopia   0 comments
Wow, I wish I'd gone to CHI this year. Avi Rappoport, SearchTools.com guru, pointed me to the papers from the Search Usability Workshop. So much good stuff, I don't know where to begin. I highly recommend that anyone interested in search have a look. Kudos to the workshop's organizers, Misha Vaughan, Marc Resnick, Helmut Degen, and Peter Gremett, for assembling such a great group of participants, and for making the papers publicly available.…

Apr 10, 2003: The Steve and Lou Show   0 comments
Andy King of Web Reference talked with Steve Krug and me about our opinions on, among other things, UX. Read the interview and you'll see that (gasp!) we don't agree! (Note to self: avoid joint interviews with people who have much better jokes.)…

Apr 8, 2003: Congratulations to Boxes & Arrows!   4 comments
If you read Bloug even occasionally, you're probably tired of my constant kudos for Boxes & Arrows magazine. So I'll let someone else say nice things: B&A has been nominated for a Webby award ("Print & Zines" category), which is very cool! Read all about it at: http://www.webbyawards.com/main/webby_awards/nominees.html And naturally, there are some great new articles in B&A. Go read now.…

Apr 3, 2003: For DC-Area Folks   2 comments
Just a reminder that April 9 is the early registration deadline for my day-long seminar on enterprise information architecture (DC date: April 30). This is an ambitious seminar; I'll be providing guidance on how to both design and maintain a cohesive architecture in a large, distributed, politicized enterprise environment. I understand that there are a few government employees in the greater DC area; if you're one of them, you might find this seminar useful. Don't forget that Steve Krug will be on hand too; he'll be teaching his own day-long usability seminar, same location, next day (DC date: May 1). There's a discount if you register for both; another discount if you register three or more from the same organization. And Steve and I will be hosting a happy hour the night after my seminar for attendees and perhaps some other local userati. Steve's pretty damned entertaining, and after a few stiff ones, I am too.…

Mar 30, 2003: IA on their Minds   6 comments
Nice to see information architecture receiving coverage in a couple sister fields. The April 2003 issue of Intercom ("the magazine of the Society for Technical Communication") is running a cover story on IA by Mir Haynes. The title is "Information Architecture: You Do It, You Just Don't Know It". Some IAs grouse at this "everybody does it" angle, feeling it undermines the sense of IA as a true profession. Methinks it's great: if more people know about IA, more will realize--sooner or later--that it addresses problems that really are often sufficiently complex to require information architecture specialists. Another article from a couple months back: Rusty Foster's piece titled "Understanding Information Architecture" in Online Journalism Review. So IA has made it onto the radars of journalists and technical communicators. Who else? Feel free to toss in some links to other fields' takes on IA below; maybe we can compile a nice little list...…

Mar 27, 2003: Parli Italiano?   4 comments
Just received my copy of Architectura dell'informazione per il World Wide Web, 2a edizione. Very cool to see the three circles of doom translated as "contesto," "contenuto," and "utenti"...…

Mar 25, 2003: Wee Report on the IA Summit   0 comments
Just back from the IA Summit in lovely Portland, Oregon. I think Christina Wodtke and the rest of the program committee really outdid themselves; these Summits just keep getting better and better. This year's edition offered a keynote by Stewart Brand, followed by two days of three concurrent session tracks, not to mention evenings of much boozy jollity. Spirits were definitely higher than the past two years. There were often two and sometimes three sessions per time slot that I wanted to attend. I'm hoping to catch up on what I missed from the spate of trip reports that will likely crop up over the coming week on blogs near you. In fact, there was a blog set up for live reporting from the conference that you might want to visit. In the meantime, I'll contribute just a wee bit of coverage here. Former Argonaut Amy Warner's session on thesaurus design really charged me up. …

Mar 18, 2003: Got Social Networking Exercises?   23 comments
I'm looking for suggestions on nifty ways to get strangers to network at my upcoming seminars. I'd love to make it really easy for attendees to meet people who share something in common--or, for that matter, who are completely different. I've been having difficulties finding good ideas, and would love some input. If I pick your method, there's even a secret surprise gift in it for you As an example, it'd be nice for attendees to see that they share the same color name badge, or provide them with some other reasonable excuse to initiate a conversation. Perhaps a pre-seminar survey would reveal interests, background, job titles, or other ways to match people, and these attributes could be communicated by badge colors or something similar. Or is this sort of thing just a waste of time? Coincidentally, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick for the umpteenth time recently. The protagonist runs for President with the slogan "Lonesome no…

Mar 17, 2003: Back from Chile   0 comments
Spent a wonderful two and a half weeks in Chile, bookended by Santiago jaunts with perhaps South America's most famous information architect, Javier Velasco. Great guy whose extensive evolt.org experience is coming in quite handy with the AIfIA membership database initiative (more soon; stay tuned!). By the way, Javier is moving to Maine next year; let him know if you're not far from Orono and perhaps we can start building his New England social network right away. Chile is a great place to visit, even if Javier might not be there by the time you make it. Will try to write something up on it soon, but right now am ramping up for the 4th IA Summit, this week in Portland. Hope to see many of you there!…

Feb 25, 2003: My Big News   6 comments
I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be teaching a new day-long seminar called "Enterprise Information Architecture." I'll be tackling the frustrating challenge of getting a large, multi-departmental and hugely political web environment to behave like a single, unified, user-centric web site. You'll find the description and registration information here: http://louisrosenfeld.com/presentations/seminars/eia/ The seminar takes place in three US cities this spring, all in funky downtownish theaters. The X-Factor will be enhanced by the proximity of Steve Krug, he of Don't Make Me Think! fame. Steve will be teaching his own day-long usability seminar the day after each of mine — same cities, same venues: Washington, DC April 30: Lou May 1: Steve   Los Angeles, CA May 19: Lou May 20: Steve   Chicago, IL June 16: Lou June 17: Steve Questions? Please send them to seminars@louisrosenfeld.com, where my enormous customer service department is standing by to help you. (I'm headed out of town for a couple weeks.) This is a really important topic: just about every client…

Feb 21, 2003: AIfIA Leadership Seminar Early Registration Deadline   0 comments
Hi all; just a quick reminder that tomorrow (Saturday 2/22) is the deadline if you want to save some money on the AIfIA Leadership Seminar. All sorts of great IA stuff to learn; hope to see you there!…

Feb 17, 2003: Still Quiet   1 comment
Hi all, still pretty silent here; I'm sure I won't be blogging too much until I get my iBook back from Apple and life gets back to normal. I've been without for about three weeks, thanks to Apple's laggardly service department. I absolutely prefer my iBook to my old Dell laptop, but while the Dell seemed to require a lot of repairs, their service representative would come to my office within a day to repair my laptop. I wish that Apple was so concerned about its customers. Whining aside, I've been busy with a top secret project that I'm looking forward to announcing soon. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please read Adam Greenfield's excellent interview with members of the AIfIA Leadership Council. Jeff Lash, Karl Fast, and John Zapolski address Adam's tough questions, squashing much of the misinformation that accompanied AIfIA's launch.…

Jan 30, 2003: IA Summit Alert   1 comment
My Mac's been dead for most of the past week, and thanks to a goof-up by Apple service, my Web access will continue to be limited for at least a few more days. Hence all quiet on the Bloug front. But I can steal enough time on the wife's laptop to let you know that the 4th annual ASIS&T IA Summit is coming up soon: March 21-23, in Portland, Oregon. From the Stewart Brand keynote to the last session, it's really an incredible program; kudos to Christina Wodtke, Dick Hill, and the rest of the committee. Online registration for the Summit is now available. Woops, almost forgot: in conjunction with the Summit, a bunch of us AIfIA folk are putting on a day-long pre-conference seminar — here's the full story. The seminar hits on many of the important issues information architects face, space is limited to 50, and the proceeds go to an excellent cause — the AIfIA.…

Jan 21, 2003: A Journalistic Take on IA   8 comments
Nice to see a write up on IA in the Online Journalism Review. Mentions some good folks I'm fortunate to know, like Christina Wodtke, Andrew Hinton, Peter Morville and Jesse James Garrett. Also mentions this thing called AIfIA. More importantly, it's nice to see IA getting some play in the journalism world, as these fields have so much in common. Which leads to my question: any current or former journalists among Bloug readers who've explored this intersection? Or care to below? Thanks to Kuro5hin.org's Rusty Foster for writing this article.…

Jan 15, 2003: Questions Information Architects Ask (London, 11/02)   7 comments
As promised, here are the burning questions about IA that our seminar attendees had at Nielsen Norman's London conference in November 2002. The NYC questions, also from November, were posted last week. Content-related questions Are Content Management Systems relevant for all sites? Even if implemented well, do they always give positive ROI? (I hate the CMS I have to implement. The user interfaces is slow and publishing is cumbersome, as is site management.) How important are contextual links? How many users use them? Would it be wise to rate the content item by capturing "usefulness" on a scale of 1-6 where 3 is neutral and then presenting these first in the UI display? (if article "A" is more useful that "B" then display "A" before "B") What is a good way to deal with acronyms or abbreviations within an organization when they are well known for only 50% of the staff? If you label them it won't make sense for the people who are…

Jan 13, 2003: IAs: Better at Marketing than they Thought?   8 comments
A couple of days ago, Challis Hodge was having some fun with Google over at UXblog™. He compiled a list of 25 position titles and job roles related to user experience (UX). Then he searched each string in Google and ranked the results. The top four were by far the most common, accounting for 93% of all results: Web Designer 797,000 Graphic Designer 489,000 Art Director 400,000 Creative Director 189,000 These aren't surprising, especially as numbers 2, 3, and 4 have been around for quite a while, certainly before the Web revolution and before terms like "user experience" and "experience design" became more common. More interesting is that "information architect" clocked in at #5 with 40,100 results. Astonishing. If you take out the top four titles (outliers? ;-), and charted #5-#25, "information architect" would be pretty far out in front, even ahead of what I'd assumed were much more common terms: "usability engineer," "information designer," and "interface designer". I just happen to have such a distorted and manipulative chart…

Jan 9, 2003: Questions Information Architects Ask (New York, 11/02)   1 comment
Margaret Hanley and I taught yet another round of IA seminars for the Nielsen Norman Group in November, these in New York City and London. As usual, we asked attendees to write down their burning IA questions on index cards. And as usual, we're sharing them with you below. These might be helpful if you're preparing an IA seminar yourself, or, if nothing else, they're an interesting snapshot of what folks were interested in during late 2002. I'll put up the London questions in a few days. Questions on methodology Is IA primarily an analytical process or primarily a creative process? What is the role of creativity in developing on IA? Suggestions on how to implement from a current state of IA to a desired state. How do you deal with usability during IA work? Do you use usability as an inquiry tool? What's the impact of usability on IA? How to manage items/pages that do not have a "natural home"…

Jan 6, 2003: Sort of New Web-based Card Sorting Tool   6 comments
Some folks at Brigham Young University have developed WebSort, a web-enabled card-sorting tool that, unlike IBM's EZSort, doesn't exclusively run on Windows. Technical stuff: "As currently implemented, WebSort requires a Web server that supports the PhP programming language and the Mysql, database. The participant categorization interface is currently implemented in FLASH and requires a FLASH plug-in for the Web Browser." I didn't see anything about how one actually obtains this tool, but in any case, you can read all about it (and pester the tool's creators) here: http://www.acm.org/chapters/nuchi/2002/09mtg_websort/WebSort.html…

Jan 2, 2003: Viaje Chileno   4 comments
MJ and I are considering a trip to Chile. I've been pumping the wonderfully generous Javier Velasco for advice; there are certainly some great photos on his site. But the guy has a day job, so I can't lean on him too much. And Lonely Planet isn't enough. So if you've travelled to Chile (or live there), and have some travel advice, tips, or stories to share, lemme know.…

