November 2008 Archives

The Real Information Architect

This entertaining presentation by Gail Leija is one of the best (and most fun) overviews of information architecture that I've seen in a while.

And, to learn a little more about the real IA behind the PPT, it's also worth watching this auto biography (my life as told by my cars).

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Web Style Guide

The 3rd edition of the Web Style Guide is here ahead of schedule.

Web Style Guide

And since the authors haven't yet had time to make the whole text available online, here's the foreword (which I had the distinct pleasure of writing).

Once upon a time, there was a pig named Wilbur. What? Did you expect a line on design or a word about the web? Or would you prefer a simile, a figurative yet sincere invocation of kinship with The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White?

It's true, this book has style. And it covers all the elements from css and typography to html and the structure of prose. But, if we focus too narrowly on the conjunction and the comma, we may lose sight of the composition.

So let's return to the runt who becomes "some pig" thanks to the writing in Charlotte's Web. Wilbur and his spider friend, Charlotte, teach us about loyalty and friendship in a way that touches all readers, young and old.

In similar fashion, Web Style Guide delivers value and meaning to seemingly disparate audiences, from the student prodigy who would be webmaster to the grizzled veteran information architect who's been there and organized that.

For the beginner, this book teaches the fundamentals of interface design, information architecture, and usability without unnecessary complexity or jargon. It's the clearest, most practical guide to Web design you'll find.

Experts will savor this book differently. In an age of specialization, we often get stuck in a rut. Web Style Guide invites us once again to see the whole and to learn the latest techniques from related disciplines and communities of practice.

But this book is more than a manual. It speaks not only to what we do but why. Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton inspire us to strive for universal usability. And because not everyone can enjoy the beautiful images and typography of the printed work, the authors walk the talk by sharing an accessible version of Web Style Guide online, for free.

After all, concern for people lies at the heart of design. We lift ourselves up by helping others. As Charlotte explained to Wilbur at the end of her story, "I wove my webs for you because I liked you." Isn't that our story, too?

During World Usability Day, Sarah gave me the book, fresh off the press. It was the perfect context in which to receive my copy. Are you ready for yours?

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World Usability Day

I haven't quite recovered from my European travels, but tomorrow I leave for Landmark College to participate in World Usability Day New England.


My secret plan is to have the event name changed to World Findability Day. Should be fun! But, if you can't make it to beautiful Vermont this time around, check out the World Usability Day Event Map for a happening near you.

Strange Connections

Both Vegard Sandvold's Concept Composition with Faceted Search and Mike Kuniavsky's Ubicomp User Experience Design are worth a read.

Yet another inspiring talk from Bruce Sterling. Best glimpse of tomorrow now? The Caryatids are coming. The Internet of Things will never be the same.

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