In the words of Bugs Bunny, That’s all Folks!
Yep, that’s right, the semester has come to an end, and with that, my Weekly Wrap Up blogs will be too. I’ve learnt a lot this semester, with two very interesting subjects that have helped my figure out my passion for user experience. I’m very lucky that I’ve had such supportive teachers, and I can honestly say that what I’ve learnt this semester will help me in my future.
By far the most i’ve learnt (and been interested in) comes from Designing for the Web. Not only did i enhance my HTML and CSS skills (which i had learnt in preparation for this subject), I also learnt how to create an effective report for information architecture, as well as how to research information architecture and the user’s experience of a website. I also had to create a website, for a client in a group, strengthening my teamwork skills. I also had to use my leadership skills as I was the Project Manager of the assignment. (If you want to hear more about this assignment, click here). Overall, it was a fantastic subject that I am lucky to have been able to take.
The other subject was Managing Digital information. As you have probably ready from my previous weekly wrap ups, I haven’t enjoyed this subject as much, but it is still undoubtedly useful in my future career – even if I don’t want to be a librarian or a curator, people will still need databases, and I am now able to create them, using industry standards, and all of the other knowledge that I gained from this subject.
Overall I’ve had a fantastic semester, and I’m looking forward to the next one. But what about the blog? Now that the semester is over, I won’t have much to write about! But don’t worry too much, now that I’m on uni break, I will have more time to write more journalistic articles, some of which will be featured on OuttaGum , as well as my summer project. What is my summer project? Well it’s something that I will use to occupy my time, and add to my portfolio. Unlike this series I will be writing as I go, rather than a weekly wrap up, thus it may be more sporadic. It will happen however, as it is something I am very passionate about and looking forward to. The first post can be found here.
Anyway, thanks for reading along, and I hope that you gained some insight onto what I learnt this semester. The weekly wrap ups will be back next semester, along with what I’ve written above, so see you in 4 months!
The past couple of week on this blog have been rather quiet, and while some of that is due to lack of classes, and other parts of it is due to other ‘unforeseen circumstances’, it is also because I’ve had a lot of university work, and work itself to do, and I prioritised that over this blog. So, I’m sorry about that, but hey, at least it shows that I know how to prioritise!
Anyway, back to what I’ve been doing. The past couple of weeks has mostly been about our assignments. For Managing Digital Information we have been working on our database. I’m not going to lie, I’m really not enjoying this subject, or these assignments. It seems rahter repetitive, however I can’t deny that is applicable to someone who wants a career in Information Architecture, as I do. Part of IA is knowing how people search for information on the web, so database management is an essential skill. I have to admit however, that a lot of this seems to be common sense. There is a possibility that I may be thinking this because I’ve already learnt a lot in my previous subjects, and the culmination of that knowledge has lead me to that belief.
Web design on the other hand has probably been my favourite subject in my entire degree. Like I said before, this week was predominately about our assignment. We had a meeting with out tutor, and the subject coordinator. Because I’ve become the project manager of the group, I had to ensure that everyone was up to date with their part of the assignment, according to the plan that we had created. By this week we wanted to have all of the wireframes done, the CSS and the HTML for the homepage all completed. We had already done all the research for this assignment previously so we didn’t need to do anything with that, however we will need to document it for the report, which is something that will be done by next week hopefully.
I was really happy, because all the feedback we got from our teachers were very good, and they were impressed with what we had done, and we are definitely on track (thankfully!). In fact we were told that they were impressed that we had a homepage completed, apparently no many other groups had done that. The rest of the work for this week will mostly be focused on finishing my part – most of which I’ve done already (The HTML for two of the other five pages, the client brief), and then waiting for everyone else to complete their part so I can finish mine (the usability testing, and finalising the report and prototype of the website).
I’m not sure if I’ve exactly explained what assignment 3 is in this subject, but if you’re interested you can check out this post to find out more!
For MDI I ensured that I wasn’t the project manager (which I often end up doing just because no one else will, and I’m the kind of person who likes to make lists and make sure that everything is completed properly. What can I say, I’m a perfectionist). I decided to do this because i knew I would already have a large workload with Web Design and my other commitments, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not great at this subject, nir am I super passionate about it. So, for this assignment I’m in charge of writing the final report. This is good because it’s something I can do at home while waiting for people from other assignment to send me their stuff.
This week predominately focused on definitions, with Web design actually defining information architecture and how it relates to design (and UXD!), and MDI defining the indexing process.
In Web Desgin we talked predominantly about Information Architecture. Specifically what an Information architect does. While we were given quite a few different definitions (as it is such a broad thing), there was one that stood out to me the most, a statement by Jorge Arango from 2010 where he said “Information Architecture is not tied to a particular technology. While it is true that this is a field born from the internet, it is all around us. IA has always been about helping people find and understand things – this is where it adds value to the world”. Information is always around us, but it is Information Architecture that actually helps people use it. IA is usually invisible, unless something isn’t working. And that’s also how Design comes into play. In fact, we discussed how, no matter how well a website is organised, if it doesn’t look good, a person won’t use it. This is where the Psychology of design comes in, which you can see below.
There are many things to consider when actually designing a website, but one of the biggest things I took out of this was that when working as an Information Architect I need to be wary of how design choices can actually affect how the IA works, and that it can negatively affect the users, context or content.
It was a very information heavy lecture, so compared to that the tutorial was rather laid back. We also focused on information architecture, however we used the skills learnt so far to analyse other websites. My group and I (more me than anyone else to be fair) decided to analyse the website comic book resources. I often find myself going to this website for comic book, and pop culture related news, however I know that every time I got there, I’m unhappy with it. I’ve never been able to my put my finger on why I wasn’t happy with it, but now, with the skills that I’ve learnt I am able to. Our final review was that, from an IA point of view, it does have good access to information, however in this case, there is too much information being given and it is overwhelming. The insistence on tags, as well as the fact that all the information is shoved into a small space can make a user feel uncomfortable on the website.
With managing digital information there was a lot of information given to us this week. We mentioned things relating to the upcoming assignment, such as things like boundary objects (that i mentioned last week), and we also focused heavily on the actual indexing process (which was adapted from Mai, 1999). There were three main parts being:
- Document Analysis Process
- Subject Description
- Subject Analysis
With The document analysis process being about what the subjects are, the subject description being about formulating a phrase that allows it to be indexed, and the subject analysis being about translating the subject description into indexing language. I have to admit, this does confuse me a little bit, however I’m sure that I will get it sooner or later, and if not, I’ll ask my tutor about it.
In the tutorial we once again practiced categorising documents, however this time we had to categories their about-ness. While this is still also confusing to me – what exactly is about-ness?, I found that I was very good at it, finding the key works or phrases in a text, as well as the two or 3 overall ideas, based on who is looking for it. We were given an article about the increase of lead in the water supply in Ontario, Canada. The first time we had to categories it for a scientific database, and the second time we had to categorise it for a medical one. It was surprising for me to see the difference in how I would categories it, where with some categories I would completely change, while others I would just add a word, for example for the scientific database I would use the phrase “Lead-Levels” and for the medical one i would use the phrase “Blood Lead-Levels”
I was also lucky enough to go to a UTS Communications career event, which you can read about here
Image from the UTS careers service