Dec 30, 2002: Those Imperialistic Catalogers   1 comment
Prentiss Riddle pointed me to an interesting article in Chuck Scholton's iDude site. Chuck writes: I am simply amazed by the fact that the following options appear in country select boxes on many websites. Bouvet Island Heard & McDonald islands Why? Because they are uninhabited. Ahem. Interesting lesson for those who are developing controlled vocabularies. CVs certainly should be consistent, but they also must balance design for use. Of course, perhaps some cabal of catalogers is secretly planning to colonize these forlorn places. You never know what those folks are up to. Anyway, read the whole article for a illustration of just how difficult it is to develop CVs for even seemingly simple domains like place names. Maybe Nathan Shedroff should read this article (see Nathan's 12/28 comment on this Elegant Hack thread ;-) . Two other quick notes: The December issue of Digital Web is jam packed with IA articles. I'm especially enjoying their regular IA column, Jeff Lash's…

Dec 17, 2002: Basements   7 comments
MJ and I are relieved; all four walls of our basement have now been replaced. We'd lived in fear of this project ever since we signed the contract back in March--lots of disruption, dust everywhere, the whole yard torn up, an even more dyspeptic cat--and if you've ever replaced your foundation, you know how friggin' expensive these projects can be. But it's gone incredibly quickly; they were in and out in less than three weeks. And instead of bowing, corroding block walls that could be excavated with a dull soup spoon, we now pleasantly find ourselves tramping down the stairs to a clean, neat, almost cheerful space, full of right angles, natural light streaming through new windows, and much less clutter thanks to our weekly regimen at the Kiwanis drop-off desk. And what does this have to do with information architecture? Damned if I know. Do basements have a place in the architecture analogy? Do our sites…

Dec 16, 2002: Wondering about Advanced Search   7 comments
Some good discussion on when to use "Advanced Search" on SIGIA-L recently. Actually, the discussion was as much about why to use it as about when. Everyone I talk to suggests that users don't bother with it very much. How come? Here are some guesses; feel free to suggest your own: It's mislabeled. "Advanced" might turn off users who don't consider themselves advanced. Or it might conjure an image of a complicated interface that not useful enough to bother learning. Or one for which there is no convention; yet another reason not to mess with it. For one reason or another, the term "Advanced" probably turns off most users. It's mislocated. When do we really need "advanced" functionality? When we want to revise a search that didn't perform as well as we'd hoped. When does that happen? After performing that initial search, naturally. Instead of the false dichotomy of "Simple/Normal/Basic Search"…

Dec 14, 2002: Reasons to Feel Good   0 comments
Former Argonauts Karl Fast and Fred Leise, and Mike Steckel have begun a series of articles on faceted classification at Boxes and Arrows. I'm sure I'll enjoy the content, assuming my shock wears off soon: a few years ago, I couldn't have imagined a single article on faceted classification being published outside the library world, much less a series. A quick look at Boxes and Arrows will reveal other esoteric topics, like shopping mall design, mobile technologies, the politics of intranets, and tips for drawing wireframes in Visio. OK, maybe these topics aren't so weird on their own--what's weird is that they appear in the same publication. And that it all comes together so nicely. So kudos to everyone involved in B&A, especially its editors, for their combinatorial brilliance. Get into the holiday spirit and go buy some B&A schwag. B&A is not the only current example of user experience design ascendant--I'm really looking forward…

Dec 10, 2002: Balancing Volume with Influence   44 comments
You should check out the great discussion taking place on iaSlash.org. The topic is one that bedevils many IAs: how to balance input from large user audiences with input from influential user audiences. It can be tempting to segment and study users based audience size, as the math is simple. For example, if students represent 75% of a college site's users, then 75% of our subjects should be students. But for college administrators, some of the smallest audiences--alumni, corporate donors, recruiters, and the media--might be half the reason for having a site at all. Interestingly, the reverse can be true: I know of an organization that historically catered to highly specialized medical researchers, as per their mission. When their site launched, the general public quickly became the largest audience for this organization's content. Clearly this will require changes to how their content is authored, and to the architecture itself. But what's most interesting is…

Dec 3, 2002: Information Needs Analysis   13 comments
I occasionally like to ramble on about information needs. This is one of those times, so you've been forewarned. Each user has a different type of information need depending on what he's trying to find and why he's trying to find it. If we can determine the most common information needs a site's users have, we can select the few best architectural components to address those information needs. For example, if you are designing a staff directory, you might safely assume that most users are performing known-item searching. The user already knows exactly what she's looking for ("I need Joe's phone number"), she has the terms necessary to articulate that need ("I know Joe's last name is Shmoe; that's what I'll search under"), and she knows that the staff directory exists and that it's the right place to look ("Joe is an employee of the company; where else would I look?"). This type of information need…

Nov 24, 2002: Ann on Lou on EIA and More Tidbits...   0 comments
If you're interested, Ann Light, editor of UsabilityNews.com, did a brief write-up of my talk on enterprise information architecture (4Mb) at the London chapter of AIGA-ED. This has been out a month or so now, but forgot to mention a nice interview that Marc Garrett did with me and Peter in since1968.com. Finally, some non-narcissistic (and actually useful) notes: "The Information Architect: A Missing Link?" is a brief article written by two Chilean computer scientists/information retrieval experts. The abstract: "Motivated by many of the problems faced by computing professionals and what we teach, we propose a framework for designing curricula related to technology. In particular, by using this framework, we argue that a new professional, which we call the information architect, is needed. We propose a specific set of courses, which can also be justified in more standard computer science or information systems programs." Warning: this article contains (yet another) three circle diagram. Thanks to Dennis Schleicher for forwarding it…

Nov 19, 2002: Feeling a Bit Prodigal   6 comments
Whew. Glad to be back home in Ann Arbor. Eighteen talks in two months is too much. Note to self: let the wife handle the scheduling from now on. Gave another talk on cracking the enterprise IA nut, this time at Nico Macdonald's London AIGA-ED group; you can download it at low low price of 4 Mb. And yesterday, participated in a panel on IA and user studies at ASIS&T 2002 in Philadelphia. I spoke mostly about search log analysis as a technique for understanding users' needs (217 Kb), and enjoyed Gary Marchionini and Amanda Spink's presentations as well. Also, the attendance at Margaret Hanley's and my IA seminars for the Nielsen Norman Group were very high, and much as I'd like to think otherwise, all credit to the topic for drawing so well. Despite the crapola economy, people definitely are interested in IA. And many of the same people like to drink; we…

Nov 6, 2002: Headed to NYC   1 comment
If you're in the New York city area, join us for an informal IA happy hour that I'm organizing (if you can call it "organized") this Thursday. This is something we typically do after one of our day-long IA seminars at Nielsen Norman's Usability Week conferences; we'll organize another in London next week. We'll meet Thursday 6pm sharp at the concierge desk at the conference hotel: the New York Marriott East Side. The hotel is located at 525 Lexington Avenue, between 48th and 49th Streets; hope to see you there. Some other quick notes: Many thanks to John Rhodes for interviewing Peter and me in WebWord (and for WebWord in general). Finally, thanks to all of you who've publicized, joined, and otherwise cheered on the AIfIA! …

Nov 5, 2002: The Joy of Analogy   5 comments
Last week I gave a couple of talks at Dartmouth. Quite a swell time; the leaves were at the height of their New Englandy splendor, and I got to chum around with Web Style Guide authors Sarah Horton and Pat Lynch, and rocket surgeon Steve Krug. I gave a too-basic IA intro talk (3.0Mb), but the night before yammered on about what user experience (UX) design means for liberal arts institutions (2.2Mb) like Dartmouth. The dinner audience of faculty, librarians, and IT folks politely listened to me lecture on what UX is, why they should care, and how they might educate UX professionals. But what really stirred them from their apple tarts were the screen shots I showed them from Amazon and other sites that support strong user experiences in innovative ways. Everyone in the room was already familiar with the cool features, such as recommender systems, reviews, and ratings, that we've come to expect from sites like Amazon's.…

Nov 3, 2002: The Big News   2 comments
Bloug's been quiet of late. One excuse: an incredibly stupid travel schedule assembled by yours truly (greetings from Atlanta!). Much more interesting excuse: spending lots of time as part of a great team that's been developing the first and only professional association of information architects. The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture officially launches Monday! Yes, the name's a bit mysterious. In a nutshell, Asilomar is a conference center near Monterey, California; an incredibly stunning (and reasonably priced) place for a weekend retreat to hash over what it means for information architects to organize. And yes, we're calling it an institute rather than a society or association; "institute" seems to carry less baggage. Why am I bothering? And why should you care? Because: The AIfIA presents an opportunity to create a new kind of professional association, taking advantage of information technology to deliver relevant and innovative services cheaply and effectively to a burgeoning global professional…

Oct 23, 2002: Sick and Tired   2 comments
Sorry--little Blougage of late--but I'm literally sick (fighting a very nasty cold) and tired (mostly of traveling, which is really wearing me out). Not completely looking forward to spending three of the next four weeks away from home, and have only myself to blame. But hey: I can at least point you to a few odd and ends here and there until I recharge my Blougometer. One is that Christina Wodtke's new book, Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web is finally out! I'm planning on curling up in bed with my copy this afternoon; rest, Echinacea, and the brilliance of the Elegant Hackster ought to revive me. The other tidbit: Amy Warner launched her beauty of a site recently, designed, naturally, by Studio Mobius. Amy's a renowned expert on metadata and thesauri, but, as you'd guess, she's a former cataloger, and people of her ilk aren't the most aggressive self-promoters. So I'll do it…

Oct 10, 2002: Evangelizing User Experience Design on Ten Dollars a Day   12 comments
Care to join me in some brainstorming? I'm curious to know what you find to be effective, low-cost techniques for making the case for investing in user experience design. For example, here are my current favorites: The ROI Case: Not my personal favorite, because I think ROI cases are generally hooey. But, when used carefully and ethically, these can be valuable for convincing bottom-liners that UX has merit. After all, everyone likes to do things that make or save money. Going to the Videotape: Showing highlight tapes of frustrated users wrangling with a poorly-designed site is a tried and true technique. And they're just plain fun to watch. Telling Stories: Tales of design-related horror are effective because the person you're telling your story to begins to identify with the story's sad but spunky hero. Of course, thanks to UX, the story has a happy ending, and hopefully your target will envision a similar outcome…

Oct 8, 2002: Yet Another Definition of IA   2 comments
Posted the other day on SIGIA-L by Andrew McNaughton: Information Architecture (n): A conveniently vague term under which a variety of disciplines meet to address the problems of organising large amounts of information on the web. Well put, Andrew. I know that his tongue was at least lodged partially in his cheek, but I like acknowledging that our field is vague. And that this vagueness is, in a way, convenient. And maybe even good. Information architects don't tend to be comfortable with vagueness. We tend to be disambiguators, foes of informational anarchy. As the new kids on the block, we're generally a bit freaked out about where we fit on our design and development teams, or where to draw lines of responsibility on our projects. Those insecurities make us forget that IA really is and has to be somewhat amorphous. The end result of our work may be clarity, but are there many pursuits more unclear and…

Oct 6, 2002: Questions Information Architects Ask (Part II)   0 comments
A week ago, I published here on Bloug a list of burning information architecture questions from last June's San Francisco attendees of our Nielsen Norman IA seminars. Later that month, we asked our Sydney attendees for the same thing; their questions appear below. Enjoy! Is it worth having a seminar on "How to translate IA concepts into business cases to sell to senior managers"? What's a good quick way to assess if your colleagues/stakeholders are top-down or bottom-up thinkers? In usability, there is a push for "continuous improvement." IA often seems to be "big bang"how can we deliver on an ongoing basis? For clients unwilling or unable to spend money on IA studies, what might be the minimum or most effective tools to use for a site re-design? With many of our clients, they operate with legacy systems and infrastructure. When we reorganize the content they start dividing what "we can do" and what "we can't do" which starts destroying the overall impact.…

Sep 28, 2002: Questions Information Architects Ask (Part I)   3 comments
In June 2002, Margaret Hanley and I asked our Nielsen Norman seminar attendees to list their burning information architecture questions. Not surprisingly, we found that information architects are people with a lot of questions. The list below comes from our San Francisco attendees; a week from now I'll put up a similar list from our Sydney attendees. Unless you're an IA enthusiast/masochist, don't read through these lists in their entirety. However a glance or two might be interesting, especially if you're going to be doing some IA teaching yourself. Or if you just plain want a sense of what's going on in your peers' heads. Perhaps these lists will be a useful artifact for some future historian of IA. Anyway, here you go; enjoy: The relationship/conflict between technology and IAfor example: technology driving the side structure and how to avoid that; having a complex architecture that has in fact outrun the available technology and how to deal with…

