Archive for the 'Content Centred Design' Category

Content Centred Design – A methodology (Part 2)

July 13, 2010

In Part 1 I discussed the importance of considering content during the whole of the design process and the need to give it the same weight that the user through UCD/UX currently receives in most web projects. So how might this be accomplished?

I recognize that all web projects are unique is some way and any approach has to be tailored, so in this post I’m going to provide a fairly high level methodology, a methodology however that gives users and content the same emphasis. It has now become the norm that the needs and wants of users are considered at every stage of a project. I want content to have the same recognition.

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Content Centred Design for websites – an overview (Part 1)

June 20, 2010

This post is about content and how it should be recognized as a major player in any web design or intranet project. I have written about the concept of content centred design before and how online versions of hard copy content objects can lead to a much diminished user experience. I used the online dictionary as an example of this.

I wrote then that –

‘Content must be viewed as a stakeholder’

‘content has a structure and a purpose which is independent of the user or web designer’

Nothing I have seen in the time since I wrote the above has changed my mind. Content must be considered as important a stakeholder in the design process as the user in order to ensure a balanced, rational approach to any web design project. By ignoring this fact designers and web teams are overlooking an essential element that would contribute to a better final product.  By either ignoring content, or leaving any consideration to near the end of a project, the final design has a high likelihood of being sub-optimal.

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Content Value Analysis for Intranets Part 2 – A methodology

October 8, 2008

content2I’ve written before on an approach called Content Value Analysis (CVA) and I’ve now produced the detail of how this might be done in practice. Chiara Fox of Adaptive Path in her presentation on Content Analysis came closest to this approach when she talked about Content Audits at Euro IA 2008.

However there is a crucial difference between our approaches – the use of statistical techniques and documented heuristics. No don’t reach for that mouse yet! What I’m suggesting is not difficult, will give great substance to your final analysis and will probably save you a lot of work.

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Content value analysis for intranets

September 14, 2008

It might go something like this –

– Sampling would have to represent a fair percentage of the content and samples would have to be taken from several areas of a site or sub-site. Areas must be selected without bias. In an intranet with 1,000 pages a fair sample might be at a minimum 5%, that is 50 pages, or you could use statistical tables for sample sizes.

– Each page would be examined and scored for its value against a set of heuristics e.g. if content is obsolete, outside of a review date, incorrect, incomplete or irrelevant the score would be 0. If there is some value on the page it could be marked as 0.5 and if the page content generally has value the score would be 1. Perhaps screen dumps of representative non-value adding pages might form part of a results document. 

– The scores would then be aggregated and presented as a percentage e.g. if after appraisal of our sample 50 pages the score is 28.5, then we could present the site as providing only 57% of the possible content value to its users

This might encourage content owners to improve their scores by ensuring that non-value adding pages are deleted, reviewed or that good content is added. I think that the trick in making this approach work will be in defining the heuristics and finding a way of removing any bias from the sample.

Using this approach (I call it ‘Content Value Analysis’ as it has to be called something) it should be possible to benchmark sites and parts of sites against each other by using the same heuristics and, if done periodically, to chart improvement trends in the value a site offers its users.

Hopefully this approach will provide intranet managers with a tool that allows them to assess content in a structured way, produce a number that will accurately reflect the state of the content within the site evaluated and then to repeat the process over time to ensure that the intranet is going in the right direction – towards the lean intranet. Results can then be presented graphically as bar charts or graphs – a form of information that most senior managers are comfortable with and understand.

For a more complete description of the methodology see Part 2

Content Centred Design

June 16, 2008

I write about content centred design in my article as it applies to content sets such as ISO management system standards in intranets. Content is what an intranet should be all about. Intranets should be honest, minimalist systems for connecting users and content without the flim-flam you can encounter in some internet sites. Content must be current, relevant and complete, thats a given, but there is more. Content must be viewed as a stakeholder.

Content has been developed by a human to speak to other humans therefore it must be recognised that content has a structure and a purpose which is independent of the user or web designer. This fact is probably more obvious when you are looking at intranet design as an organisation’s policies, procedures, guidance, technical information etc are obviously valuable company assets. I’ve been thinking as to whether this is also the case in the larger world of web design and the internet.

There is a striking case where web design has run roughshod over the structure and purpose of content and that is in online dictionaries. Dr. Johnson’s dictionary of 1755 was an alphabetical dictionary.  The structure of the content allowed users to access entries so long as they knew the first letter or couple of letters. Most of the online dictionaries I have seen have disregarded this aspect altogether and consist of a simple search box with lots of adverts. While the search box is fine if you know the word and its exact spelling, it is absolutely useless in other cases.

If I wanted to know that word that begins ‘per’ and means a way of looking at things, how does a search box help me find the word ‘perspective’? The alphabetical dictionary has been around for a long time and with good reason – it works. Any design of an online dictionary that ignores this fact makes for a poorer user experience. As well as a search box there should always be the option to view the content in the way it was originally structured – alphabetically.

But if I’m honest opening up a dictionary at a random page and reading down a list of words connected only by the fact that they happen to have some of the same letters is a real pleasure for me. It is serendipity in action when you find a new and beautiful word. Unfortunately a pleasure denied me and others by most online versions of the dictionary.