Most relevant topics

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Information Architecture and future view

So far we have seen some aspects of IA as related to website design (which indeed is one of the main strategic enterprise information management system). But, application of IA never ends. As IT blends into every human activity, it is creating new avenues of IA to explore. This situation will soon lead to a interactive information envelop that would surround the earth. New tools, technology and standards will evolve to manage and maintain this information envelop which would be subjected to constant privacy and security concerns. New ways of IA techniques would need to evolve to represent the structure and design of these new human interaction environments. Added difficulty would be to integrate information visualization with information representation models.

Looking forward, the field of IA will constantly evolve and would reach some maturity in the next 20-30 years when more robust information visualization and information representation techniques are invented and deployed to model and design the new information interaction environments.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

Information Architecture and security

Information Architecture, in general, should be implemented in such a way that it makes the user feel safe and comfortable while surfing through the site. Providing links to privacy policy, Feedbacks and the like would be good starting point. As indicated, there is no clear rule of thumb for internet governance and thus no best IA model that could support the best internet governance standards.

A good IA should take into account the global rules set by ICANN and other general bodies on internet and web site development and maintenance. This would make it easy for the transition if at all a UN based central body is set up in the near future. Incorporating secured means of data transfer would be the best option to avoid security breaches.

I have had chance to implement security and privacy features such as personalized web pages, secured (https) connections, single sign ons. Personalized web pages is a great means to foster credibility and sense of belongingness to the site content and features. Secured data transfer would create the impression that the web site do care about data security. Single Sign ons aids in reducing user effort to login separately into two related websites.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Not only is shopping melting into everything, but everything is melting into shopping"

"Not only is shopping melting into everything, but everything is melting into shopping"

(The above sentence is taken from the referred article)

The article 'The mauling of America', by Wittman K., introduces the consumer oriented nature of retail architectures. The article brings into light the most visible forms of 'Gruen effect' where the consumer is forced to buy/shop more and more, even though he doesn't intend to buy more. Citing various examples of malls to casinos to restaurants, the author describes how the architecture is designed to support endless shopping by attracting as many customers. The effect of this global phenomenon is so powerful that even airports have become just another center for shopping.

In the article 'Designed to shop' by Dupree C., highlights the effect that globalization and modernization has on the retail architecture. It talks about how architecture has changed its nature from "frozen music" to "junkspaces", when the focus is now on shopping and nothing else. The reason for this is the shift in priorities from public interest to revenue making. The article cites various examples including the artificial rain forests created in Mirage Casino-Hotel (Las Vegas), where the atmosphere is fine-tuned to favor consumption.

Both the articles focus on a single point - "The effect of consumption oriented culture on the architectural design of retail stores and other public service monuments" The question that need to be asked here is - "Is it good or bad for the original intended architecture?" If the net effect leads to "junkspaces" rather than "frozen music", it is probably not good. The idea is - if everything is focussed on revenue generation (eg: melting shopping into everything), we might fall back from the core vision of the architecture to support public interest. Also, it is important that the architecture should lead to satisfying the organization's ultimate goal to market itself and generate revenues. So we need to strike a balance between user interests and organization's goal to increase revenue. The same concept can be applied to IA/web site design where we should try to create a balanced approach between user needs and organization's need to market its products and services. The web site architecture may incorporate online marketing principles which would be beneficial to make customers spend more time on the website, exploring its content and services.

Analysis of is not far from creating Gruen effect using its online shopping and marketing techniques. The web site design is optimized in such a way that any activity could potentially melt down to online shopping and thus creation of revenue. The main features that support this situation are the consistent top navigation system (organizing the departments in terms of frequently used items), optimized search system and varied forms of cross-selling techniques.

Prominent and consistent location of departments list prompts user to try out exploring all departments, event though he is not interested. The content organization on the home page is fine tuned to display graphics of all everyday items such as electronics, apparels and sports items. One of the major website architectural components that supports attracting users to all available deals is the implementation of associative relationships. The personalized recommendation section allows user to receive/view product recommendations based on preset decision points or based on previous shopping behavior. Thus, by supporting the user's primary need to seek and find the required stuff, web site strikes balance between the user needs and the site's ultimate goal to market its products and generate revenue.