Sep 27, 2002: Let's Make a Deal   3 comments
The deal is this: I make all my recent presentations available from my site. All your favorite topics! The 80/20 rule, designing search systems, IA within the broader context of UX... In return, I get to plug the IA sessions that Margaret Hanley and I will be teaching this fall as part of Nielsen Norman's UsabilityWeek tour. OK, here goes: two full day IA tutorials--one basic, the other more advanced--chock full of all of your other favorite topics, including enterprise IA, content modeling, search results design, metadata... The list goes on and on. November 7-8 in NYC, November 14-15 in Londontown. Hope to see you, even if you can't make our sessions.…

Sep 20, 2002: Yet More on the 80/20 Rule and IA   8 comments
I'm giving a brief panel presentation at the University of Michigan Business School this afternoon. Another riff on Pareto's Principle. Did you know that his first name was Vilfredo? If you'd like a gander at my Powerpoint slides, they're at http://www.louisrosenfeld.com/presentations/020920-umbs.ppt (868 kbytes).…

Sep 16, 2002: Question for a Very Dreary Monday Morning   9 comments
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Anyone?…

Sep 11, 2002: 80/20 Again—Critical Architectural Junctures   3 comments
Information architecture design practices lean on the 80/20 Rule (aka the Pareto Principle) time and time again. Here are just a few examples: 80% of your site's users belong to 20% of the site's audiences. 80% of users' information needs are served by 20% of the site's content. 80% of users' navigational needs are served by 20% of all possible architectural components. 80% of users' searches are represented by the 20% of unique searches that appear most frequently. By identifying "sweet spots," these rules have obvious design implications. They allow us to focus our efforts on the few options that provide the greatest benefit. Besides maximizing bang for the design buck, the 80/20 Rule can counter and neutralize bad design decisions, politically-motivated or otherwise. Helpful as it is, let's not take the 80/20 Rule too literally. Is it 80% or 79%? Is it 20% or 11%? Who knows? Who cares? It doesn't matter all that much, as long…

Sep 10, 2002: Google is at it Again   0 comments
Tara Calishain of ResearchBuzz wrote a nice short piece on search tools that provide clustered results in LLRX.com. My recent rants on search have mostly been about improving results presentation, and there's lots of food for thought here. Of all the tools Tara lists, I found Google Sets most interesting, even though, oddly, it's not about search results. It's also a lot of fun. Enter a couple of terms, and Google Sets will provide similar or related terms that can help you expand a query or understand a domain better. I tried "Pee Wee Herman" and "Barney" (don't ask why) and got some interesting results. Some (e.g., "Raffi" and "Teletubbies") seemed relevant, some (e.g., "Spice Girls") not. At least I didn't think so. Anyway, this could be a useful approach if your site doesn't have a thesaurus handy. Apparently some of the term relationships come from the Open Directory Project; don't know any more about…

Sep 7, 2002: Quick Notes   0 comments
A couple of notes on friends who reside along the technical communications/usability axis: Beth Mazur's IDblog is finally back and I'm happier than a coondog on a bare leg. It's been a long lonely time since IDblog went on hiatus, so welcome Beth back by clicking on through to the other side. And while you're at it, check out Whitney Quesenbery's new site. Whitney's striking out on her own as an indie consultant. Welcome to the club, Whitney! Lastly, a request: if anyone's attending "ISIC 2002--Information Seeking in Context" next week, please consider writing up and sharing a trip report. Glad to post it here on Bloug. Really wish I could go.…

Sep 5, 2002: Your Mileage Will Always Vary   10 comments
My pal Rich Wiggins writes: "Can two or more entities have identical or nearly identical information architectures? "Take Hertz and Avis, for instance. Obviously their labeling differs, but they are in the same business and serve the same kinds of customers. Could it not be said that their information architecture therefore overlaps greatly? ... What I'm driving at is this: Why should an entity need to do in-depth information architecture research if another similar entity has already been down that path?" Geez, Rich, I'd thought that the answer was obvious: to keep all us high-priced information architecture consultants off the streets! Yes, Avis and Hertz are basically in the same business, serving the same types of clients, providing similar content. I imagine if you asked the people who run those companies, they'd acknowledge being competitors. They'd probably claim to be very different too, and those differences could require their sites' architectures to vary substantially. The…

Sep 4, 2002: Intranet Usability Report   5 comments
It's been out for a few months, but Alison Head's report "On-the-Job Research: How Usable Are Corporate Research Intranets?" looks well worth a read. Yet more fodder for making the case for investing seriously in intranet user experience.…

Aug 30, 2002: Too Soon for Overexposure?   0 comments
Geez, lots of hot dogged Bloug entries lately; guess the publicity machine is in full gear. Anyway, a bunch o'new interviews with Peter and me just came out: In the latest Web Reference editor and fellow Ann Arborite Andy King asks Peter and me about the second edition, not to mention seven deadly IA sins. B&A's Paul Nattress talks with me about the life of an independent IA consultant. In the process I provoke interaction designers. BTW, B&A is running excerpts of our case study on Microsoft's intranet. We were also interviewed by Antonio Volpon in FucinaWeb. If you don't speak Italian, try the English version. …

Aug 29, 2002: 2003 IA Summit CFP   0 comments
Next year's Summit takes place in Portland, Oregon, March 21-23. The call for participation is now out, so get crackin'. Some guy name of Stewart Brand is keynoting. Which is pretty exciting; way to go, Christina Wodtke and the rest of the program committee! And a quick note of thanks to James McNally for reviewing our book in DigitalWeb magazine.…

Aug 27, 2002: Crass and Commercial   0 comments
Just a quick reminder that you can receive fresh Bloug entries via email if you subscribe to the BlougList Yahoo! group. BlougList is just one-way postings--no unsightly discussion traffic--and I only post my info-nutritious Bloug entries (as stated in The Bloug Guarantee), not the narcissistic hot-dogged ones (like this one). When you're done with the Bloug entry in your inbox, forward it on to a friend: reduce, reuse, recycle. Or you can use a service like SpyOnIt to receive an email notice everytime this page changes.…

Aug 25, 2002: My Wife the Experience Design Critic   7 comments
Happy 50th anniversary, Ernie and Arline Rosenfeld! Mom and Dad took two generations of progeny on a three night Disney cruise, from which Mary Jean and I just returned this evening. It was great to reconnect with the family, all of whom are out east, just a little too far from Ann Arbor. But the cruise itself was a bit weird. Sailing with The Mouse isn't for everyone, and presents an interesting study in experience design. I'll let Mary Jean take over Bloug for now and play ethnographer; here are her notes: Mary Jean Babic's Notes from a Disney Cruise The corporate product was ubiquitous. It began as soon as we got on the bus that took us from the Orlando airport to Port Canaveral. No fewer than twelve TVs hung from the ceiling of the bus, showing "Alice in Wonderland." (I must say I enjoyed the tea-party scene with the Mad Hatter, celebrating his unbirthday.) On the…

Aug 21, 2002: Reindeer, Runes and JASIS&T   0 comments
Laura Arlov and Henrik Wigestrand kindly interviewed me for ComputerWorld Norway. A longer version of the interview is available on the Norwegian Computer Society's web site. I like the way I sound in Norwegian, although for all I know they've rewritten it to have me confess to offing Nicole Simpson. Speaking of Norwegian, sometimes I find the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology as accessible as tracts on reindeer husbandry written by dyslexic Vikings whose remedial runic skills were just a bit rusty. OK, that's not fair, but much of JASIS&T is too mathematical for my pea-sized brain to comprehend. But Andrew Dillon has ridden to the rescue; he's edited a JASIS&T special issue on information architecture. Volume 53, Number 10 includes nine spankin' new pieces on IA, including an end piece by yours truly. It's available online to ASIS&T members, or you probably can find a copy at your local…

Aug 20, 2002: Information Architects in the Sticks   4 comments
The last Bloug entry generated some great reader discussion on whether or not to separate IA from general IT consulting. And, like everything else these days, the discussion brought me back to the enterprise information architecture (EIA) axe that I've been grinding of late. To refresh, you'd care about EIA if you are trying to develop a unified, logical information architecture for the entire organization and its users (e.g., a large corporate intranet portal). My ideal EIA model includes a centralized IA team that takes an entrepreneurial approach in providing highly specific and digestible IA services to autonomous business units who pay for those services. The model can be extended beyond IA to just about anything related to user experience. Part of the process of modeling an organization's EIA needs is to determine both what IA staffing resources you already have and analyze what the enterprise's current and future demand for IA services might be. Doing so exposes expertise gaps…

Aug 16, 2002: We Put the "I" in "IT"   10 comments
Last night I was talking with another information architect about the market for IA services. He works for an IT professional services firm that offers IA as part of its package. Unfortunately his company has fallen on hard times, and has experienced a few nasty bouts of downsizing. There've been plenty of theories on why the demand for IT has bottomed out these past two years. One of my favorites is that, after years of gobbling up as many technologies as they could grab, organizations are now in digestion mode. The eye was bigger than the stomach, and IT heartburn is forcing those organizations to think twice about acquiring more technology, concentrating instead on deriving actual value from past IT investments. IA services clearly add value to search engines, CMS, and other technologies. But that message often gets lost or muddled when delivered by IT salespeople. Not to mention that lately those salespeople are having a…

Aug 11, 2002: More on EIA, EUCD, EUX, etc.   0 comments
Speaking of enterprise-related stuff, Richard Anderson is teaching a seven-week workshop in northern California this September and October. The title is: Addressing Organizational Obstacles to, and Achieving (Greater) Business Benefits from, "User-Centered" Design, Ethnographic Research, Multidisciplinary Collaboration, Usability Engineering, Information Architecture, etc. Yow. That's 21 words, and the sub-title checks in at 39 words, but the material sounds quite interesting, touching on many of the enterprise UX issues we've been discussing recently on Bloug. If you're in the area, check it out.…

Aug 11, 2002: Fulfillment at Last   0 comments
I'm a better man now that I've checked out Odd Todd's laid-off cartoons. Thanks to Rich Klarman for the tip!…

Aug 9, 2002: This Week's Microsoft Gripe   13 comments
Is it just me, or is Microsoft Word unusable on a G3 Mac (iBook) running OS X (10.1.5) with 640Mb of memory? It often takes a few minutes to completely load, even without other apps open. Even closing a document can inflict the rolling beachball of death for a minute or two. I know that MS Word is synonomous with bloat, but is there some obvious setting problem that I've missed? Or is de-evolution simply the path that Word is taking? If anyone can point me to a document that can help me soup up, er, just plain get Word to the point that it's usable, I'd be grateful. Especially all of you who insisted that I move from a PC to a Mac. ;-)…

Aug 5, 2002: PB2 Niceties   0 comments
Peter Morville has put up a bunch of quotes from reviewers on his site's publications page. Note to self: grab them for LouisRosenfeld.com. But better than any quotes is Jesse James Garrett's movie poster.…

Jul 27, 2002: WebVisions Conference   0 comments
On August 16, Nick Finck and friends are putting on the WebVisions conference in Portland, Oregon. Jesse James Garrett and other interesting people will be speaking. If you're in the neighborhood, or just looking for an excuse to visit that wonderful town, check it out.…

Jul 25, 2002: Enterprise Information Architecture is Fun   4 comments
When Terry Swack asked me to present on information architecture for the enterprise at the AIGA Experience Design Summit a couple weeks ago, I was surprised. I didn't think the ED crowd would be particularly concerned with models for positioning IA-related services within the larger enterprise context, no matter how much I tried to couch it in ED terminology. Well, as Terry points out, I should listen to her more. The talk raised a surprising amount of good comments; clearly this is a topic of broader relevance. (Erin Malone wrote up a great summary of the event, including my talk, for Boxes and Arrows; thanks Erin!) And a few folks have emailed me to get a copy of the Powerpoint file. If you're interested, you can download both my AIGA-ED presentation, as well as the original, longer presentation given at the IA Summit in Baltimore last March, from my site's Presentations page. Of course, if you're really…

