Information Design Watch
May 23, 2007, 2:09 pm
By Henry Woodbury
For all our focus on diagrams, sometimes illustration is the best explanation.
May 10, 2007, 9:09 pm
By Mac McBurney
Discussion of the pros and cons will have to wait for another day. Until then, here are two more hyperbolic tree visualization examples:
Tell us what you think.
May 10, 2007, 8:32 pm
By Mac McBurney
Our collaboration with the University of St Andrews was an important reminder about organizations and their information: Good information architecture is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Copious, heterogeneous, complex information tends to come from organizations of similar description, so improving the web site–especially the public web site–means getting intimate with the culture and politics of the organization.
Luckily, our colleagues at St Andrews understood their new information architecture as a process, not an event. They involved people from across the university, took the time to understand the reasons behind our recommendations, and called on us to help educate stakeholders about our plans. The project was part town meeting, part information architecture crash course, not to mention figuring out where to put all those web pages.
Structurally, the relaunched web site is a radical departure from the old. (The 404 error page gives a hint.) Previously, the university’s many administrative offices had each looked after their own presence on the web, and the site became–for good and understandable reasons–a daunting, overgrown web-site-as-org-chart. The new information architecture makes two important changes. First, the site represents the character and vitality of the institution as a whole, not just the individual parts. Second, no prior knowledge of the university’s bureaucracy is required. Content is organized according to its audience, not its author. The home page and its subsidiaries are tailored for outside audiences and infrequent visitors. Alternate home pages, a completely separate system of categories, and different navigation and interface designs are provided for current students and staff.
To see photos of a sunny day in Scotland and read about our presentation last June (and other tales) from someone on the client’s side, check out Gareth Saunders’ personal blog, View from the Potting Shed.
May 4, 2007, 9:20 am
By Lisa Agustin
During last month’s hearing on the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales just couldn’t seem to produce the proof needed to convince the Senate Judiciary Committee that the dismissals were anything but politically motivated. In contrast, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) managed to put together some convincing evidence in the form of a chart detailing the protocol for contact between the Bush White House and the Department of Justice. According to Slate magazine’s Dahlia Lithwick:
One of the finest moments comes when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of R.I., busts out a big, big chart. Which happens after almost everyone has gone home. The chart compares the Clinton protocol for appropriate contacts between the White House and the DoJ on pending criminal cases with the Bush protocol. According to Whitehouse, the Clinton protocol authorized just four folks at the White House to chat with three folks at Justice. The chart had four boxes talking to three boxes. Out comes the Bush protocol, and now 417 different people at the White House have contacts about pending criminal cases with 30-some people at Justice. You can just see zillions of small boxes nattering back and forth. It seems that just about everyone in the White House, including the guys in the mailroom, had a vote on ongoing criminal matters.
See Senator Whitehouse’s presentation of the chart on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iibnQfK-2ho