Wittman K. (Nov., 1997). The Mauling of America. Retrieved from on May, 2008.
Dupree C. (Nov., 1997). Designed To Shop. Retrieved from on May, 2008.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest"

"Hedgehogs see what is essential, and ignore the rest"

(The above sentence is taken from Jim Collin's famous article - 'Are You a Hedgehog or a Fox?' - Below is my anlaysis of this topic as related to Information Architecture)

Collins' article brings out the importance of having a unified "organizing idea" that guides everything. Fox is personified as someone (or a company) who is just smart and looking for various ends at the same time, but fails to focus on any unique idea/plan that should drive him competitive. Hedgehog on the other hand, is personified as someone (or a company) who just focuses on what is most required in order to be competitive in any situation (the essence of the particular topic in subject line).

The core idea that can be correlated to IA world is - the IA should focus on business strategy and the basic structure should support the strategic fit to remain competitive in a changing business environment. This points to the fact that the IA should only consider those critical features that are essential to support the business strategy and should ignore the rest. If IA attempts to implement all state of the art features, the effect will be like what happened to Fox (Hedgehogs would be then other competitive websites which focus on their unique strategic fits).

One of the main objectives of any IA research phase ai to identify the client's current and future business strategy and thus analyze the existing content to see whether the current IA is targeted towards realizing the unified strategic fit as defined by the business strategy. The article further reinforces the rule of thumb that the IA strategy should be focussed on those site features which has a profound impact on realizing the business strategy. Testing reveals that there are features and functionalities that need to be improved in order to support the strategy fit.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

Strategy follows structure - While designing strategy oriented websites

This topic is very relevant when we realize the importance of aligning Information Architecture (IA) with the business strategy. The topic that we reflect on refers to how business strategy and IA are related. It means that business strategy drives the structural design or the IA. In other words, the website IA should support the strategic fit of the business enterprise.

I would like to base any of my IA strategy work on this core concept which drives enterprise Information architecture. The research phase involves analysis of current and future business strategy, where-in I learn that the company's strategy is to utilize its core expertise (x+ years of domain knowledge, managing and processing power, proprietary technological tools and solutions, marketing intelligence and best customer support) in the ABC industry and continue generating revenues by retaining existing customers (variety of audiences) and by improving existing online services and experience. This would mean that the website IA strategy should focus on this core strategic fit (competitive advantage in ABC solutions) and improve existing online experience so that it leads to customer retention and thus steady flow of revenues. Thus a well prepared IA strategy would analyze the current site structure and will propose the most optimal structure to realize the set strategies.

Analysis of has a strong IA as related to supporting its core business strategy to drive "customer-driven innovation". Dell's strategy is to put customers first and satisfy their needs by delivering most suited products and solutions. Looking at the website, it is evident that the top navigation on home page is targeted on the various audiences and their specific product/solutions needs. Each main audience specific content group is further subdivided into products and products are further sub-divided into organization type ('For Office' & 'For Data Center').

When you go inside a specific audience's content group, say 'For Office' --> 'Desktops' --> 'Small & Medium Business', the content is further organized based on user actions - eg: 'Shop', 'Services and Warranties; 'Support', 'Resource center', 'MyAccount'. This further supports the business strategy to better serve its specific customers based on their unique demands.

Considering any of my client's focus on satisfying its various audiences through improved services and support, Dell's website (another alternative was HP) structure/IA is a good example that would fit my client's IA. The main structural aspect that I would like to incorporate is the audience specific content organization on the home page and specific audience's action oriented content organization for each audience.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Instead of creating a clever new product before trying to sell it to customers, the anthropological approach requires companies to look at the ..."

"Instead of creating a clever new product before trying to sell it to customers, the anthropological approach requires companies to look at the customer perspective first and feed that information back to developers and designers."
(The above sentence is from the referred article)

Thomas K.'s article is very much relevant in the context of user research requirement for establishing effective IA. The fact that websites have a global reach and that the user perceptions & needs vary with varying user groups (different audiences/customer types based on market and product types, ethnic groups), ethnographic research, and thus anthropological approach to user research has a great importance in developing products that can satisfy a wide customer base.