Jul 24, 2002: What are We Going to do Now?   9 comments
Michael Angeles is burning out and it's made me really upset. It's not just that I like Michael and don't enjoy seeing a good smart person hit the wall. And it's not that he's begun to find information architecture, my own bread and butter pursuit, boring. No, there's more to it than that: basically, I'm an intellectually lazy person, and Michael's ia slash has been covering my selfish ass for a while. Michael has been identifying, filtering, excerpting and occasionally commenting on the best stuff from the IA fire hose. He's done it on an almost daily basis for a year or two now. No one should be surprised that such a responsibility would eventually overwhelm anyone who has a job and a family and a life. So let's tip our hats to Michael, send him a note of gratitude, and hope he recharges at the Jersey Shore (though he should beware; I almost died there…

Jul 10, 2002: Some Batesian Inspiration   9 comments
The latest First Monday features a great piece by Marcia Bates, a faculty member at UCLA's Department of Information Studies. "After the Dot-Bomb: Getting Web Information Retrieval Right this Time" provides an excellent encapsulation of how the Web world has ignored information retrieval, why it had better start paying attention now that the money has dried up, and what should happen. Here's the abstract: In the excitement of the "dot-com" rush of the 1990's, many Web sites were developed that provided information retrieval capabilities poorly or sub-optimally. Suggestions are made for improvements in the design of Web information retrieval in seven areas. Classifications, ontologies, indexing vocabularies, statistical properties of databases (including the Bradford Distribution), and staff indexing support systems are all discussed. Abstracts are supposed to be descriptive, and don't delve into the opinions and emotions that drive what we write. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that Bates is more than a little…

Jul 9, 2002: Why no Blougage?   4 comments
Mary Jean and I just returned from three and a half weeks in Australia and New Zealand. Combination business trip (teaching at the Nielsen Norman Group's UX Conference) and belated "official" honeymoon. Ergo no blougage of late. A few observations: Teaching in Sydney. As we've done in the past, Margaret Hanley and I taught two days of seminars: IA I (the general survey) and IA II (advanced IA topics). Great group of students, and despite extreme jet lag, the classes seemed to go quite well. IA enlightenment aside, the most important thing that happened was the creation of at least two new mailing lists for information architects: one for Sydney (thanks to Eric Scheid), and one for Wellington, NZ (thanks to Alison Marshal; contact her to join the list). In a new field where no one can know everything, and where it's hard to find one's colleagues, these small local IA networks…

Jun 12, 2002: Crazy. Brilliant. Reasonable?   11 comments
Rick Starbuck, an interactive design specialist from Oakland, attended our information architecture seminars in San Francisco. Suitably inspired, he poses a very interesting search-related question: On a search results page, adding a blurb that says something like "the following documents also contained words you DID NOT search on. Select a word from the list to narrow your results." The feature would merely find the most common words (top five, top ten?) across the entire set of results, excluding the words originally searched for, and display them in a dropdown list or similar control. Do you know anyone who is doing this? Does it sound reasonable/crazy/brilliant? I don't know, maybe brilliant in a reasonably crazy way. It's definitely a neat idea. The problem is that in some cases, the most common words are not at all useful. For example, "education" would show up way too frequently in an education-related site. But there probably are situations where…

May 31, 2002: Damned Linear Medium   4 comments
The second edition of the polar bear book is now officially in production. Hallelujah! O'Reilly still tells us that July is a possibility, though my money is on August. Peter and I split the work straight down the middle. Yesterday we lunched at our one of favorite Ann Arbor restaurants, a Turkish place called Ayse's. Wondering how to decide who would be listed as "primary" author, we drafted Ayse to toss a coin for us. I won the flip, but for many being listed first would imply that I did more. Wrong-o. Let me go on record: this was truly an equal collaboration (although Peter gets extra points for a decade of putting up with me). It's too bad that one name has to be listed first. Feel free to refer to it as "Morville & Rosenfeld" as much as "Rosenfeld & Morville," if you refer to it at all. Now headed to San Francisco…

May 14, 2002: Documentation Jockeys and People in Black   8 comments
Three weeks ago I attended the first CHI2002/AIGA-ED (Experience Design) Forum. A mix of mostly visual designers and usability engineers (it was held in conjunction with CHI2002) wrangled with experience design, accentuating the positive through a collection of compelling case studies (kudos to Terry Swack and the other organizers). No religious wars broke out, at least not in public. A week ago I attended the Society for Technical Communication's 49th Annual Conference. STC is a huge professional association, sporting sizable SIGs in information design (3,200 members) and usability (2,500). Those two SIGs co-sponsored an impressive track that included such luminaries as Joann Hackos and Ginny Redish (kudos to organizer Whitney Quesenbery). I certainly didn't attend every session, but aside from my own panel, I don't think I heard a single speaker utter the phrase "experience design". (And I was definitely an outsider at STC.) This worries me. Don't technical communicators see themselves as experience designers? Have…

May 11, 2002: Promoting IA--Survey Results   24 comments
A few days back, I put out a brief survey to learn a little bit about whom we're trying to promote IA to, what gets in the way, and what might help us do a better job. The results are now available; feel free to peruse the detailed results. Many thanks to the 228 of you who provided feedback! The results in a nutshell: About 80% of you engage in IA at least half of your work time. 41% of you are in-house IAs, while 35% of you work for agencies or consulting firms. 67% of you are trying to promote IA to your co-workers, more than any other audience. Interestingly you find them the easiest audience to convince. Hardest audience? Your client's decision-makers, followed by the media, and then your own bosses. Hardest part of promoting IA? Timing: 27% don't get a chance until their projects are too deep into the design/development process. Next biggest challenge:…

May 9, 2002: Can Bloug do Good?   3 comments
This will be about the tenth spring that I participate in the Ann Arbor EcoRide to raise funds for our local ecology center. I've done very well hitting up friends and family for pledges, and have even led the fundraising field the past couple of years. This is the first time I've blogged the Ecoride. (Yes, if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm about to ask you to support this great cause.) It's really an experiment to see if people I've mostly never met would support a cause in a town that they've mostly never visited. Low probability perhaps, but then again, I've seen some pretty weird and incredible stuff happen in blogspace. So here goes. First, trust me: this is a great cause, and you can learn more about the Ecology Center here. Second, it's no fly-by-night operation; this is the event's 31st edition. Third, you'll be able to make…

May 9, 2002: Promoting IA   1 comment
We bitch a lot about how no one values information architects and the work we do. But have we ever asked ourselves what it might take to change that impression? That would seem the first step toward figuring out how to market ourselves more effectively. Hence, I've put together this very brief (six-question) survey. Would you mind filling it out before Saturday May 11? It should take less than five minutes. I'll share the results later this month. Thanks!…

Apr 23, 2002: V-IA Day?   4 comments
I heard Alan Cooper give a brief talk Sunday at the CHI2002/AIGA-ED Forum here in Minneapolis. The theme of his talk was "we have won" ("we" can be interpreted in many ways obviously, from interaction designers specifically to experience designers in general). Alan confessed that it's hard to truly know that we've won anything, as today looks a lot like yesterday. But his main point is that declaring victory is something that can really be done at any time. Your situation hasn't necessarily changed, but your attitude certainly can. And if it does, so will the attitude that others have about you and your work. Flaunting victory can help change your concept from something that would be nice to have to something that people must have. Perhaps we information architects should declare victory? As we know from polling studies, everyone loves a winner. Should we make a claim that we've won? The rapid growth of the…

Apr 19, 2002: Attention all Kiwis   9 comments
Well, first I should thank everyone who provided advice on traveling in Australia. But Mary Jean and I have wrangled our flights so that we can spend most of our time (about two weeks) in New Zealand. So... any suggestions on how to spend our "official" honeymoon in New Zealand in late June/early July? Hiking, snorkeling, general sight seeing, maybe a little skiing, cafe hopping and meeting locals are all on the wish list. Thanks for the help!…

Apr 17, 2002: Happy Birthday SIGIA-L!   6 comments
At the first IA Summit back in March of 2000, we put out the call for someone to create a discussion list for information architects. Shortly thereafter, ASIS&T stepped up to the plate, and SIGIA-L was born. The first brave posting, from Angela Picard, helped set a positive tone: she contributed some useful content for the benefit of her peers. Two years, 1,918 subscribers, and 8,033 deposits and withdrawals from the Bank of Karma later, SIGIA-L keeps jammin' away, a supportive and surprisingly multi-disciplinary community. Well, hold on a second: is SIGIA-L really a community? That's up for debate. What exactly is it that distinguishes a community from a group of people talking about topics of mutual interest? Fodder for a future discussion. Community or not, SIGIA-L is active and is growing. During 2000, we averaged 180 postings/month; in 2001, the number jumped to 389; this year, 581. The list's posting rates started out…

Apr 14, 2002: You Heard it Here First   5 comments
We're starting to see "findability" promoted as the goal of information architecture. So let me throw out this sub-meme and see if it sticks: findability engineer.…

Apr 12, 2002: Web Site Analysis Tools   1 comment
A friend asks: Lou, do you suggest any Web site analysis tools, such as Watchfire, for folks who are a) embarking on a new site building exercise and/or b) trying to analyze the competition? I'm a fan of WebCriteria, but frankly I haven't given it much thought. But it's an interesting topic; anyone have some suggestions? Of course, I'm still looking for Macintosh advice...…

Apr 12, 2002: Microsoft Rant #192,106   24 comments
Can I just say how much I hate Microsoft at this precise moment? It won't bother you, will it? Unbelievable. I'm on the phone right now with MS Tech Support. Who have politely just explained to me that you can *not* import email from Outlook (or even Outlook Express) on a PC to Entourage or Outlook Express on a Mac. Apparently it's something to do with very complicated database format differences between the two platforms. Even though this apparently doesn't stop all other MS Office applications from being interoperable. So I'm stuck with the prospect of exporting, one by one, my hundreds of mail folders in Outlook on my Dell up to my POP server and back down again to Entourage on the Mac. Yep. Just how I want to spend my next week. And just for yucks, we're trying to figure out how to import simpler things (simpler than email?) from Outlook to Entourage, like…

Apr 9, 2002: Google, the Information Explosion, and ROT   13 comments
Will Google scale? Assume that web content is doubling at some insanely fast rate—five years, five months—you pick your favorite number. Given this volume, how can Google's popularity-based ranking algorithm keep up? Sure, Google will know about most new content through spidering. But that doesn't mean you and I will know about that new content. After all, as it's new and won't have inter-site links to it yet, Google will retrieve the new content but rank it so low that most of us will never find it. And because we don't know it's there, we'll never link to it. Vicious cycle. Therefore it seems that existing links will increase in value over time. In other words, the "cost" of obtaining a link in 2002 will be much less than achieving the same link in 2007. If this is the case, Google retrievals will be prejudiced to rank older content with more established link networks than newer…

Apr 2, 2002: @ 3 Weeks in Australia   7 comments
After the NN/g seminars are done, Mary Jean and I will take our belated honeymoon in Australia. We'd thought about spending most of the time in New Zealand, but it seems that it will just be too cold in late June/early July, so maybe we'll save that trip for our tenth anniversary. We'll spend most of the first week in Sydney, where the seminars take place. But then what? So my question: if you had about 18 days to kill in Australia that time of year, split roughly 50-50 between city and country, what would you do? What do we like? The regular stuff I guess; cities (good food, galleries, concerts, museums, cafes), countryside (especially memorable vistas; road trips are right up our alley), outdoor activities (day hikes, wine tasting, snorkeling, maybe a couple days of skiing, naked bungee jumping, dwarf tossing), meeting locals. We don't like touristy places and crowds, souvenirs, Hard Rock Cafes, and long lines. I'm…

Apr 1, 2002: Learn Good Stuff   0 comments
As you're planning your spring conference spending, here are a few suggestions: Steve Krug is doing his day-long thing on Tuesday April 9 in Cambridge, MA. You know Steve from Don't Make Me Think and his keynote at last month's IA Summit. He's promised me a cool T-shirt in return for this ploug. Actually, I'd just prefer to attend, but I'll be staying home, holed up with a manuscript. The good folks at Adaptive Path are starting their series of three-day deals in Chicago in late May, swirling around the union and finally landing back home in San Francisco in October. Besides the usual suspects (Peter Merholz, Lane Becker, and Jeff Veen), a variety of interesting guests are on board: Marc Rettig, Paula Thornton, Thom Haller, Bill Curtis, and Bob Slote. Finally, a plug for the Nielsen Norman Group's User Experience 2001-2002 Conference, which includes two days of IA sessions taught by Margaret Hanley and me. June…

