Methods

The web is awash with sterile design solutions. IBM, Dell, Microsoft, and countless others are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Though one might say this makes browsing easier by virtue of a standardized interface, in reality such sites create mundane experiences for their users and fail to make a positive connection with their audience.

Semiotics teaches us as designers that our work has no meaning outside the complex set of factors that define it. The deeper our understanding and awareness of these factors, the better our control over the success of the work products we create.

As a specialist in the user, you gain knowledge through observation and direct questioning of individual users. Now, you can add to that insights gained from data pulled during their actions on the site. By looking at this information, you will get a fuller picture of user behavior, not in a lab, but in the true user environment.

There is not consensus on exactly what information design is. Definitions of the discipline from stakeholders who associate themselves with the field are consistent only in that they are typically high level, not very concrete and do not offer much in the way of direct practical application.

As the field of information architecture matures, we are beginning to understand the new challenges it raises for wireless media. This article suggests that some of these challenges can be best addressed through an approach called “psychology-driven information architecture,” which bases design decisions and solutions on the psychological profile of the end user.

We hear and talk a lot about card sorting in various forms, and how it can be used as input on a hierarchy or classification system (or a taxonomy, if you like more technical words). We hear that we should test our hierarchies, but we don’t talk about how.

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