One of the companies that I had a chance to work with intended to provide web presence which would act as a one-stop portal for its customers, at the same time market its own organizational mission, values and processes. The customers are defined as various insurance carriers and managed care organizations that provide various insurance products and benefit services to their users. Even though there is no strong effect of ethnic groups (since the products are offered for US), there exists differences in the targeted audience/user types. This calls for looking at perspectives of each of these targeted user types and thus pass the requirements to the design and development team.

For example, the information seeking needs and website usage of agents and capital carrier organizations are totally different. Agents are interested in knowing and managing quoting information such as proposals, quotes, plans, rates etc. They would be interested to have these information/tasks described and linked from the home page. Whereas the carriers groups would like to advertise their products and would like to have options to manage individual and group insurance cases, which would require a totally different view of interface and content (even affecting the way they are linked from the home page). These differing user perceptions and information needs would greatly impact how the main page and the subsequent login based sub-sections would be designed and developed.

Thomas K. (August, 2005). Anthropologists get to the bottom of customer needs. Retrieved from on May, 2008.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Farmers Vs. Cowmen"

"Farmers Vs. Cowmen" - Is a sentence from the referred book and below is my review, recommendations -

I found this topic very interesting and thought provoking since it is directly linked to the way that our mindsets are molded by our educational/professional background. The way different professionals visualize the website is accurately captured. Having a core technical background, I can see how developers would come up with an interface that has state of the art features. This topic is helpful in exposing the inherent likes and dislikes and direct our thinking to what works and what doesn't work.

From recent interviews (email based) conducted for a website IA project at my company, I had opportunity to collect information related to this point of view from the management, marketing department and the lead developer. As far as web and web design is concerned, management wants to portray corporate building on the main page. I was astonished with this requirement. They want the same to be displayed on all pages too. They also want the web site to be task oriented. The marketing department wants the web site design to support excellent customer service via usable site services such as quoting and case management. The lead developer wants to implement the state of the art technology such as advanced DHTML effects, Ajax and web 2.0 features.

The top executives and management thinks that most of their users would be the existing agents, carriers, employees and employers who take part in various insurance programs. They want the prospective clients to visit the website and become partners. The marketing department on the other hand, seems to lose focus on prospective clients since they do not exhibit need to provide detailed portray of company info, business process, technology and capability. This is one of the major areas that I recommend to be stressed in the IA strategy - means which would increase revenue from the website by attracting prospective clients.


Krug S. (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"User’s impressions of a Web site—about usefulness, ease-of-use, and how enjoyable the experience is—are formed by the Web site’s visual design"

"User’s impressions of a Web site—about usefulness, ease-of-use, and how enjoyable the experience is—are formed by the Web site’s visual design"

(The above sentence is from the referred article and below is my insights on this and analysis of couple of websites - and

I liked the article, the way it hits the major points providing valid examples and analogies. The quote which I would like expand on is really the crux of the article which essentially means that a web-site's visual design and thus aesthetic quality has an important role in influencing user's perceived ease of use. Every human being has his/her perception about how useful a web-site might be based on his own aesthetic sense. Again, the topic is valid only if we assume that the aesthetic quality that the web-site brings out is sufficient enough to create perceived usefulness in the minds of majority of users, since every user's aesthetic sense is different. So, I would say that the analogy would be true if the visual design is capable of invoking similar aesthetic appeal to majority of users, so that the web-site creates effective user experience.

I personally like light-medium blue color, so here goes my aesthetic sense. Looking at the three web-sites, and found to be more appealing, visually. I didn't like the orange color on the home depot web-site. So, usage of color was the primary reason for my perceived ease of use.

Again, when I look at and, I find to be most appealing since the web-site's blue tint projects out due to the perfect light background and almost stable site borders. Another reason that aroused my aesthetic sense is the combination of dark and light blue color for the top menu bar, which is where my vision falls on and compels me to concentrate. I like the way they separated out the items category into a bunch of two rows, which prevents me from getting distracted reading lengthy menu bar.