Mar 29, 2002: CHI2002 Annual Conference   0 comments
Going to Minneapolis next month? A bunch of us information architects will be hanging out Wednesday night (4/27) at a swanky pub to be determined by local luminary Lyle Kantrovich. Please join us: RSVP at Evite, where you'll also find the when and where. Also be sure to join us for what will be an historic event: the first joint CHI/AIGA-ED Forum (4/21-22). Anytime you get two separate groups of professionals to play nice together is impressive; even more so is the lineup of case studies, panels and speakers. Of course, it's questionable that these are two separate groups--we're all experience designers, right? But that's another discussion... Hope to see you in Minneapolis!…

Mar 26, 2002: Search System Trick #71   11 comments
Here's an interesting idea: for each search result, show other searches that have retrieved this particular document. (Obviously, these other searches would have to be displayed on a separate page linked from the result itself.) So instead of "find other documents like this," we'd "find how others found this document." Do you think it would be useful to see how other people found what you found? You could then actually execute one or more of their searches to see if it did a better job than your own search. Has anyone seen anything like this before? If this is a brilliant new idea, all credit goes to Caleb Rutan of TechStreet.…

Mar 25, 2002: Misty Mountain   1 comment
Saw Lord of the Rings yesterday. It was great; now I finally understand what all those Led Zep songs are about.…

Mar 23, 2002: Pushless IA?   13 comments
Spent the day yesterday giving a basic IA talk (about 3Mb if you want to grab it) and otherwise hobnobbing at Michigan State University. During the afternoon discussion, I got up on my soapbox and yammered on about the need for MSU to incorporate email-based notification systems into their web site's information architecture. So, for example, a prospective student could elect to be informed of deadlines associated with her application. Or an alum could be reminded that season tickets for football go on sale in one week, and that donations need to be sent by December 15 to ensure a deduction for the current tax year. And so on. It's fairly cheap and easy to do this, and just seems plain obvious. I've found myself on this same soapbox quite frequently, and, like the good folks at MSU, people nod their heads, smile politely, and then move on to the next topic. As we all know, exactly 96.7% of…

Mar 21, 2002: Random Comments on the 3rd IA Summit   2 comments
The IA Summit, held in Baltimore last weekend, was a smashing success (I can't believe we've done three already!). For the first of what will likely be many trip reports, here's one from Eric Morgan. For an old fart like me it was an exhausting weekend, wanting to attend sessions, catch up with everyone, and simply not having enough time. My overwhelm-ment was further frustrated by the multi-tracking of sessions, a first for the Summit and a necessity if the program is going to keep up with the field's growth without expanding into a week-long extravaganza. None of the sessions I attended was weak or even mediocre, but the highlight for me was Matt Jones' discussion of BBC's intelligent approach to enterprise-wide search. Not only is the work brilliant, but so is Matt's style of presentation. Even perusing his slides without the physical comedy and wisecracks will be worthwhile; keep an eye on his blog and I'm sure…

Mar 14, 2002: Silly IA Optimism   2 comments
Just got off the phone with usability poobah Steve Krug, keynoter for this weekend's IA Summit. Our agenda was ostensibly to give Steve a sense of what to expect from all of the goofy information architects he'll be meeting this weekend. Steve was making the point of how information architects are prone to the same economic hardships as usability folk. The recession hits and suddenly we're all an expensive luxury. The line item for outside consultants is especially easy to squash (and don't I know it!). Steve's subdued assessment seems all too accurate at the moment. But it doesn't feel entirely right to me. Yes, I'm a natural optimist, but I think I may have some reason here. There are more and more information systems every day, holding more content, serving more users. I'm probably wrong, but I think it would be safe to reason that, despite this growth, the set of usability and interaction…

Mar 14, 2002: B&A Goes Live   2 comments
Boxes and Arrows is finally here! Shows what happens when you combine a few information architects with a lotta inspiration. Great work which I hope we can emulate on the info-arch.org projects. Really, if you don't go read B&A immediately, I will pump a hot slug into this cute lil' Yorkie pronto, no questions asked: Or, if you're really pissing me off, I'll jam your face into my bare armpit and give you a big fat noogie: You'd really like that, wouldn't you. Sicko.…

Mar 6, 2002: Taxonomies and Berrypicking   6 comments
If you heard Microsoft's Vivian Bliss speak at IA2000 in La Jolla, you know that she and her team are at the cutting edge of intranet information architecture. Peter and I thought so, and profiled the work of Vivian, Alex Wade, and colleagues in our upcoming book. But you can get a sample of their taxonomy-driven approach from "Building Taxonomies," their instructive chapter in the just published Unlocking Knowledge Assets, (Susan Conway and Char Siglar, Microsoft Press, 2002). The chapter is available via the Web and is well worth the time. Speaking of good reads, I've mentioned Marcia Bates' work here in Bloug before. Her accessible and highly influential "The Design of Browsing and Berrypicking Techniques for the Online Search Interface" is finally available on the Web. Every information architect and anyone who is interested in how people navigate through information should read this paper, which perhaps has more relevance today than when it originally appeared…

Feb 28, 2002: The End is Near   2 comments
0.79 chapters to go! Much as I absolutely despise devoting all my waking hours and most of my normally sleeping hours to writing, I'm almost feeling good right now. Maybe the prospect of having a life again has something to do with it. If all goes as planned, the second edition goes into tech review at around the same time as the IA Summit. And after the tech review shredding, manuscript and self-esteem reassembling, and production, the second edition of the polar bear book should hit the stands in July. Like many authors, we were a bit too ambitious, even though we've been through this before and should have known better. But the second edition will really be a new book: much, much more material, and what we retained from the first edition is significantly revised and updated. As far as quality, we hope you'll be the judge of that. In the meantime, if you're at the…

Feb 20, 2002: Back from Boca   26 comments
Although it wasn't exactly beach weather, it was great to visit mom and dad (hi folks!) in Florida this past week. Now to the home stretch for our book manuscript. February 28 looms way too large. In the meantime, a few little things: Recommend a new laptop for Lou. It's time to retire my Dell Inspiron 3500. It's been a great workhorse, but it's quite heavy and scoliosis sounds way too much like halitosis. The replacement would be used for travel, work, home, everythang. I'm looking for something that's light (< 5 lbs.) *and* durable (does that eliminate the Sony Vaio?). 14" monitor is plenty. And with a DVD for long flights. What do you recommend? A couple of CM pitches. If you don't already know about CMSWatch, you no longer have an excuse. And while we're at it, go hear brainy Bob Boiko keynote at ASIS&T's Content Management Symposium this June in Chicago. Or submit your own talk. Michael Angeles for…

Feb 13, 2002: Pain and Books   6 comments
Great pain. I just wrote a highly entertaining entry explaining why Bloug will be fairly quiet for the rest of the month (polar bear book's second edition manuscript is due 2/28). And I had a beautiful segue into explaining why you should go out and buy these two really great science books, along with succinct reviews studded with all sorts of hip scientific references: Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris Fallout by Jim Ottaviani Then a system crash. Now my wonderful Bloug copy is gone gone gone. Argh. So I'll leave you with this much condensed entry instead. Happy February.…

Feb 7, 2002: The Value of "Pay-For-Performance Search"   10 comments
In the last Bloug entry, my pal Scott Brylow brought up an interesting point about overture.com, the site formerly known as goto.com. Overture is up front about its business model, namely, charging clients for placement in search results. In a nutshell, the client that bids the highest gets listed most prominently. My background is in information science and librarianship, so naturally such blatantly commercial approaches make me break out in hives. Do users really benefit when their queries retrieve the sites with the greatest financial backing, rather than the ones that are most relevant? But Scott claims it's working, and that overture.com has been able to attract investment in these post-bubble days. (I typically believe whatever Scott tells me.) So what's behind overture.com's success? If any of you are overture.com fans, please tell me why (and I ask purely out of respectful curiosity, not because I think you're a nutcase). Even if you're not an overture.com user,…

Jan 31, 2002: Yahoo! Joins the Ranks of the Living Dead   15 comments
In SFGate, Hal Plotkin writes: In a regrettable move, Internet pioneer Yahoo! recently joined competitors such as MSN.com, LookSmart and AltaVista in seeking payments from Web sites that want to be included in their online directories. Regrettable because, as Plotkin points out, there remains only one major search or directory service (Google) that hasn't yet succumbed to payola. All the others, including Yahoo!, now seamlessly mix editorial content with paid advertising. Very sad that it's come to this. Why did I prefix this posting with a hot dog icon, my warning to readers of impending narcissism? So I could point you to an article I wrote in the summer of 1995 called The Untimely Death of Yahoo. I predicted that Yahoo! would succumb to scaling problems that would eventually render its searching and browsing capabilities pretty near useless. In fact, I'd argue that if those are a measure of Yahoo!'s mortality, then the service actually died a few…

Jan 28, 2002: The ROI of Information Architecture   15 comments
Thank to everyone who discussed the value of information architecture this past week; awesome! In under a week, we're already up to 17 comments. #17 comes from somewhere up in the remotest part of northern England. That's where Paul Nattress (I admit, I love that name), like many of us, wonders if all this information architecture goodness can be converted into actual numbers (as in dollars, euros, shekels): Lou - can we have a resource of arguments in favour of spending money on IA please?! Ask and ye shall receive. The ROI of information architecture; is there really such a thing? Certainly it would make our lives much easier. But can you really measure the value of information architecture? Keith Instone and I moderated "Measuring Information Architecture" at last year's SIGCHI, and we tried to harangue our panelists into an answer. They responded admirably, and I recommend you have a look at their brief Powerpoint presentations. Better yet, if…

Jan 25, 2002: In Information Architecture We Trust... NOT!   6 comments
Ron Scheer has a short and interesting review of two studies that examine broad, shallow hierarchies versus narrow, deep ones. Ron's interpretation fits what we've been hearing for a while now: Both studies support a growing belief that breadth beats depth. What they don't show is what kind of breadth is best. That last sentence is just jam-packed with endless possibilities. My hunch is that there is at least one major and somewhat unexplored factor that might offer a clue to which kind of breadth is best: information need (i.e., are users performing known-item searches, exploratory searches). But I'm not going any further down this path; too complicated, too messy. Besides, I'm not sure that anyone really has the data to definitively prove one thing or another at this point. Instead I'm going to veer off into one of my favorite conspiracy theories.* It goes like this: users prefer shallower, broader hierarchies. This is not…

Jan 22, 2002: What Good is Information Architecture Anyway?   20 comments
What's the canon of information architecture goodness? Put another way: when you try to make the case for IA, what are your bullet points? Here's a stab at a list; please add more in your comments: Reduces the cost of finding information Reduces the cost of finding wrong information Reduces the cost of not finding information at all Provides a competitive advantage Results in increased sales Improves brand loyalty Reduces reliance upon documentation Reduces maintenance costs Reduces training costs Reduces staff turnover Reduces organizational upheaval Reduces organizational politicking Improves knowledge sharing Reduces duplication of effort Solidifies business strategy…

Jan 18, 2002: Top Level Tiff   14 comments
Everyone should know by now that there are new top-level domains abounding. Some, such as .biz, .info, and .name, are operational; others, such as .aero, .pro (for certified professionals), and .coop (for chickens) are being considered. These have been devised to address the growing demand for domains, much like new area codes help solve scaling problems for the telephone numbering system. But like area codes, the scheme is klugey, patchy and probably quite confusing for most. Granted, it's difficult to graft new terms onto an established and recognized set (e.g., .com, .gov, .mil). But what exactly should be the difference between www.nakedbungeejumping.com and www.nakedbungeejumping.biz? Confused? You'll just go to the InterNIC for the official definitions, right? And when you're done, don't forget to talk to me about this bridge I'm trying to sell... These suffixes are practically synonymous. And as the current classification scheme is already muddled, it's certain that the new suffixes will further muddy…

