ORARIAN \ Teaching \ Cabrillo DM 166 Fall 2001  










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DM 166 - Introduction to Information Architecture

An introduction to information architecture, its history, procedures, methodologies, and production process. Students will gain a practical understanding of how an information architect creates and designs information organization schemes and overall Web site structure; including: form, function, metaphor, navigation, interface, interaction, and visual design.

General Course Information below

Schedule & Assignment (subject to change)

Week 1

September 5, 2001

Topics Covered: Brief Introduction to the course; class policies & expectations; late policy for homework; required books overview

Homework: None

Reading: Webmonkey Information Architecure Tutorial (all lessons)


Week 2

September 12, 2001

Topics Covered: Students to introduce themselves; discussion of Webmonkey article; what is IA; the family tree of IA; professional & academic pathways (HCI, LIS, Cognitive Psych); the dance of form and function (uncle Jakob's waltz)

Homework: Find three definitions of Information Architecture (hint: they're probably not in the required texts). They should be different than the ones I refer to in class; one can be your own, but the other two must be referenced (name/author, date, URL or book title)

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 1; Krug Chapter 1

Week 3

September 19, 2001

Topics Covered:Development Team Roles & Responsibilities, Typical Web Development process - a broad overview. Timeline of a development process. Competitive Analysis & Best in Class of chosen Web site. Introduction of Mock Project.

Mock Project Description: You have been hired by a small (2-10 person) Web development company to be the Information Architect for the development of their Web site. The company is looking for projects that span anywhere from $5,000 to $75,000. You can choose the focus of the business, and thus the audience, for this company: be it Silicon Valley tech companies, local non-profits or educational organizations, biotech, etc. Many of the homework assignments for this class will be based around typical IA deliverables for a project of this size.

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Competitive Analysis for mock project - find other companies that provide similar services and see what they do on their web sites. You can begin with the list of companies on the SC-IA web site, which has a link to a much larger list of California Web Dev companies. Write on at least three of these competitors. Some of the samples above will be good starting points for the types of questions you should be asking yourself while doing the homework, as well as structure and style of the deliverable. Please write at least 1/2 page per site , but no more than one page, double-spaced, per competitor.

  • Figure out what kind of audience they are targeting.
  • Are they accomplishing the task of reaching them?
  • What kind of messaging are they using?
  • How does the design, layout, graphics, and copy fail or accomplish the site's communication goals?

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 2

Week 4

September 26, 2001

Topics Covered: Target Audience Analysis; Ethnographic research; samples of Personas

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Build at least two personas/User Profiles for your chosen project. These should be built upon the audiences you identified in your Competitive Analysis work. If you only have one audience identified, remember that the sites you chose might not just be looking for clients, but also for new employees, contractors, or business partners.

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 3; Cooper: Perfecting Your Personas

Week 5

October 3, 2001

Topics Covered: Class cancelled

Homework: None

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 4

Week 6

October 10, 2001

Topics Covered: In-class survey for your instuctor; site mapping & tools (ref. guest lecture notes); Inspiration demo

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Build a site map/architecture of an existing site (be it a site for the Mock project or for any other project - it's best if you do it on a project you have spent some time on, and especially one with some of the other homework applied to it).

Reading: Nielsen's Ten Usability Heuristics; How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation

Week 7

October 17, 2001

Topics Covered: Heuristics and Usability 'standards'; Usability audit and what to look for; in-class walk-through of a site

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Usability Audit of an existing site or ecommerce experience. You can, of course, use a site you have already done a competitive analysis on. When doing the work, you should start with the spreadsheet - walking through the site and noting violations/comments you find. They all don't have to have Nielsen's Heuristics referenced to each one of your violations/comments. You do not have to rank your violations.

I would like to see about two pages of violations, and about two pages single-spaced of recommendations. Please see the samples above.

Shopping experiences you could use:

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 5

Week 8

October 24, 2001

Topics Covered: Intranet Development Guest Lecture; Michael Barnes of The Barnes Group will join us for a lecture on intranet development and will discuss some projects he has worked on.