The web-site logo is prominently placed and its brand name helps to create perceived quality of service. The images of actual pharmacy and the employees creates trustworthiness and enforces feeling at home. The navigation system is well designed to allow easy traverse through various content categories and is fixed throughout the pages. The content is organized so that it covers all in-store departments (Pharmacy, Photo and other departments) and is visible always through the visually appealing navigation bar. The user registration section, the shopping cart and the search are other sections of the web-site which explains themselves at a glance, thus leading to easy usage of those features.


Hilhorst D.P. (April 2004). The Designer Is Dead, Long Live The Designer!. Retrieved from on May, 2008.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Navigation Systems aids us to chart our course, determine our position and find our way back" - While designing good websites

"Navigation Systems aids us to chart our course, determine our position and find our way back"
(The above sentence is quoted from the referred book)

I liked this analogy of a conventional navigation system as related to the web-site navigation systems since it supports the basic user need to browse through information with most satisfaction. The user should be able to know where and how to start navigation to find a particular content and should be informed about which content section he is in and how to get back to the previous section or to the home page or to any section that he desires.

I selected catalog Model A's to reflect on this topic. The web-site's navigation is designed to support the concept of aiding user to traverse through content category, reach a destination, satisfy his information need and then go back wherever he wants to.

I opted to search for a laptop for home usage. The home page navigation is intentionally kept unique to support the basic company mission, what they have to offer, what is available on the web-site and how a user can search for it. Image based links are visually appealing and directs user exactly to the point where his mind wants to search for information. The picture of laptop and its toggling feature easily convey that it is the starting point for my search. The select list that pops up, further allowed me to identify myself and guided me directly to browsable category of all available laptops.

The main section navigation is 100% consistent and fixed across the website. Where ever I am, the main content category and its sub-category items are highlighted by blue background. Breadcrumbs shows me exactly where I am. The web-site offers excellent navigation feature by integrating search and browsing, by keeping the top bar and breadcrumbs unchanged. I can easily switch back and forth between any content category or to the home page, since the whole site navigation is always visible.


Rosenfield L., Moevillee P. (2002). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition. O'Reilly Media

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"When information is stacked in time, it is difficult to understand context and evaluate relationships" - While designing good websites

"When information is stacked in time, it is difficult to understand context and evaluate relationships"
(This is based on a sentence as referred in the article by Tufte)

I would like to expand on this concept and relate it to need for grouping related content together. The idea is simple - Our mind is less trained to correlate information and facts if they are presented in frames which are separated by time or space. Following is my analysis of the three news web-sites based on this concept.

I really appreciate the way yahoo has structured the web-site content and navigation to facilitate human cognitive reasoning. Look at the way the top navigation is designed. The main news category and the sub-news category is always visible to the user and tells him where he is where ever he is. This is useful to create the feeling that he is reading news for that particular category and not a mixed plate. The search feature is designed to support this concept by implementing "browsing leading to search". Another noticeable feature is the way the content is segregated on each main page. For example, on home page, all main news category (text based) are displayed on the left most end of the page, sub-category in the middle and advertisements to the right most end. So, a serious new reader should only concentrate on the left most end of the page and anyone who is interested in ads should focus on the right most end.

NewYork times web-site is driven by the way content is organized on the actual news paper. For a frequent visitor, the content categories and the way it is organized might make sense, but for a non-frequent visitor like me, it looks like all cluttered. There is no separation of content on the home page based on text based items, multimedia or ads. Its like mixed vegetable. You can find anything anywhere and you have to try hard to keep track of related items. The situation is worse when I scrolled down. The same sub-categories on the left menu is repeated and is cluttered with ads. There is no sense of belongingness to a particular news category. For a thinking user like me, it makes really hard to correlate content and seek out for related items.