Jan 15, 2002: The Yin and Yang of Online Community IA   11 comments
One of the case studies in the new edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web will cover an online community's information architecture. Because so many of these communities live and die by discussion (via mailing lists, newsgroups, etc.), it's impossible not to consider discussion venues a part of the community's information architecture. So any discussion of online community IA shouldn't be limited to web sites. Each online community has a yin (ephemeral discussion) and a yang (static content--ranging from FAQs to articles--that the community stores on a web site). And each community typically starts with one or the other, though in my experience a community will ultimately accrue both. Is my assumption correct? Can a community thrive with just discussion lists or static content? Or is there a particular threshold in an online community's lifespan where its is forced to add the yin to its existing yang?…

Jan 5, 2002: Go Team   0 comments
Just posted this to SIGIA-L; please excuse the duplication: Subject: perpetual hopeful push for progress Hi all, happy new year and all that. Now that it's 2002, can I make a corny request? If you're like me, you've already made the standard new year's resolutions, like flossing more regularly, laying off the formaldehyde, not frightening the neighborhood kids quite so much, and not burying strange things in the root cellar at odd hours of the night. But how about making a resolution to help build the information architecture community and, I dare say, the profession? There are already many great projects underway, many listed at www.info-arch.org/infrastructure/. Some well underway, some stumbling along, some just a gleam in your eye. And all opportunities to do ourselves good. (See progress reports at www.info-arch.org/progress/.) What if we could look back on 2002 as the year we got our shit together? The year we built the most kick-ass mailing list archive the world has ever…

Jan 3, 2002: Disposable Information Architecture   12 comments
A couple of Blougs ago, I mentioned the term "disposable information architecture". I think it sounds kind of cool; who knows, maybe it'll catch on and become a meme? Hah! Just did! Anyway, an example of disposable IA would probably be appreciated. Let's say you're designing the information architecture for a blog. You plan on implementing a search system for your blog entries at some point, but don't have the time just yet. So you decide to set up a browsable index page to serve as the site's archive. Because you don't have that many blog entries yet, it doesn't really make much sense to create something elaborate. Probably not many of your blog's readers will bother using the archive anyway. Or maybe you don't have the time or money to throw at it. After all, it's just a blog! So you create a fairly simple-minded archive page that you know won't scale forever. It's…

Jan 3, 2002: In Search Of...   4 comments
...a really, really useful tech support site (or subsite). One that actually has an information architecture that helps you find the answers you need (not to mention the content to back those answers up). Please send me 1) a URL and 2) just a few words on what makes this site so good. Or just comment below. The "winner" gets a signed polar bear book. And by the way everyone: Happy New Year! Thank goodness 2001 is fini.…

Dec 21, 2001: Better than Caffeine   5 comments
Up at 5:30am today to get some writing done. Not my favorite time to be doing what's not my favorite activity. Anyway, we've been adopted by a cat these past couple months. Schwa stays with us about a third of the time, two- or three-timing us with other families, we suspect. Long enough for me to obtain my first experience cohabiting with a cat. So I came downstairs to find Schwa staring at the base of the refrigerator. I started staring too. After a few patient minutes, we'd flushed out a mouse who made a break for the front hall, where reside all those big, heavy boots we rely on here in Michigan during our seven-month winters. Scwha cornered the poor thing, I grabbed a boot, whack! whack!, and it was all over. Sorry Mickey, but it was quick and I hope relatively painless. So now I'm fully awake and alive, pumped full of adrenalin, my…

Dec 20, 2001: "Identity arises through self-reference."   1 comment
Lately, I've been up to my ears in "community building," mostly (but not completely) through Info-Arch.Org. It's been quite a humbling experience. I didn't dive in with many preconceptions or expectations, so frankly I'm surprised by how pronounced my ignorance is. I'd been hoping to encounter some deep new store of wisdom somewhere at the intersection of Community Building Boulevard and Information Architecture Alley. Maybe it'd be something that we could apply for the IA community as we plunge ahead with developing a shared library, wiki-ing, coming up with a site network, and souping up the SIGIA-L mailing list archive (among other activities). Or maybe case study fodder for the second edition of the "polar bear book". No such luck; designing information architectures for online communities might be even trickier than it is for Fortune 50 intranets. I'd hoped to find some incredible example that would serve as a model, but I'm still looking; let me know…

Dec 20, 2001: still wondering   5 comments
The mystery of not capitalizing continues. Here is some coverage in yesterday's edition of The Onion: Art Major To Stop Capitalizing Name COLUMBUS, OHMichael Wechsler, 19, an Ohio State University art major, announced Monday that he is changing his name to "michael wechsler." "Isn't that so much cooler?" Wechsler said to fellow art major Ethan Reed. "The whole capital-letter thing has always bothered me. It's just a stupid rule that everyone else seems to think they have to follow." Wechsler is also considering changing the spelling of his first name to "mychal."…

Dec 18, 2001: What Exactly Are IA Components?   13 comments
I guess that if I'm going to prattle on about how to select information architecture components, as I did in my last posting, then I should probably spend a little time describing what exactly they are. An IA component is any part of an information system (e.g., a web site) that gets users to content. Navigation bars, site maps, link labels, query languages, all are components of an information architecture. In the "polar bear" book, Peter Morville and I broke them into four broad categories: Organization Systems: How we categorize information (e.g., by subject, chronology). Labeling Systems: What we call information (e.g., scientific terminology ("Acer") or lay terminology ("maple")). Navigation Systems: How we browse through information (e.g., clicking through a hierarchy). Search Systems: How we search information (e.g., executing a search query against an index). Like any categorization scheme, this one has its problems. Many have a hard time distinguishing "organization" from "labeling" (hint: you organize content into groups, and then…

Dec 16, 2001: Selecting IA Components   7 comments
Here's a longish post that starts with a statement from the Department of Dangerous Oversimplification: information architecture is basically a two-part exercise.First choose the most useful tools and techniques (e.g., card sorting, contextual inquiry) to learn about users' information needs, the characteristics of content, and organizational context and constraints. With that knowledge in hand, design an information architecture using the subset of all possible architectural components (e.g., site index, search engine) that will provide high value to users while minimizing development and maintenance costs. Let's focus on step #2 here; once we do know something about our site's users, content, and context, how exactly do we make our component choices? I've struggled with this issue for years, alternating between trying to prod my unscientific mind into a systems approach, and, after throwing my hands up in disgust, just selecting the components that "felt right". My current belief lies, not surprisingly, somewhere in the middle: it's good to utilize some systematic…

Dec 12, 2001: Living Movable Typenicolor   2 comments
Yee-hah! It's finally about to happen. In the next day or so, Bloug will move to Movable Type. Permalinks, comments, swimmin' pools, movie stars... Anything to keep certain people from griping. Anyway, if you're experiencing technical difficulties, this might have something to do with it...…

Dec 11, 2001: Dreaming of Links   1 comment
This actually came to me in a dream. I was sitting in my childhood home in Katonah, New York, talking with none other than Peter Merholz and Jesse James Garrett (don't worry guys, you are definitely not regulars in my dreams). I don't remember why we were there or what we were discussing, but this came to me: The humble hyperlink is really quite a useful string of text. It's not unlike a user's search query. In fact, it often stands in for a user's query. And, if I can use the term loosely, it's a form of author-supplied indexing. At the same time! And authors are much happier to create links within their content than to index them the old fashioned way. Meaning there are lots of rich links out there that we might take advantage of. So, a hyperlink is both: a form of indexing, as determined by content authors; and a query, when selected by a…

Dec 4, 2001: i wonder   2 comments
i don't know what it is, but i've finally come to the point where i just have to know: what is it with typing email (or even blog entries) all in lower case? were certain people sick the day the teacher taught the class how to capitalize? or is there a virus attacking the shift and caps lock on keyboards across the world? and hey, the shift key couldn't really be broken, as so many of these folks end their sentences with question marks... any theories out there? i don't know... maybe they're sort of related to those of us who overuse ellipses... or who absolutely have to end every one of their digital communications with a silly little sign off phrase or word, like "have a nice day," "peace," or "l'chaim"... cheers…

Dec 1, 2001: Damning Metadata   2 comments
I can't remember which IA blog pointed me to Doug Kaye's blog, but I found his frustration with metadata to be... well, frustrating. I'll get into why in just a moment, but first, it's interesting to note a bit of an anti-metadata backlash of late. The pendulum swings away: back in the mid-90s (boy, does it feel strange to say that!), Argus would try to sell clients on the value of developing controlled vocabularies and thesauri. We often heard this response: "Nope, we have this great new search engine, and it will solve all of our users' information problems. No need to ever manually 'touch' our content." Just like that. End of discussion. During the past year or two, a wave of painful realization swept these same folks. The search engine snake oil had dissolved, leaving a residue of poor performance and general dyspepsia. Now, finally believing that "Taxonomies are Chic", they were…

Nov 24, 2001: IA Summit III   0 comments
The intrepid Summit program committee (Andy Dillon, Dick Hill, Gary Marchionini, George Olsen, Vic Rosenberg, Christina Wodtke, and yours truly) has issued a Call for Participation. Please consider submitting your finest IA-related ideas, techniques, widgets, and other assorted brilliance. The Summit takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, USA from March 15-17, 2002. Never been to Baltimore? Very close to Washington DC (they share an airport), great seafood, pretty good Italian food, and spring has usually sprung by middle-March. Besides, many of the fine people you know from SIGIA-L will be there in person.…

Nov 14, 2001: What the Bloody Hell?   0 comments
You know, just about every blog author links to his Amazon wish list, as if people really cared enough to purchase them a gift. What the bloody hell, why not me? After all, I certainly have had plenty of reasons to receive gifts, both celebratory and sympathetic. I had a tough year. I almost died a few times. I've incurred all sorts of good will lately. I got married. Don't any of those make me deserving of generosity from strangers? But no siree, you don't see me pulling this self-centered crap. Nope, I'm just too decent and anti-narcissistic to expect you to care about what I want. That's good old Lou, always worrying about other people, never considering his own needs... Sap.…

Nov 11, 2001: Wishful Thinking   0 comments
With a little help from my friends, I've set up a new blog which I hope will help get some discussion going about the sorts of things we IAs could and should start doing as a community. By "things" I mean developing community infrastructure for the field, ranging from tackling IA educational certification to developing a job board to starting up a professional association. I've seeded the blog with a number of ideas and hope others will add to the list, comment on what's there, argue, and so on. And that maybe, just maybe, some folks might find each other through this blog and start working together on some of these projects. OK, OK, I'm probably being over-optimistic. But, after all, I was born in the '60s. And there's no harm in dreaming...…

Nov 9, 2001: BBC Heaven   1 comment
Matt Jones and a number of colleagues were kind enough to host Jeff Veen, Margaret Hanley, and me the day before relaunching the BBC site. Incredibly generous of them, considering the timing. And a surprisingly relaxed group, considering the timing. Matt talks so rapidly and intensely that you might wonder if he's managed to become unstuck in time, suddenly freed from the forces of nature to move at five or six times normal human cruising speed. His non-Newtonian nature allowed him to cram an incredible number of really cool IA ideas into a 25 minute presentation, many of which will eventually make it into future versions of the BBC's site. This latest version includes a universal navigation bar at the top of every page, no mean feat considering the size and distributed management of the BBC's web environment. It also provides another example of one of my favorite IA tricks, manually generated "best bet" search results (although BBC…

Oct 29, 2001: Some Notes   0 comments
I'm headed for London for the next batch of IA tutorials at the Nielsen Norman Group conference and would love to meet some local IAs. I'm planning an informal get together Friday night 11/2 and hope you'll consider popping by. Send me a note and let me know if you'd like to hook up. Unfortunately, NN/g conflicts with the ASIS&T Annual Meeting, which, if you don't happen to be in London, you should attend instead. My longtime co-conspirator Peter Morville has started up Semantic Studios. You would be veritably insane not to bookmark his site immediately. And yes, Movable Type and RSS syndication are on the way. Got to nag my pals at Studio Mobius for some help. Until then, consider joining the blougList to keep up to date on my ramblings and shenanigans.…

