Peter Morville @ NASIG

Liveblogging Peter Morville keynote at NASIG

Information Architecture – Combination of organization, labeling, search, navigation – art + science.  Can learn from related fields like HCI but not sufficient. Still emerging discipline.  Done by many people who don’t know the term.

3 common lessons for many of his clients:

  • Multiple ways to find the same information. (e.g. Stanford Academic Programs page)
  • Bubbling up information by surfacing sample subcategories… increasing scent of information
  • Organization systems and taxonomies for a particular audience – one size doesn’t fit all

Showing Jesse James Garrett (?) Elements of User Experience diagram – many different elements and types of professionals – visual design, interaction, functional specs, etc.

Morville’s honeycomb diagram – he got sick of word usability. Clients say they want their site to be more “usable” – what does that mean? it’s become conflated with quality.  So – what does it mean?

valuable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, usable, useful

Still need to do user testing, but can’t stop there.

Desirability – Don Norman’s work showing attractive things work better – make people happy – happy people work better. 🙂

Findability – Can users find our website? Can they find their way around? Can they find our products and services despite our website

Accessibility – people coming in with alternate devices besides big desktop

Credibility – visual design affects credibility

Example – cancer.gov redesign: wanted to reduce clicks to get to needed information. vast majority of users citizens recently diagnosed and their friends, family. multiple cancer-type homepages, want to get people to them. assumed people were finding their site to begin with, #1 site for query “cancer” but searches on specific cancer types led to other sites. needed to focus on getting to the site to begin with, in addition to navigation of site itself.

Shifting to the future… how do we position ourselves, our careers, for the future. what trends should inform the work we are doing now?

Moving into a mobile age. Intersection of internet and ubiquitous computing. Ambient findability: ability to find anything anywhere at anytime.

From books chained to desks to drowning in information.

He’s working on a new book on search.

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate Economist

When we can pick and choose our information sources how does this affect the way we learn? Ambient Devices company: Ambient Orb, Ambient Pinwheel.

Going way beyond even smart phones to devices that are internet enabled. Recommends book “The Transparent Society”

How do we create bigger needles for our haystacks? Skeptical of AI and information visualization. Metadata? Tagging? Shouldn’t be forced to choose between controlled metadata and tagging. Cites Etsy as good example of both. “Doing it right” – evolve taxonomy based on tagging.

Future of findability: 5-10 years still start with keyword search. Still need to worry about browsing, navigation, because search is the early stage. move between modes of search and browse. search is a complex adaptive system. how to improve? not just about the software. careful thought about users and their needs. need to help not just get started but help when they get stuck.

Library of search patterns on Flickr, also working on behavior patterns. “Pearl growing” – finding one relevant doc and using its metadata to find other things. how do we help users do that? Best bets, users also used….  Metasearch, federated search, need to continue trying to solve the problem of search across sources and types. Example: worked with CSA on Illumina for better interface for most users. (AB: wow, i forgot how bad the old CSA interface was)

Faceted navigation. Allows people to formulate very sophisticated boolean queries in an easy way. Provides a customized map of their results and helps them understand the information space better. NCSU has shared a lot of their research they did to get their faceted navigation interface. VW has nice and attractive site with faceted navigation.

Social search. adds lots of relevant data to the pool of metadata to increase relevant hits.

More examples of interesting search interfaces.

“Conspicuous experience” – sharing information on, for example, running history.

Recommended reading – couldn’t get all these but slides are on his website

Passing Time with the AADL Catalog

I’m in the Atlanta airport for a good while, waiting for my flight to San Antonio for Open Repositories, so I shelled out for wifi access. And now that I have, I’m going to find things to do online until the last possible minute or until my battery dies!

One good way to pass time online today is to head over to the Ann Arbor District Library’s fabulous catalog, which is newly enhanced with the ability to tag, review, and more. John Blyberg describes his work on the development here. Be sure to look at the catalog cards, too, if you haven’t yet, and at their website in general, which won LAMA’s 2006 Best in Show award for library websites in its budget category.

Signing up, Signing in, and Searching

I finally started cataloging my books on LibraryThing over the holiday break. Two things struck me immediately.

1. Library Thing is better than any other website I have ever used. Why?

Create an account or
Sign into your account (this is the only step)

The sign-up process is identical to the sign-in process! What a concept! Reason enough to upgrade to a paid account and support them! No e-mail address, no birthday, real name, state of residence, areas of interest, name of pet, or favorite color! I’m way over my personal quota for exclamation points. The only hitch in the sign-up proceedings was me pausing to read the text several times and thinking, “yeah, right, I wonder what will happen once I click submit.”

Of course, once you have an account, you can provide more information, including an e-mail address, which, as LT points out, may be useful if you forget your password.

2. On a more sobering note, there is no comparison between the search results for the two most prominent data sources in LibraryThing, Amazon and LC. Search for 1984 and 8 of the first 10 Amazon results are for the book by George Orwell (the other two are for Cliffs and Spark Notes). Even after viewing complete information for the first 10 LC results, I couldn’t always figure out why the item made the list. There was nothing by George Orwell on the first page. At the other end of the spectrum, a search on “lear nonsense” (without the quotes) brings up a relevant but solitary result in the LC catalog, while Amazon’s first 10 results are all–surprise!–Edward Lear’s nonsense poems and drawings. Guess which source I try first?

User Experience and Choice

One of my favorite blogs right now is Creating Passionate Users, by authors of O’Reilly’s Head First series.

Yesterday’s post led me to Choice = Headaches at the blog Joel on Software. The entry is about the obscene number of ways to turn off a Windows Vista machine (up to 15 by Joel’s count), but it’s really about interface design, user experience, and choice, and there is a lot in there that we librarians would be wise to take to heart.