BBC news, even though looks somewhat similar to NewYork Times in appearance, has made a conscious decision not to clutter information, rather present them in a way that follows clear content organization and no duplication of navigation. The web-site follows constant content organization and navigation throughout the web-site, no matter which main section or sub-section the user is in. Each content type (eg: 'Latest News' (text based), 'Video and Audio News', 'Top Stories', 'Around the World' etc ) has its fixed position on the web page and it is easier to correlate and understand related news items.


Tufte E. (n.d.). PowerPoint Is Evil. Retrieved from on May, 2008.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"..Scent of information.."

"..Scent of information.."
(This is based on a reference sentence as seen in Krug's User experience book)

The above extract from Krug's book caught my attention since often we deal with IA components that ensure scents of useful information while navigating or searching through the web site. The need to keep the user less distracted with meaningless information and ability to provide relevant information for each click is very important.

Lets look at and from the first look, the website targets young audience who likes "cool" and sporty stuff and are driven by constant scent of information where ever they look for. The inherent IA of the website supports this goal and thus the organization schemes, organization structure, labeling, navigation and search systems are designed and tuned accordingly. The eye catching graphics and icon based information organization, navigation and retrieval makes its more appealing to the user who has similar taste. The home page itself supports basic goal of enabling quick understanding of what kind of information is available through the website and how user can assimilate the needed information. The information need may be to support buying decision or it might be to learn the price and features of all scion model cars.

Cool images, animated scroll of cars which supports display of price and feature on mouse over, hierarchy based information organization structure (the top navigation bars) and audience oriented organization scheme (eg: cars - new user, owners- existing users, culture - scion enthusiasts) are well designed to create fresh "scent of information" during each click or mouse over actions. All information is available within less than 3-4 click away. For example, to know the 'performance' information of the 'XB' model, I just need to do 3 mouse moves and one click on the top navigation bar to see the information. The most cool feature is that user is less frustrated with constant page refresh while navigating deeper to find more granular information.

Krug S. (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Integrating searching with browsing" - While designing best websites

This is one of the important aspects of (Information Architecture) IA that directly improves usability of websites by supporting information seeking behavior of users. As I see that this feature most suits e-commerce web-sites that would require extensive product browsing and searching, it won't be as of much use in case of other kind of websites. Since this concept affects the core site navigation, search zone creation and how we organize and display search results, decision should be made during earlier stages of IA design. I shall try to reflect on this topic based on my analysis of two websites - and

TheFoodEmporiumShopOnline has done a nice job in implementing the basic concept of 'searching leads to browsing'. For example, searching for 'meat' gives a list of matching categories (spanning across various departments) to choose from and also list of matching products to browse through and buy. Clicking on a category (say 'Heat and eat') takes the user directly to the related department ('Meat') with the matching products list to browse and buy.

Additional feature that they have provided is to change the sub-query from general 'Heat and eat' -> entries to say 'Heat and eat' --> 'Chicken' by selecting the option from a auto-generated sub-category list. This feature of automatic search-zone creation and linking it to the product browse page (without additional searching) supports the concept of associative learning and positively impacts information seeking behavior of the user.

A few drawbacks that I noticed is that the categories are listed without any reference to the related department and there is no way to get back to the search results.

FreshDirect has made some effort to implement this concept. The same search doesn't directly lead user to the products browse page, but displays all matching global search zones (Recipes, Categories, Products). Selection of the search zone, say 'Deli meat', leads user to the product browse page on the related department.

The sub-categorization of search zone is performed on the initial search display page, so that all available results are displayed. This might drive the user frustrated if he has to search through the list to understand which category really has the products that he is looking for. Also there is no way to come back to the search results if it was a wrong selection.
(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Elements of User Experience"

"Elements of User Experience"

(My reflections on the referred article from Garret)

Garret's presentation of 'Elements of User Experience' touched all vital aspects of web development that can affect user experience. What I liked most is the way the document brings into light how these user elements gets their unique roles in a web-based software interface or in a rudimentary hypertext system (eg: a company web-site). Another unique thing that I noticed is the way Garret distinguishes between Interaction Design and Information Architecture.

Organizational Behavior has its effects on web development during the conception/abstract phase. I think organizational behavior has a tremendous impact on how web development should proceed along with other driving factors such as goals and strategies. I shall reflect this topic based on my experience in implementing and managing web-based e-governance systems.