Oct 25, 2001: Optimism and Warnings   0 comments
Just back today from Washington DC, where Margaret Hanley and I co-taught two days of information architecture tutorials at the Nielsen Norman Group conference. The attendees were bright, the discussion brilliant, and we all laughed a lot. In fact, I actually detected a hint of optimism in the air. Optimism? Hard to believe after the year we've all had. But even post-9/11, there seems to be something of a rebound underway in the demand for information architecture. Sure, this is a hunch, but my IA hunches are usually pretty good. And in this case, my hunch is based on both personal experience and what I'm hearing from others. What's changed? Here's my oversimplified explanation: until roughly one year ago, information architects were often being hired for the wrong reasons. Just like everyone else in the web design biz. Companies were moving too fast, talent was hard to come by, and employers/customers weren't very good at discerning…

Oct 14, 2001: More Diagrams from Jess and Me   0 comments
Jess McMullin and I have taken one last pass at our diagram of how we see the various flavors of "post-Web information system design" (such as information architecture) and how they relate to established fields like merchandising and data modeling. Click on the thumbnail below to get the full image: Of course we felt that we couldn't cram enough into the diagram, so we came up with another: Here we're using the old "blind men and the elephant" to make the point that all of our new fields are just limited views of the same big and unruly animal. Whether we're in knowledge management, CRM, or interaction design, we're all looking to synthesize existing fields' tools, techniques, and experiences into something new, with its own methodology and perspective, to design increasingly complex information systems.…

Oct 13, 2001: Wedded Bliss   0 comments
Today Mary Jean and I are celebrating our one-week anniversary. I could go on and on about how in love we are, how incredibly lucky I am, how the sun came out just for the duration of our ceremony, how much we're enjoying opening wedding gifts, how we're coming up with innovative uses for packing peanuts... But I'll spare you the details and just leave you with this image: Many thanks to Rich Wiggins for his photographic artistry, and to Hanan Cohen for futzing with the image file to get it down to a reasonable size. And no, that's not a tux.…

Oct 2, 2001: IKEA, Borders, and Information Architecture   0 comments
Former Argonaut Kat Hagedorn pointed me to a short piece of hers: "Ramblings: The IA of IKEA Stores". Kat notes that the two IKEA stores she's visited consistently support two types of shopping experience: known-item ("I know what I'm looking for") and open-ended ("I'm not sure what I'm looking for"). Different parts of the store are arranged to support these two types of information (or, in this case, furniture) needs. I've never been to an IKEA, but I'm impressed nonetheless: creating a multi-dimensional information space in the measly three dimensions the universe provides us is a lot harder than doing so in the N-dimensional world of the Web. Besides needing a bigger brain, you also need more floor space than your competitors, which drives up your expenses quite a bit. I assume that IKEA has been able to justify its well-reasoned (though expensive) architecture by pointing to increased profitability. If that's the case,…

Oct 1, 2001: Need an ISP/Smarter Search/Marc Rettig   0 comments
Bloug Needs an ISP I've been asked by more than a few Blougies: "Why no permalinks? Why no RSS?" My stock answer: "Not until I get GreyMatter installed (yes, I'm still rolling my own HTML). And no GreyMatter until I find a professional and reasonably-priced ISP to host it." Unfortunately, I'm not sufficiently technical to evaluate ISPs or install GreyMatter myself. So it occurred to me today that perhaps a reputable ISP exists that already has GreyMatter up and running. Do you know of one, and would you recommend it? Or have other advice? I could really use the help. My undying love and gratitude (and a signed polar bear book) to the successful matchmaker. Even More on Smarter Search Paul Kahn kicked Teoma's tires. And it was Good. There are lots of Paul Kahns out there, and, like Google, Teoma's search results mixes them all up. But Paul found the clustered results…

Sep 26, 2001: Status Report to Field Operatives   0 comments
To my fellow operatives and other agents of the greater cause, I bring you especially good tidings: Phase 6 of our plan is now successfully concluded, and the cause of world domination by the forces of the LIS Directorate is one step closer to completion. Objective: Target P (completed) As you know, the primary goal of Phase 6 was the full neutralization of the influential, if thorny, Target P. Just a year ago, Target P was inveighing against the "tyranny of hierarchy". But through our insidious methods, including liberal doses of chlorophyll, Britney Spears, and a full meme transplant, Target P has now been reduced to a blindly devoted believer, mouthing our mantras and preaching the good word of structure, organization, and, most recently, faceted classification. Local Bay Area operatives have even spotted him buffing off his nail polish and seeking sensible shoes.   Target P... ...is now one of us! Future Objectives: Targets N, V, T So rejoice, but only briefly, comrades:…

Sep 24, 2001: More on Smarter Search Results   0 comments
Greetings from deep in the heart of Texas, where I'm giving a talk tonight at UT and enjoying the fine facilities and hospitality of the LIS program's computer lab. In my last entry I discussed the nice job that HP's information architects did with integrating manually-derived results with automated search results. A couple of you wrote in to comment on this approach. Matt "blackbelt" Jones was "excited and encouraged... for reasons that will become clear in a couple of months". Reasons which he did not not expound upon. But which I will be vigorously nagging him for until he coughs them up. Don't play with us Matt... Matt also pointed me to a CHI presentation by Microsoft's Susan Dumais, Edward Cutrell and UC Berkeley's Hao Chen: "Optimizing Search by Showing Results In Context". In a nutshell: "Our user studies show that all Category interfaces were more effective than List interfaces even when lists were augmented with…

Sep 13, 2001: New HP Wetware Product leads to Smarter Search   0 comments
Avi Rappoport, of SearchTools.com fame, points me to a nice little piece of information architecture that may be the harbinger of what would be a very welcome trend. Go to the Hewlett-Packard site and type "handheld" in the search box (the image below shows the results): What's the big deal? Well, check out the three items above the results (to the right of the binoculars icon). These aren't the product of some programming brilliance that mere mortals can never hope to understand or duplicate. Nope, they were put there manually. In other words, by some human person. The folks at HP know that automatically-generated search results have great value, but at least for popular searches, manually-generated results may have even greater value. So they took the trouble to implement a "best bets" approach which, though technically fairly trivial, obviously requires them to know something about what their users are want. (In this case, probably not a document describing…

Sep 11, 2001: What You Can Do to Help   0 comments
If you can, please consider a blood donation; here's the link to the American Red Cross.…

Sep 6, 2001: Odds and Ends   0 comments
Where have I been of late? Well, it may seem all quiet on the Ann Arbor front, but I'm working hard. Rabble-rousing about the future of IA on the SIGIA-L mailing list. Prepping for my tutorials at the NN/g world tour. Writing (yes, really) chapters for the second edition of the polar bear book. And working on last minute details for Mary Jean's and my wedding, which is a scant one month from today. So back off man! In the meantime, some miscellany: Remember that "berry-picking" paper by Marcia Bates that I suggested that all IAs read? I contacted Professor Bates to see if a copy was available via the Web. No luck, but she did point me to an abstract (scroll down a ways to find it). Better than nada. Like information architecture? Like baseball? Then you're in luck. Former Argonaut and Tvisions-naut Shawn Stemen has neatly knitted them together in what…

Aug 30, 2001: Livin' La Vida Muerta   0 comments
OK, now it can be said: you are one morbid bunch. Almost twenty of you wrote to discuss my demise. Don't you have anything better to do? Do you really want the book that bad? Honestly, there are some used ones at Amazon, for crying out loud... I liked what Matt Johnson wrote, especially as it didn't end up with me being dead: I think you have completely misinterpreted all this. It sounds to me like you have a for real guardian angel. You are going to live for ever, no matter what stupid way you try to kill yourself. That will give you plenty of time to sort out the world's information architecture problems. Well, based on the feedback to my recent "future of IA" postings on SIGIA-L, I think that I'm only creating more IA problems. Maybe I should reread these morbid submissions to turn up the most meaningful death I can find. Paul Natress deserves…

Aug 26, 2001: I Want to Live!   0 comments
Not sure why the Grim Reaper has it in for me, but I'm clearly not long for this earth. While white watering last month, I fell out of the raft at the absolute worst possible place on the rapids. Yeah, they fished me out, but I COULDA BEEN KILLED! Then last week at the Jersey Shore the riptide snagged me and yanked me out to sea. Not knowing anything about riptides, I tried swimming straight back to shore. Mistake. Don't--I repeat--DON'T do this! (Here's what to do.) Thought I was a goner for sure. Between gulps of salt water, I managed to sweet-talk an unhelpful kayaker into dragging my soggy butt back in. Yesterday I was trimming the hedges with the electric trimmer and SNIP! trimmed my way right through the power cord. Never had done that before in years of trimming. So what does it all mean? I don't know, and I'm looking for answers.…

Aug 23, 2001: Future Directions for IA   0 comments
As a brand new field, we information architects have spent the past few years absorbed with such typically adolescent pursuits as self-definition and self-justification. I don't know whether this soul-searching is necessary or completely pointless, but I think it's time to move on. At a certain point introspection becomes tedium. So let's begin looking forward instead of inward: what will we be doing in ten years that's completely different? Or will information architects continue to see their jobs as being about creating wire frames and blueprints? Please God, I hope not. Here are some areas that I think information architects can and should take on. Some are orphans that may have gone unnoticed and therefore unowned. Some are simply not well understood by most people working on web sites today, including most IAs. Each of these areas presents us with difficult and interesting challenges that will increasingly demand our attention over time. And they fit…

Aug 18, 2001: We've Got a Winner!   0 comments
Happy BlougList subscriber Natalie Boon will soon be trying on that piece of history lovingly described in the August 14 entry. Congratulations Natalie, and don't forget to say a special hosanna to Clive, patron saint of black concert T-shirts and microwaveable casseroles. Next Bloug historical prize drawing: I'll pony up a never used copy of "Portal in a Box™" from Autonomy. You know Autonomy: they're the friendly "Automate or Die" people. Anyway, it's unopened because I couldn't manually break through the friggin' shrink wrap...…

Aug 14, 2001: Something You Won't Find on Ebay   0 comments
A special collector's item for Bloug subscribers only: this fine T-shirt from the 1993 Gopher World Tour: Yes, the Gopherpocalypse was upon us in early '93. Gopher had gnawed its way out of its birthing pen at the University of Minnesota and into the imaginations of digerati across the globe. Big choppers, pointy claws... and, by gosh, hundreds of servers. Iceland??? Cool! Yes, the geomyidae juggernaut was upon us. What did it mean to me? Well, I was enthralled by Gopher and the idea of burrowing from server to server, one delicious hierarchy after another. No, enthralled is too weak a term. No sir, it was love, plain and simple. So when Rich Wiggins gave a talk to my students at the University of Michigan that fall, predicting Gopher's demise as soon as that new graphical Web browser was publicly available, I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Ha ha ha, Rich. After all, why on earth would…

Aug 13, 2001: Yet More Vennting   1 comment
With a little more input, Jess McMullin has redesigned the "majoring/minoring" Venn diagram (the initial discussion took place in late July). He obviously got sick of drawing Venns, because then he produced this. Thanks Jess; now get some sleep, will ya?…

Aug 12, 2001: Response to my most recent Lame-Brained Theory   0 comments
In my August 1 Bloug entry, I baited y'all with the following statement: "Search algorithms haven't really changed in decades, and we probably won't see any radically different search algorithms in our lifetimes. Aside from hardware-based improvements, such as processing speed, the automated aspects of the search process simply won't get much better." I was hoping to get a response from Someone Who Knows More Than I Do™. And it was my lucky day; Microsoft's Dave Billick, an information retrieval expert whom I knew back in his Ann Arbor days, was kind enough to respond: I'd say search algorithms have changed in a few basic ways, at least in the Web context. The use of linked to/from data and the like are bits of information we never had available before. This is potentially valuable information (but I'm not convinced yet). But it is new. And there's ton's more data for TF/IDF logic to work on. And there's…

Aug 9, 2001: Suck Up   0 comments
Yes, I'll do just about anything to get free stuff, especially a signed copy of a good book. Thanks Paul!…

