UI10 – Task-Based Information Architecture Design

Gerry McGovern will soon be talking to us for the next 8 hours.

Top 5 (will explain later)

  1. Simplicity
  2. Design for community
  3. Migrate to web standards like CSS
  4. Less is more approach
  5. Simpler applications

Now doing around the room with 150 people. Oy Vey. Speaking of Oy Vey, Happy New Year if you are Jewish. And even if you are not. Good luck with fasting.

Now Gerry is talking about how he used to smoke dope. An image of a joint is on the screen. Off to a good start. He is talking about how Pioneer uses the word “dealer” on their site. So he sent them an email asking for the finest Moroccan Hashish. He got a call within 15 minutes from someone in Japan. Pioneer explained to him that it was their language. He got them to change the link to “Buy – Shop Locator” and they had a 30% increase in sales within a month of the change. A little story on the importance of proper taxonomy. And by proper I mean the language of your primary users. In Pioneer’s case: people who wanted to buy their products.

“The choice of words is incredibly important.” “Words are our bricks.” “You have got to be the leader in the space [generally speaking about the web] because your boss can’t be the leader.” Our bosses “didn’t graduate 20 years ago with degrees related to web design, so you have to have the strategy and vision.” And then pass it up the chain so they (the bosses) can have “a great idea on strategy!” and all will be well with the world. :)

“Low transactions are often done more efficiently in a manual environment. High transactions are often handled more efficiently in self-service environment.” Take away: not all your company’s processes and activities need to be put into web app form. He’s using Aerlingus.com as a good example of this. The CEO (a new one as of 4 years ago) came in and said, “The web is the business” and made everyone focus on the booking process on the site. That’s where the money comes from so optimize it as much as possible. Look to the core of what you offer and make that work first.

Aerlingus error

The above shows me that while they have increased sales and got the company in a better position, they still need to look at other scenarios when I select “flexible dates.” If it is flexible dates, why error me? Just curious.

“Computer language in general is very cold and impersonal.” “User comes from that pool of language that that puts distance between people.” “User is a meaningless word.” “There’s no sense of the main thing that is happening on the web.” “If you understand reading behaviour, you understand an awful lot about success on the web.” “We’ve got dealers, users, traffic and hit. Enough of the drug fascination!”

“What are the Trains, Tickets, and Toilets of your web site?” Again talking about focusing on the core of what you offer on your site. In a train station you need to find 3 main things. What are the main things, or better yet thing, of your site and focus on that. Screw erroring for people who raise their arms on Tuesday while wearing red and clicking a button while a page is loading for a section of your site that no one ever goes to anyway.

Killer web content: focus on (in order) Readers, Tasks, Carewords (language of the readers).

“We would never load our ass like we load our web sites.” Ass in this case would be along the lines of a donkey, burro, or mule. I think he just likes to say ass in front of 150 people. The point is that more doesn’t equal better. “Glut is the problem in the digital economy, not scarcity as it is in an industrial economy.”

“Every time you add a minor task you disrupt the ability to focus on the major task.”

“The Hippie period of the web is over. We’re no in the process of early maturity.” Yikes! Is he talking about Web 2.0 without saying Web 2.0? Shouldn’t he get fined by someone or something? He is asking if you spend more time reviewing your content (for many things) or publishing? He recommends spending more time reviewing and less time publishing so you don’t overload your ass. Not arse, ass. He’s Irish remember?

“Publish a web site you can manage.” “Most web sites are not managed, they are administered.”

Four things need to be done right: Metadata and Classification, Navigation, Search, and Layout and Design. “Infrastructure and architecture get you to the page. What wins you the game is content.”

“We need to get to a point where the layout becomes invisible.” Connect metadata with helping people find content faster. What do you want your content to do? How does the metadata help communicate what the content does or what the reader wants to do? Get the (he said user) from searching to finding.

“A good content creator researches how the users are searching. It significantly increases your ability to be found (well, your content).” He’s talking SEO basically.

overture, google adwords, wordtracker.com

Carewords: “The words we choose to use are incredibly important to our success.” Talked about how Don Norman’s book sales went way up when the title was changed from “The Psychology of Everyday” things to “The design of Everyday Things.” Because the book was being shelved in the Psychology section even though it was a design book. “Often what words we use to search are not words we want to see on the page.” His case in point is that “cheap tickets” and “low airfare” mean essentially the same thing. 6k people search on “low fare” and 4mill search on “cheap tickets,” but you can bet most sites don’t think of their product as cheap. Well, cheaptickets.com does.

“Iconography has very weak communicating power.”

Ha! Great! We are about to do an exercise. He is giving incentive to win 100$ if we classify the terms of the exercise in the same way that 40 other workshops across 15 countries (about 2k people) have, on average, also picked. If our table picks the top 10 that on average is what is always picked, we get to share 100$. And I forgot to bring my book for the session so I am out of the running for my cut of 20$. :( Darn. Don’t think I could accept it anyway.