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