Homework: None

Reading: Nielsen Chapter 6

Week 9

October 31, 2001

Mid Term written and due by midnight Saturday, November 3

Scott will be in rm 518 (our classroom) 7:15pm - 8:00pm

Homework: None

Reading: None

Week 10

November 7, 2001

Topics Covered: Wire framing; intro to paper prototyping; project samples; content map sample

Homework: Build a wire frame of a page of your chosen site or Web app (please read my email on choosing a page to wire frame). This can be a site you are working for any class, as long as you tell me, in a written paragraph, what the site's purpose is. This is due before class.

Reading: Krug Chapters 6, 7

Week 11

November 14, 2001

Topics Covered: Paper prototyping; review of student's wireframe homework

Homework: Build a complete paper or HTML prototype for your chosen site. Build at least ten to fifteen pages of the site, include elements that will be in the final site, including internal links, FPO images (i.e. For Placement Only - they're not the finals, only place holders), text (mostly greek, but instructions, if needed, may be needed for testing).

Remember: when building your prototype, think about what you're going to test. Are you testing navigational links and their intuitiveness? Do they understand instructional copy? Can they accomlish a specific task? You don't have to choose all of these, but focusing in on your goals will help you focus how much to build out for this prototype.

Reading: Krug Chapters 8, 9

Week 12

November 21, 2001

Topics Covered: Dynamic Content Possibilities Guest Lecture; Geoff Caras, President of The Igneous Group will present and discuss some projects his has worked on. He will show us many possibilities for the use of dynamic content and dynamic web pages.

Homework: None

Reading: Krug Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5

Week 13

November 28, 2001

Topics Covered: User testing - preparation; review of student paper prototypes

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Put together a user testing process/protocol for your prototype -including testing goals, user profiles, scenarios, and testing script. Document the questions you want to ask your users, what order you want them in, etc.

Reading: Krug Chapters 10, 11

Week 14

December 5, 2001

Topics Covered: In-class round(s) of user testing, with most people taking notes, then discuss; We will be splitting up and testing each other's prototypes, using the protocol you wrote up last week

Samples for this evening's class:

Homework: Produce a user testing report based on your observations after conducting three to five user tests with your prototype and testing protocol. This is due before class.

Reading: None

Week 15

December 12, 2001

Topics Covered: User Testing Report presentation and discussion by students

Homework: None

Reading: None

Week 16

December 19, 2001

Final Exam (take home)

No class today. Final is due by Noon, December 20th, no exceptions.

Scott will be in rm 518 (our classroom) 7:40pm - 8:10pm



Instructor & General Information

Instructor: Scott Robinson

Class time: 7:40-9:50pm Wednesdays

Class Web page: http://www.orarian.com/teaching/DM166F01/


Vmail: 831-477-5201 box #1480

Office Hours: 1/2 hour before class & 1/2 hour after class

Syllabus in PDF format (version 1 - 9/4/01)

Grading Policy

20% In-class participation

40% Homework

20% Mid-term

20% Final

I do not grade on a curve. Homework assignments must be electronic and in a portable format if produced in some other application (i.e., if you are delivering electronic files you created in Inspiration or Powerpoint or any other visual application, the file(s) should be delivered to me in PICT, BMP or ideally PDF format, so that I can view them without needing the original application; if they are textual, they must be delivered in PDF). Deliver your files directly to me via email.

Late Assigments: 25% automatic drop in grade if late. I will accept assigments later than 1 week, but only if you let me know.

Remember: presentation is important in all your deliverables.

Required Texts

Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. Jakob Nielsen New Riders Publishing; ISBN: 0789723107

Don't Make Me Think!. Steve Krug New Riders Publishing; ISBN: 156205810X

Recommended Texts

Information Architecture for the Wold Wide Web. Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 1565922824

Web ReDesign: Workflow that Work. Kelly Goto & Emily Cotler New Riders; ISBN: 0735710627

Web Navigation: Designing the User Experience. Jennifer Fleming O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 1565923510

Webworks: Navigation. Ken Coupland, editor Rockport Press; ISBN: 1564966623


© 2001 Scott Robinson | This page last modified December 18, 2001