Week 8

 

 

Information Arch. Ch. 17 &18:

 

IA Chapter 17: “Making the case for information architecture”-Information architects must be prepared to sell the benefits of their services. For people (managers/ decision makers) who like numbers and Return On Investment (ROI) arguments, you can pose your case in terms of numbers. For example:

  • Time lost because of design flaw = 10 sec./occurrence
  • Time lost per year per employee (10 sec./occurrence x 3 occurrences/day x 200 days/year) = 6000 sec. (1.67 hrs)/year
  • Cost per employee ($50/hr/employee) = $83.33/employee
  • Number of employees experiencing this problem = 5000
  • Total cost of design flaw to company = $416,667/ year
  • If it costs $150,000 for the information architect to fix this problem their ROI = 178% ($416,667 – $150,000/ $150,000).

 

However, most benefits of IA cannot be quantified and those attempts to quantify benefits usually can’t be validated.

 

Story telling is another method to demonstrate IA benefits. Tell a story that the manager or person you are trying to convince can identify with. Ideally a situation in which someone finds themselves in a painful information situation and then you can explain how IA can solve the problem.

 

Information architects must find their potential client’s pain-what problem hurts or bothers them the most-and demonstrate how IA can help. A lot of the time people don’t have the vocabulary to explain their information problems. Providing a set of concepts and terms can help someone explain the nature of their problem. Morville and Rosenfeld (2006) provide a checklist of points to consider when selling the value of IA:

  • Reduces the cost of finding information
  • Reduces the cost of finding wrong information
  • Reduces the cost of not finding information at all
  • Provides a competitive advantage
  • Increases product awareness
  • Increases sales
  • Makes using a site a more enjoyable experience
  • Improves brand loyalty
  • Reduces reliance upon documentation
  • Reduces maintenance costs
  • Reduces training costs
  • Reduces staff turnover
  • Reduces organizational upheaval
  • Reduces organizational politicking
  • Improves knowledge sharing
  • Reduces duplication of effort
  • Solidifies business strategy

(pp. 376-377)

 

 

IA Chapter 18: “Business Strategy”-Business strategy is similar in many ways to IA and the two fields are becoming quite important to each other. Business strategy drives the design and informs the practice of IA. IA infuses innovation and exposes the gaps in the business strategy.

 

Information architects must find out what strategies the organizations we design for are pursuing. It is helpful to ask some probing questions such as the ones Morville and Rosenfeld (2006, p. 381) point out.

  • What is your company really good at?
  • What is your company really bad at?
  • What makes your company different from your competitors?
  • How are you able to beat competitors?
  • How can your website or intranet contribute to competitive advantage?

 

Sometimes the gaps exposed by IA teams are fixable and other times they are huge and indicate a failing organization.

 

SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis is one way to model business strategy. The internal capabilities (strengths and weaknesses) are informed by the external environments (opportunities and threats). There are many other business schools of thought for forming business strategies.

 

IA also has a short history of different approaches. Older ideas included a centralized, top-down approach which tried to create a stable solution with careful planning. This has been changing to a more bottom-up approach which focuses on emergent and adaptive solutions.

 

Much of the strength of IA is hidden from view. Most people only see and focus on the interface of an information system. But in order to design a great interface that works well and is adaptive, information architects work invisibly on a number of different things:

 

Wire frames, blue prints

Metadata, classification schemes, thesauri

Information architecture strategies, project plans

Users:

needs, behaviors

Content:

 structure, meaning

Context:

culture technology

 

All of these hidden practices are what make the visible interface succeed.

 

Websites reviewed:

 

Google Pack http://pack.google.com/intl/en/pack_installer.html?hl=en&gl=us&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-google&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=free%20software

Free Software Foundation http://www.fsf.org/

Freeware Files http://www.freewarefiles.com/

Free-Soft.org http://www.free-soft.org/

 

 

Google Pack http://pack.google.com/intl/en/pack_installer.html?hl=en&gl=us&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-google&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=free%20software

 

Google Pack is a set of software programs selected by Google to add features to a user’s computer. All of the programs are free (they aren’t trial versions) and the user can select all or only some of the programs she or he wants. The programs range from virus protection, internet toolbars, screen savers and photo editors including:

  • Google Earth-provides maps and driving directions and allows one to go from a satellite space view to street level views.
  • Norton Security Scan-free software to find and destroy computer viruses and worms
  • Google Desktop-Organizes files, email, and web history in a convenient sidebar.
  • Picasa-photo editing software to remove red eye and resize and share photos.
  • Mozilla Firefox with Google toolbar-a popular web browser with tabbed browsing.
  • Adobe reader-software to allow PDF files to be viewed and printed.

 

Google offers some advanced or professional versions of some of the software for a price. The main page is quite user friendly with short explanations of the products and an option for users to eliminate software they don’t want.

 

Free Software Foundation http://www.fsf.org/

 

Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985 in Boston and has as its mission to defend everyone’s right to free software and to promote the freedom of computer users.  By free software they mean free as in freedom not necessarily free as in costs nothing. Free software allows the user to share it with others, to study it and its code, and to modify it and share the modifications with others. GNU Operating System is a free software program that started as an alternative to UNIX. FSF sponsors the GNU project and offers a directory (FSF/UNESCO free software directory http://directory.fsf.org/ ) which lists over 5,000 different programs.

 

Freeware Files http://www.freewarefiles.com/

 

Freeware Files is a resource for people to find free software. There are links for articles and free clip art, as well as links to submit software. Users can search for new files, most popular, free content, etc. There is also a category menu listing topics (e.g. Games) and subtopics (Action, Card, Strategy…) that users can choose from. The featured software when I viewed it was Blender 2.48. Blender is open source software for 3D modeling and animation.

 

This site seems quite user friendly and offers easy access to a number of different categories of software and articles about freeware. It seems much easier to navigate than Free Software Foundation’s site.

 

 

Free-Soft.org http://www.free-soft.org/

 

Free-Soft is another open source software site. It also explains the meaning of free software -freely modifiable and redistributable software as opposed to no-cost software. They have a table which provides examples of free software including GNU, Perl, Mozilla, MySQL, etc. This site also talks about some of the important people in the history of open source software such as Richard Stallman who was the founder of Free Software Foundation and Linus Torvalds who was instrumental in developing and maintaining Linux.

 

Free-soft also adds these links for free software:

 

 

Under the heading for literature they offer some papers by Stallman and by Eric Raymond. There are also links for Free Software Magazine but they seem to be from 2002.

 

 

Week 8 references:

 

Morville, P., & Rosenfeld, L. (2006). Information architecture for the world wide web (3rd ed.). Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.

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