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Office hours: Thursdays 5:30-6:30 or by appointment
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This course offers students the opportunity to explore Information Architecture (IA) in the context of practical application on the Web. Starting with an examination of the foundation principles and historical precedents, the course will focus on a study of current standards and applications. Emphasis will be on the process of IA from the definition of user requirements, to feature sets, to documentation and validation.
Students will work alone and in teams. There will be several smaller assignments throughout the first half of the semester and a final project due at the end of the semester.
Each class will be divided into three flexible areas: Lecture, Discussion and Exercise/Review.
Lectures will focus on the topic of the week, as detailed below. Each lecture is tailored and targeted to a specific topic, and relates to the discussion and exercise.
Discussion will be open forums on assigned reading and the topic at hand.
Exercises will be short in-class assignments meant to highlight the week’s topic, stimulate additional discussion or reinforce a process or principle.
Review will encompass examination of the current assignments and a critique, as time allows.
Attendance is mandatory and tardiness is noted for grading purposes. Class participation, the assignments, and the final project all contribute to the final grade.
This outline is subject to change depending upon input from students, guest lecturers’ availability and the instructor’s schedule.
Week 1: Introductions
This week the instructor and students exchange introductions and become a bit familiar with the structure and set-up. Class objectives and the weekly outline are reviewed. This will be a relatively informal class, with a focus on discussion and interaction.
Exercise: Class will fill out information sheet listing contact information, personal project-related information.
The five websites for review are:
Week 2: Historical Overview of Information Design and the Role of an IA in Web Development
The focus this week is on the definition of information architecture and a historical overview of information design and the origins of information architecture for the web, concluding with the specific role information architecture plays in Web development.
British Museum Egyptology online
Assignment: Instructor will hand out a print document that is lacking in good information design. Students are to critique the work, and redesign it to correct the shortcomings. Read handouts: Rosenfeld, Information Architecture for the Word Wide Web, pp. 131-147.
Week 3: Discovery and Definition
This week the instructor explains processes for gathering information about the project and the goals. Specific examples of the deliverables are reviewed and discussed.
Jupiter Media Metrix
Week 4: Research and Analysis
This week focuses on refining the project goals, user needs and client needs. Discovery sessions, competitive analyses and research are also covered.
Week 5: Content and Branding
The importance of content and branding, and how they are related to information architecture is the focus of this lecture. Some sites we examined
New York Times
The Toronto Star
Week 6: Mapping
The process of mapping is discussed, from a global level to a screen specific level.
Week 7: Navigation
This session will focus on the design of navigational structure and features. The final project assignment will also be discussed.
Week 8: Usability
User testing, focus groups, heuristic reviews and usability testing will be the focus of this week’s session.
Usability Professionals’ Association
Testing Methods and Tools (University of Maryland)
Week 9: Guest Lecturer: Mark Ritzmann
This week will feature Mr. Ritzmann (of IBM) explaining the role if IA in large scale web development projects. He will speak to the process of business development, from the initial planning stages, through to requirements and IA, and the build process.
Week 10: Functional Specification and Consulting Skills
This session will focus heavily on the development of the Functional specification, and a review/walk-through of a template of that document. This class will also feature a review of issues useful for presentation and meeting skills.
Week 11: Interaction and Experience Design
This session will focus on interactions and the design and implementation of alternative and experimental navigations.
Week 12: The Future of IA
This session will be a forward looking session, talking about cutting-edge developments and the role of IA in wireless and emerging technologies.
Week 13: Final presentations I
This week students will begin presenting their final projects to the class. Each student will have a set amount of time to present, followed by a critique lead by the instructor.
Week 14: Final presentations II and Wrap-up
This week will conclude the final presentations. The session and set-up will mimic the previous week. The end of the session will consist of general wrap and discussion of any open items.
These are recommended titles for an Information Architecture reference and resource library. They are not required: the instructor will provide photocopies of any relevant sections as needed.
About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Designby Alan Cooper
Design Wise: A Guide for Evaluating the Interface Design of Information Resources by Alison J. Head
Eccentric Spaces by Robert Harbison
Information Design edited by Robert Jacobson
Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville
Web Site Usability: A Designers Guide by Jared M. Spool, et al
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative by Edward R. Tufte
Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
ACM SIGCHI: HCI Sites -A series of links to sites about Human Computer Interaction.
American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) Information
AskTog -The personal website of Bruce Tognazzini
A Summary of User Interface Design Principles -A compilation of fundamental principles for designing user interfaces, drawn from a variety of sources.
10 Questions About Information Architecture -Presented by Cnet builder.com.
Usable Web -A collection of web usability links.
UseIt.com -Jakob Nielsen’s web site.
User Interface Engineering -An online resource for web development, specifically in areas of information presentation and design.
Webmonkey: From Web to Print -An excellent discussion on the differences between the world of print and web media.
Yale Web Style Guide -An online version of the popular web style guide.