The stated goal of all these e-governance programs are to make government more transparent and approachable to the citizens by providing various citizen oriented services. Many a times, less focus is given to the original goal of providing an effective citizen oriented service. Sometimes they prefer to offer development projects to their pet company. Since the conceptualization, design and development methods varies for each company and since new government takes rule periodically, the web based systems undergoes re-design starting from visual design and most of the time, goes to the extend of changing the basic Information architecture. This has a major impact on user experience in terms of keeping up with changing/inconsistent designs. The web-site might lose credibility as it appears as a online store to display a party's personal preferences and culture without rationality or goal oriented design and architectures.

Governments often promote their propaganda and advertise their progress in terms of various programs and incentives. This reflect as changing web-site content design, visualization and sometimes as changing web-site objectives and Information Architecture. For example, the new minister wants to display photographs (searchable) of his department's main activities on the web-site and the current web-site does not have a photo-gallery. This calls for change in site's original objective, which is to serve the citizens. Information Architecture needs to be changed since we need to add new section 'Photo Gallery' and appropriate changes need to be made to the navigation and search sub-system. When such internal politics (not party politics, but personal preferences) wants to satisfy their personal interests, the web-site might be looked up on as a mere center to expose personal achievements - This might lead to less user acceptance.


Garrett J.J. (March, 2000). The Elements of User Experience. Retrieved from on May, 2008.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

Web site design rule of thumb - "Your Goal should be for each page to be self explanatory"

"Your Goal should be for each page to be self explanatory" (This is based on my reading from the referred text, my insights, recommendations)

The above sentence from the section on page 18, is the key towards not making users think what each feature/functionality is for. The idea here is to structure and design the web page elements so that they could explain the intended use or functionality by look and feel.

Several examples can be provided that highlight this aspect of effective web-page design. A good example being the concept of a home page. Looking at the home page, the user should be able to understand that it is the home page and should be able to grasp the underlying business or purpose of the organization. A poorly designed web-site's home page might look cluttered with all sorts of information and advertisements that it keeps user thinking about what that page is intended for and what kind of business the company is into. Where as, when we look at the home page of a (just an example, not real world), users could immediately identify that it is the home page where he can explore for more info about the company. The home page would be well designed with distinct sections (identified by related images - eg: Fine Food or Weekly specials or Online shopping etc) telling user that the company specializes in Fine Food and provides online information about its offers and in addition, supports online shopping.

Another example that drives the concept home are the clickable links and buttons, which needs to be easily identifiable as clickable. For example, on some websites, the online shopping cart and the top menu bar items doesn't toggle on mouse over nor does they show alternate text. The user is confused as whether he should click or what is the use of text item. Again, use of the intended 'Go' image is not intuitive since the 'triangle' image denotes a 'play' action.

Yet another example is the page design which conveys the message where the user currently is and how to get back where he was before. On most poorly desinged web-sites, this concept is not well implemented and there is no relation between the sub-menu items and the main-page sections that they denote. would take steps towards implementing this vital aspect of satisfactory user experience. All sections would be easily navigable back and forth and tells the user where he is currently and how to go to other main/sub sections.


Krug S. (2005). Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition.

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

"Practicing Information Arhcitecture in the real word"

"Practicing IA in the real world"
(This is summary of what I read from the referred book and my thoughts, recommendations)

For me, the most satisfying definition for Information Architecture is that it is the 'structural design of shared information environments' and the most satisfying IA deliverable is the blueprint model. The reason why I liked these is because I see that Information Architect's role in the real world, is most expanded to the entire organization and he is responsible for the whole web based enterprise information architecture. According to me, web site is just a part of the global web based enterprise information architecture which consists of various web based information systems and sub-systems. The Information architect should start with the business needs, goals and strategies and then map them into organization information needs (we are considering only web based) to satisfy those goals. He should be able to arrive at effective organization wide Information Architecture that satisfies all current information needs,content management needs and that integrates all existing web based systems. The blueprints that he develops should drive the design and development of all organization wide intranet/internet based web sites and applications.

