- Less is more – don’t be tempted to cram everything above the fold. Good use of whitespace and imagery encourages exploration.
- Stark, horizontal lines discourage scrolling – this doesn’t mean stop using horizontal full width elements. Have a small amount of content just visible, poking up above the fold to encourage scrolling.
- Avoid the use of in-page scroll bars – the browser scrollbar is an indicator of the amount of content on the page. iFrames and other elements with scroll bars in the page can break this convention and may lead to content not being seen.
Stimulated by Dan Brown’s 8 principles of information architecture, I’d describe information architecture in 3 core activities:
- Understand: Obtain a thorough understanding of the vision (aka requirements) and the users.
### Dan Brown says: … nothing
- Outline: Develop models of how content can be organised and how to facilitate direct and mediated interaction.
### Dan Brown says: Manage the paradox of choice; Allow for growth; Disclose progressively; Think in facets.
- Curate: In the digital world, everything is hidden by default. Create interfaces (visual, auditive, tactile) that allow users to uncover relevant content and easily touch base with the system.
### Dan Brown says: Provide examples; Provide multiple front doors; Navigate by function.
- Organisational structure
- Mix up types at each level
- Start with one type and use a different type at the next level.
- Use more than one approach for your whole content set.
Donna Spencer: Classification schemes (and when to use them)
- See how Hafencity is developing with its cost exploding Elbphilharmonie. It’s only a 10 minutes walk from Hauptbahnhof and next to Speicherstadt . In the neighborhood: the impressive Chile Haus.
- Climb up Michel (St Michaelis church tower), the city’s landmark, and get an idea of the city’s layout
- Walk all around the Alster lake in the middle of the city (approx. 90 minutes)
- Take a passenger ferry from St. Pauli Landungsbrücken to Teufelsbrück (You will need to change boat in Finkenwerder). Walk all the way back along the Elbe with plenty of beautiful spots.
- Take a tour in and around Rathaus (city hall); more rooms than buckingham palace?
- Hang out in Schanzenviertel, too trendy to be true … Not far from here: Jimmy Elsass, the best Flammkuchen place in the world./li>
- Have coffee in Cafe Gnosa, enjoy the best cake and the friendliest gays in town
- Visit Kunsthalle (fine arts and contemporary) and Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (applied arts, photography)
- Fischmarkt, Sunday (very early) morning market
- A night out at Reeperbahn. Aoid big tourist-traps on main road and look for more cosy and loungy places in sidestreets or go to near-by Golden Pudel Club for alternative music and drinks
- Treat content as objects
- Manage the paradox of choice (Less is more)
- Disclose progressively
- Provide examples
- Provide multiple front doors
- Allow for growth
- Think in facets (Provide multiple classification schemes)
- Navigate by function; move away from thinking ‘Top navigation’, ‘Left hand nav’, ‘utilities’ etc and think of different navigation types that support interaction with the site, eg Topical navigation, Service navigation, Magazine navighation, Dynamic navigation … (examples mentioned in talk, don’t necessarily agree with these types but like the general idea of describing navigation by its purpose (see quote below).
“Navigation is a tool and we must think about it in terms of the purpose that it serves … (such as) exploring related topics, digging deeper into a current topic, escaping from the current topic, filtering a collection. (…) Don’t describe navigation in terms of where it lives on the page but what it does.”
Notes from Beyond Card Sorting: Research Methods for Organizing Content Rich Web Sites Run Amok, IA 2010 summit talk by Michael Hawley; slides on slideshare
- Free listing; participants think of what comes to mind for a given domain/topic; > frequency analysis; identify most important/salient items; can help sampling cards for card sort; get first ideas for taxonomy/labels/issues
- Card sort in focus groups; start with individual online card sort; discuss individual and aggergated results in group;
- Validation of proposed hierarchy; use tools like TreeJack to test the model of a site/organisation
- Findability testing (FirstClick); test prototype or actual site
- Reserach for facets; use technicues like triading: Present three objects and ask participants which two objects are different from the third onme (and why); can be extended to repertory grid.
- Naming exercises; plain surveys to find labels for proposed categories (after card sort)
- Delphi Card sorting: content model is developed iteratively, starting with a proposed architecture by domain expert, which is then adjusted/developed iteratively by participants
- Misleading similarity
- Poor placement
- Non information
- Unmet expectations
- Information gap (leading with proprietary terms)
John Boykin, talk on IA summit 10 (Podcast)
The homepage is the ideal entry point for a site. It should
- raise attention and interest: ‘Where am I and why am I here?’
- provide scope and direction for its content: ‘What’s on offer?’
- and facilitate quick and easy actions to engage the user immediately: ‘What can I do?’
Liberal leader Nick Clegg responding to the fact that his PR adviser has left briefing documents for the first election TV debate on the back of a taxi:
“I’m glad to see my top team is preparing for government by developing the habit of leaving secret dossiers in the back of cabs.”
Quote from The Guardian
My comment in response to Jeff Johnson’s book/article: Designing with the Mind in Mind
I do agree that visual structure is key to clean and scannable interfaces but this insight is often being challenged in usability test sessions. Presenting information in a purely structurded way implies some level of abstraction that many users (particularly casual ones) cannot follow easily as it makes them ‘think’. And this is what UX designers want to avoid by all means :-).
People often prefer plain language information, phrased in full sentences. My guess: it’s because a sentence is more explicit and is better suited to mimic a conversation (which successful HCI is all about).
This does not hold true for any site and any type of information and it doesn’t undermine the good principles that you’ve outlined here. But it shows that minds work differently and many people want to be addressed in a more direct (as you call it) prose style.