Thursday, July 07, 2016

A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer

5 Different Methods to Analyze

Exploring the Data

Immerse yourself in the data and explore it a little. This gives you a feel for the type of information you have and the very high-level patterns. You can create a spreadsheet with columns source, tag, comment and frequency. Each row is an independent idea that you want to look at individually. Look at how people describe similar needs and whether there is consistency between sources.

Term Analysis

Term analysis is a technique used to learn about terminology and understand how people describe ideas. Choose something you want to know about and use your research notes to see how they describe it. Look for:
  • Words used to describe a concept
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Related concepts
  • Broader and narrower terms
  • Concepts frequently mentioned together
The outcomes from this analysis can help you understand how people describe their information needs. It is also use for labeling navigation.

Affinity Diagramming

  1. Why does this happen?
  2. What is the underlying idea of this group of notes?
  3. What is important about this group of notes?

How People Think About Categories

I want to know more about X. It's better to arrange content around topics than around tasks or audiences.

People think at different levels of a hierarchy depending on their experience and knowledge about the topic. Domain experts think at a more detailed level than people who use their information. Aim to bridge the gap between the two.

Content You Need

The content should meet the needs of the people using your site and also achieve your project goals. Figure out what you can maintain with your available resources.

Current Behavior

Use web analytics to identify the most popular content. Check statistics for a long period to include topics that might be popular at different times of the year. Check what happens when new content is added? Does it peak and then never get used again?

Make the most popular content easier to find. Think about why people like this particular content and whether you can create more like it. Think whether you can use it to help people find other things. You can provide links to related content. Poor title can be the reason why good content is not popular. Visit sites like or to see what's popular in your field. Check competitors or similar sites for top articles.

User Research

User research can uncover needs for functional items such as calculators, templates and tools.

Content Brainstorm

User research and business goals can guide you to come up with content ideas.

Competitor Analysis

Check the competitors content and see how well they do it. This can trigger some ideas. It must meet both the needs of your audience and project goals.

Task Based Classification Scheme

Task based scheme works well for web apps when:
  • There are only a small set of tasks
  • The main tasks have clear boundaries
  • Your content is easy to allocate to the task groups
Tasks follow the format: I need to x. I do y.

You can use a range of classification schemes:
  • Time
  • Alphabetic
  • Geography
  • Format
  • Organisational Structure
  • Task
  • Audience
  • Subject or topic
You can also mix them up.

Tagged Pattern

Item is tagged with keywords. The keywords provide access to the content. Useful when people don't know what they are looking for. The tags help people to explore and find related information.

Labels and Language

The words you use must:
  • Call things by their correct name
  • Are consistent
  • Use terminology of the audience
  • Are clear

No comments:

Post a Comment