Aug 8, 2001: Paul Kahn--Someone I've always wanted to be   0 comments
I've known Paul for a couple years, and have been stealthily monitoring his movements for even longer. For years he and Krzysztof Lenk ran the highly regarded studio Dynamic Diagrams, which was acquired last year by ingenta. Aside from building a viable IA consulting firm (not easy, trust me), their accomplishments included developing MAPA, an interesting software tool that creates functional visual maps of site architectures. Not surprisingly, Paul and Krzysztof also wrote Mapping Web Sites: Digital Media Design, which I haven't read yet but am fully confident will be worth the effort (by the way Paul, I'm still waiting for that signed copy to show up!). Paul was one of the first people I've encountered that called himself an information architect; the earlier someone took on that appellation, the more deserving they are of our respect. Because, honestly, even after writing a book on the topic I still feel uncomfortable explaining what IA is to people…

Aug 2, 2001: Get on the blougList   0 comments
I'm insanely curious to know something about this site's visitors. And I'm too lazy to bother analyzing logs and the such. So I'm going to experiment with a one-way mailing list: you subscribe (very easy), and I'll send you the same occasional, irregular and painstakingly brief entries that you'll find posted here. In fact, I won't even send you my narcissistic postings, just the IA-related ones. In return I'll be able to track the number of subscribers which, I hope, will grow over time. I've set up blougList as a Yahoo! group, so you can unsubscribe as easily as you subscribe. Go to its Yahoo page for directions (and, eventually, the archive of past postings). Or to subscribe just send an email to blougList-subscribe@yahoogroups.com with your email address in the body of the message. Very easy!…

Aug 1, 2001: Lame-Brained Theory of the Day   0 comments
Search algorithms haven't really changed in decades, and we probably won't see any radically different search algorithms in our lifetimes. Aside from hardware-based improvements, such as processing speed, the automated aspects of the search process simply won't get much better. What will get better? Two things. Users will become better searchers. Our kids will put us to shame with their information-seeking ingenuity. (Some already do). They'll unconsciously figure out how to combine and reconfigure the same set of search algorithms that we've been struggling to understand for years. So users will be different in the future. The presentation and organization of search results will improve. Here's something to get excited about, as we may not have to wait two decades to see the progress. And better yet, we can probably automate many aspects of search result presentation and organization. This is a wide-open area that information architects generally haven't paid much attention to in…

Jul 28, 2001: The IA Market   0 comments
OK, here's one interesting takeaway from the last IAsk survey: here are the top ten most popular resources (i.e., journals, sites, and discussion lists) mentioned: ASIS&T - SIGIA-L (69 mentions) *ACIA - Argus Center for Information Architecture (59) *Useit.com (48) *Elegant Hack (44) *UsableWeb (27) *peterme.com (23) ACM (non SIGCHI) (17) *Good Experience (17) *WebWord (17) ASIS&T - American Society for Information Science & Technology (non SIGIA-L) (15) Seven (those with asterisks) are essentially labors of love, each run by one or two individuals. The others are under the aegis of two professional associations. It should be clear what's missing: no commercial entities. There are no businesses that are making dedicated efforts to provide content to information architects. Go further down the list and a few commercial publications, such as Web Techniques and Industry Standard, do appear. But those aren't IA-specific publications, and in general most of the items mentioned are non-commercial. How much of this is a function of the economic downturn? Certainly to…

Jul 25, 2001: Vennting   1 comment
My posting from July 19 (see below) seems to have actually elicited some lighthearted feedback at Elegant Hack and, to my surprise, a full-fledged and tastefully-rendered diagram from Jess McMullin. Short version below: The detailed, much more interesting version is here. Mind you, this is something of an indirect collaboration; Jess took my original posting, rendered it, and added some thoughts of his own, primarily in the "Skills and Roles" notes. My original intent was a little different than Jess' interpretation. I wanted to encourage that we use the users/content/context categories to help us understand how our native disciplines fit into IA. We may come from a field that prepares us to deal with one of the three (our "majors"), and as we try to expand our IA expertise, we ideally will pick up skills from disciplines that fit in one of the other categories (our "minors"). This rudimentary gap analysis could be helpful in a few ways: We'd have a better…

Jul 20, 2001: Love and Softball   0 comments
ANN ARBOR (AP) -- The Ann Arbor Observer O's won its first game of the season 12-11, running its record to a palindromic 1-8-1, with a four run two-out rally in the bottom of the last inning. The rally was crowned by the base running of firstbaseperson Mary Jean Babic, who blotted out an earlier base path blunder by deftly dodging the defending catcher and scoring the winning run. As she was being carried off the field by a throng of adoring teammates, Babic credited her fianc, Lou Rosenfeld, with providing the love and support that made her miracle run possible. "Celine Dion, eat your goddamn Canadian heart out" Babic was heard to babble as she was baptized with yet another bottle of Brut.…

Jul 19, 2001: New IAsk Survey   0 comments
What a pain in the ass. I'll never do a survey like this one again. However, I will milk it for Bloug fodder for some time to come. More later.…

Jul 19, 2001: Majors and Minors   0 comments
A fellow information architect asked me a tough question: What might be the top skills, qualities etc. that an IA should have to remain attractive for hire in this unpredictable economy? Or what should I be doing with my time now that I don't have a full time job? For some odd reason I seem to be getting asked this or something similar quite a bit of late. Here's my best answer: definitely sit tight for a few months if you can. The market is still lousy and will be for a few months. Take the time to network with other IAs and improve your skills where you feel weak. I see information architecture as the intersection of three areas (imagine yet another three-circled Venn diagram): users: (who they are, what their information-seeking behaviors and needs are) content: (volume, formats, metadata, structure, organization) context: (business model, business value, politics, culture, resources and resource constraints) We all come from a background that fits into one…

Jul 17, 2001: Sore Butt   0 comments
Home. Whew! The road trip slogged through 22 days, 20 states, 7,150 miles, two continental mountain ranges, and five or six microbreweries. Thanks to the hospitality of numerous friends and family, the reliability of the trusty Passat, and the wonders of credit card-based commerce, the trip went incredibly smoothly. Even the nation's interstate drivers cooperated; I felt the urge to flip one of them off only once. Some reactions: Best place to spend the 4th: The rooftop of Ed Hargis' apartment building in Seattle, overlooking the fireworks display being launched from a barge on Lake Union. The lake itself was studded with hundreds of boats, clamoring for great views, that were lit up and looked like Xmas lights. I especially liked the fireworks that exploded to look like ringed planets. Motel Staff: Seems they're entirely comprised of glum women in their late 50s and their glum 19 year old offspring. Maybe this is…

Jul 8, 2001: Tetonic Angst   0 comments
Unhappiness is the pouring rain at Yellowstone National Park. Somewhat salvaged by Simpsons reruns on the good old motel TV. Rain aside, if I could do it again, I'd spend more time in Grand Tetons National Park than Yellowstone. Yellowstone is known to make geologists drool, but GTNP is pretty danged incredible itself. The range was created by a fault that separated what eventually became the peaks from the Snake River valley by about 14,000 feet. Mountain glaciers scratched and carved out the jagged rest. Go there for some incredible hikes, but when you're done, be sure to avoid nearby Jackson, a yuppie cowboy burg full of hard to find establishments like Eddie Bauer.…

Jul 7, 2001: Enough Kvetching Already...   0 comments
I've been wondering how a cross-country road trip would affect my thinking about information architecture. (Thinking about work: what better way to spoil a vacation?) I can't say that I've made any major breakthroughs while encountering Maxwell, Nebraska; Winnemucca, Nevada; or Atomic City, Idaho. In fact, each of these towns has more important issues to deal with than, for example, whether we should define information architecture broadly or narrowly. Don't get me wrong: it's good that we're having these discussions on SIGIA-L, endless as they may seem (and trust me, this thread will come up for years to come). But what are we doing to help the rest of the world understand us in a simple and effective way? What's much more important than our definitions is that each of us can do these two things in an elevator: (1) provide a definition of information architecture in one sentence or less; and (2) explain why it's important in one sentence or less. You…

Jun 30, 2001: Small Mercies   0 comments
Kudos to the Comfort Inn of Battle Mountain, Nevada! When I checked in last night, I was delighted to find one of those paper ribbons stretched across the commode. Realized that I hadn't seen this in about five years. Silly, and a waste of paper, but geez, it was a thrill...…

Jun 29, 2001: Across the Great Divide   0 comments
Last missive was from Omaha. Spent the next day driving the length of Nebraska, which is dusty and full of prairie so lovely that it made me hungry. If you're a train nut, go there; saw several that were at least 150 cars. Then a couple days of hiking, biking, and sampling microbrews with a cousin in Fort Collins, Colorado. Another visually-stunning drive to recommend: Fort Collins to Laramie, Wyoming. Local route but fast. Interesting transition from powerbar-munching, outdoor-fanatic culture to the realm of big belt buckles. Then back to I-80, heading, naturally, west, through the rest of lunar Wyoming. Crossed the Continental Divide which, to my disappointment, wasn't an Everest-like experience where you can stop and just look down in one direction to the Pacific and the other to the Gulf of Mexico. It was actually on a huge flat plain with no distinguishing characteristics. Other than being surrounded by huge biblical mountains and enveloped in 100 degree heat, Salt Lake City…

Jun 26, 2001: Really Long Road Trip, Day #2   0 comments
An eerie, creepy Kaopectate-pink light awoke me a few minutes ago. Turns out it's just dawn in Omaha, rising over the cement factory that dominates the view from the Comfort Inn here. Despite the local Cracker Barrel's best efforts to countrify the area, this end of Omaha has succumbed to industrial disease, pure and simple. But never having been to Nebraska before, I'm certain that driving west will unveil its true beauty. That's what happened yesterday in Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa: for whatever reason the view from the interstate gets better and better as you head west. Horace Greeley had it right. Aside from a couple of gas stops, I drove the 700 miles straight through yesterday, I-94 and I-80 all the way. At a more leisurely pace, I could have pulled off at any of the birthplaces of four famous Americans that merited their own signs on the interstates: Bob Feller, John Wayne,…

Jun 21, 2001: Who Needs a Job Anyway?   0 comments
Assuming the planets remain properly aligned, I'll be embarking on a Really Long Road Trip on Monday, June 25. 3-4 weeks, 18 states, 6000+ miles. (According to Myra at Studio Mobius the number is closer to 11,000+ miles, but honestly, how many graphic designers have you met who can count?) This is something I've always wanted to do, and now seems to be the ideal time to do it — no full-time job, gas still under $5/gallon — though our editor at O'Reilly probably won't be too thrilled. I'm hoping to stumble across some information architects along the way who would like to compare notes, commiserate, maybe even buy me a beer. So if you're based in any of these places, let me know and maybe we'll get a chance to hook up: Denver/Fort Collins, Salt Lake City, Boise, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Madison, Asheville and Columbus.…

Jun 20, 2001: Organizational Architexture + Information Architecture = 1   0 comments
The SIGIA-L mailing list has generated a lot of heat of late. Why, I don't know: something to do with school being out? Anyway, Paula Thornton makes a strong case (once again) for information architects to bone up on "organizational design." Which leads me to one of my favorite hare-brained ideas: could there be an inverse relationship between investments in organizational design and information architecture? Could we avoid expensive, painful, and often unsuccessful corporate reorgs if we had better enterprise information architectures in the first place? Methinks yes; do you? Let me know.…

Jun 15, 2001: As Seen on PeterMe.com   0 comments
Want to keep up with bloug with minimal muss and fuss? Use SpyOnIt.…

Jun 14, 2001: The Blog with the Guarantee   0 comments
I've broken down and started up a blog. Like a lot of recently out-of-work folks/new bloggers, I've been ripped from the warm embrace of a highly charged intellectual environment. And I miss it terribly. Sure, I could just read all the great stuff that other people are writing, though with the potential demise of Tomalak's Realm, that might become much more difficult. But honestly: I hate to read content that's related to work. I like to think this is not disinterest or intellectual laziness, like some people. No, I'd just rather read the stuff my friends feed me. I also find that IA-related concepts are much more enjoyable if I get a chance to articulate them, not just read about them; hence bloug. So I'll keep it short and, I hope, sweet. I'll do my best to punctuate properly, avoid misspellings, refrain from profanity. And, with your help, I'll work hard to avoid narcissism, or at least warn you when it's all…