Exercise 2 – The Anatomy of Information Architecture

1. What are some common questions a user has upon landing on a page on a web site?
Common questions a user may have include; Where am I? I know what I’m looking for, how do I search it? How do I navigate around this site? And what’s available on the site?

2. Explain the differences between “Top-Down IA” and “Bottom-Up IA”. Why is Bottom-Up IA becoming increasingly important?
Top-Down IA focuses on the user’s primary information needs, whilst Bottom-Up IA focuses on the information architecture within the content.

 3. Describe the following browsing aids, and provide a screenshot of an example of each browsing aid:

  • Site-wide navigation system – primary system that helps users understand where they are and where they can go within a site (breadcrumbs)
  • Local navigation system – primary system that helps users understand where they are and where they can go within a section of a site
  • Sitemap/table of contents – navigation system that supplement primary navigation systems. Sitemaps provide a overview of the links to major content areas and sub-sections
  • Site indices – secondary navigation systems that provide alphabetised list of links to the contents of the site
  • Site guides – supplementary navigation systems that provide specialised information on a specific topic, as well as links to a related subset of the sites content
  • Site wizards – supplementary navigation systems that guide users through sequential set of steps
  • Contextual navigation system – links presented to related content. Frequently embedded in texts, and generally used to connect highly specialised content within a site

4. Describe the following search aids:

  • Search interface – provide a screenshot of an example. – the means of entering and revising a search query, typically with information on how to improve your query, or other ways to alter your search
  • Query language – list some Boolean operators and provide examples of queries using these operators – the grammar of a search query. Boolean operators include words AND, OR, NOT or AND NOT. These words are used as conjunctions to join or eliminate keywords in a query. Boolean operators can be used in queries to increase and specify search results. For example, the NOT operator indicates that a specific search should not be returned.
    • Query builder – ways of enhancing a query’s performance; examples include spell checkers, stemming, concept search and synonyms from a thesaurus
    • Retrieval algorithm – part of the search engine that determines which content matches a user’s query
  • Search zones – subset of site content that have been separately indexed to support precise searches
  • Search results – results of content that matches the user’s search query

 5. Describe the importance of the following IA components that are embedded in content and tasks:

  • Headings – primary labels for the content that comes after it
  • Embedded links – links within text which represent the content they link to
  • Embedded metadata – information that can be used as metadata but must first be taken out
  • Chunks – logical units of content that can vary in granularity can can be nested
  • Sequential aids – clues that suggest where the user is in a process or task, and how far they have to go before completing it
  • Identifiers – clues that suggest where the user is in an information system/breadcrumb, explaining where in the site they are

 6. What is meant by “invisible components” in IA? Describe two examples of invisible components in IA.
Invisible components are architectural components that are present in the background, whereby interaction with these components by users is seldom. Retrieval algorithm and best bets are 2 examples of invisible components.

  • Retrieval algorithms – used to rank search results in order of relevance. This is dependent on retrieval algorithms which reflects the programmers judgements to determine relevance
  • Best bets – are the preferred search results that are manually joined with a search query

 7. List some of the difficulties with organising information.
Some difficulties that exist with organising information include subjectivity and politics. Subjectivity bodes a difficulty as information in a system may be subject to biasness. This can be resulted from the creator’s perspective. Political perspectives poses difficult as politics raise the complexity and difficulty of creating usable information architecture.

 8. What is meant by the term “taxonomy”?
Taxonomy refers to the classification of content in a systematic order.

 9. Why is hierarchy a natural way for humans to organise information? List some design rules when designing a hierarchical organisation scheme.
Organising information and content in a hierarchical manner serves many benefits. It places an emphasises on the importance of information, hierarchy stimulates

 10. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of a hyper textual organisation structure.

11. What is social classification?

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