The major difference between good and bad web-sites is based on effective structuring, organization and design of content, context and user experience. The major flaw in a poorly designed web-site is that there is poor organization of content, poor facilitation of user's information seeking behavior (making him think more of what to do next or where to go to get a particular info) and lack of projection of organization goals and objectives. Well designed web-sites stands good in all these three aspects of efficient Information Architecture backbone.

For example, take the case of It is a classic example of how well a company web-site can be designed and developed. The mission of the web-site is to enable the user to learn more about Genetech's Corporate information, its business and its success in various areas of biotechnology R&D. By use of excellent information organization, consistent and user-friendly navigation and self-explanatory web-page features (images, content categories, clickable links, summary home pages for each main section with intuitive information presentation) has been successful in meeting its mission by providing most high quality user experience. Each main section ( eg: 'About Us', 'Research' and 'Development') is carefully organized and sub-categorized into relevant sub-sections that provide immense information about the company.

The site is designed for the whole world of users who might be interested in : - learning more about a top rated biotechnology company or just a successful R&D company (exploratory) - learning specifically about Genetech (known-item) - job seekers in the biotechnology industry (exploratory) - learning more about latest developments in biotechnology, specifically in immunology (exhaustive)

The web-site organization and labeling leads to least time spent in thinking what each item/feature would do. The site navigation via the pull down top menu bar is consistent and user-friendly. The only drawback that I notice is the vertical scroll in all first pages of main sections, due to the huge images. This would make the user feel that there is no content below it, unless he scrolls down.

The site functions as the core medium to advertise itself to the broad audience as identified above. In addition to this, the web-site functions as a marketing medium to market its R&D, technology expertise and products. Another major role played by web-site is to meet company standards to have an effective web presence and attract productive work professionals and investors. Overall, the web-site effectively considers context, content and users towards building a robust Information Architecture.

Rosenfield L., Moevillee P. (2002). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition. O'Reilly Media

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2004-2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

UML example

UML or Unified modelling language is the best tool for modelling object oriented systems. As we know, in objet oriented modelling and design, we identify objects (entities)within the system and analyze how they interact with each other and thus design an interactive model preserving their individual properties, behavior as well as publicizing their public attributes and behaviors. The interaction of objects is of importance rather than just mere data flow as in traditional system development. Object oriented systems supports encapsulation and protection of data and behaviors, better code maintainability and reusability.

Below is an example UML, which is actually a class diagram for a simple customer appointment model -

Below is an Activity Diagram for Making a customer appointment:

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2006
Related websites --

ERD examples

ERD or Entity relationship diagram is the most common database design and modelling tool used in System Design phase. The diagram basically represents all data entities of the targeted system, their attributes and relationships. Database modeller represents ERD in various levels of details such as Context Data Model, Key based model and Fully attributed model. Fully attributed model could be used as the blueprint logical model for implementing the physical database design. Below are some sample ERDs for an IT shop that provide service for its client -

Entity Definition (This is developed first prior to any modelling):

Context Data Model:

Key Based Model:

Fully Attributed Model:

DFDs example

Data Flow Diagram is the widely used system design tool which aids in depicting flow of logic and data (commonly called process flow) within the targeted system, in various levels of detail. Level 0 DFD is usually called 'Context Diagram' and it gives the highest level view. Starting from the black box in Context Diagram, we explode out into further detail as level 1 and level 2 DFDs. We combine detailed DFDs (also called primitive diagram) of various system components and create the System Diagram (are actually considered as level 1 data flows since they show flows at a much higher level). An event decomposition diagram (EDD) is usually drawn after context diagram, to identify major system functionalities as a hierarchical diagram. It is generally considered as a level 1 data flow. Below is the depiction of sample Context Diagram, EDD, DFD and system diagram. The designed system is a typical IT call management system, which is titled here as CTTS.

Context Diagram:

Even Decomposition Diagram:

Detailed DFD (Primitive Diagram for Service Request Function):

System Diagram (Collection of detailed DFDs representing a whole system):

(c) Deepesh Joseph, 2006
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