Archive for the ‘Concept Models’ Category

The Next Web startups

Saturday, April 25th, 2009




Aside from speakers, The Next Web also showcased 19 startups  from an initial list of 200 (though only 18 showed up due to a patent issue). Sun Microsystems sponsored the competition with the eventual winner being presented with a cheque from Netlog.


Holistic concept models: an ROI blueprint

Sunday, November 30th, 2008


process    I read a post recently that illustrated how concept models are rarely used in the right way and are often  misunderstood. Are they really worth doing at all?


Now seems a good  time to expand on the tool that Dan Brown has popularised through his book Communicating Design. Not as simply a stand alone tool but one that can provide a blueprint for giving solid ROI on design, analytics and testing.


User paths for conversion – elements in engagement

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008



clip_image002   This image was shown during Peter Moville’s talk about IA 3.0. What is interesting about it is how he linked this to Christopher Alexander’s text about design in architecture and also Peter Merholz’s essay Metadata for the Masses. In which he highlights ‘desire lines’ how paving is built once you see the paths that people tread.

If we look at online behaviour, user paths give us a solid idea of routes to content, where they return to and where they tend to go next. Human behaviour tends to follow patterns, see this article about mobile phone usage for an example of how predictable we tend to be. (more…)

IA and its changing general dynamics

Thursday, May 1st, 2008


milan   Mathew Milan – The Information Architect and the Fighter Pilot

If you click the image to the left you will go to a response to the presentation by Mathew Milan, that contains the presentation slides with audio and numerous comments from readers beneath it.

From my point of view this was the most thought provoking of the presentations because it touches on elements of my design education, that of reflective practice. But it is really important because of the ramifications of Milan’s observations, and the ensuing discussions


IA collaboration – two heads can be better

Saturday, March 1st, 2008


IAcollab   Two months ago I wrote about a case study, how it was implemented and what the results were. I thought I would go into the detail of the information architecture and how collaboration with my colleague helped us reach a successful conclusion to the project.


I was extremely fortunate to be working alongside a taxonomist, Rachel Hammond. We were sat beside each other and interacted continuously on the same project daily. This made for an extremely good collaborative working environment.


Concept models explained – Dan Brown from EightShapes at IXDA

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008


Dan Brown at IXDA The most popular post on this blog is about concept models and recently Dan Brown talked at the IXDA conference on the subject. He effectively walks through the chapter of his book, giving an in-depth talk on what they are and why you should use them. Its 37 minutes but well worth it, here.
I have used concept models for a year on 7 large projects and I personally think they are the most valuable design deliverable. Basically its because all other steps in designing a site fall out from this in-depth analysis.

Some interesting points of note from the talk were about collaboration and buy-in, which are so key to the success of any project.

Dan Brown - Eightshapes

Digg! An IA case study

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

The old

This was not so much a redesign, or even a relaunch, but more of a resurrection of a site that had become tired, old and ineffective. Its many shortcomings were highlighted with the onslaught of the new generation of sites from competitors that used user-generated content and a more social networking approach to their presentation layer.

As this site represented the best of computer related business journalism, it was apt that it should be the company’s first site that underwent a complete overhaul from the ground up.


Concept Models – illustrating business strategy

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

In his book, Communicating Design, Dan Brown has a chapter devoted to the concept model. Initially I thought that these were little more that an add-on for a web project but after using them for nine months I can safely say they are integral to any new site or redesign. The power of them is largely in their simplicity, nothing more than a few circles and lines, and their ability to communicate without complication. It is this clarity that makes them instantly engaging amongst any group, be they business owners or developers.


It allows a common ground to be reached in terms of a vision for the site or project. It is a mental model and the tangible document between what the IA is thinking and what the rest of the team is wanting to see from the site. Add the users into this and you have the IA basics right there. Essentially the IA basics, it places the user at its core (user needs), the business interfacing with the user and its own objectives (the products’ context) and the actual content that will be produced often in the form of a product (content).

You can also blend in real world statistics to give credence to your thinking, many business owners like to be shown a few figures to back up your arguments and it makes for a more in-depth read.

The great thing is that the client identifies with this A3 colour print, they put it on their wall. It defines where they are heading, its ‘the star to sail their ship by’ as Peter Merholz said recently at dConstruct

For the IA its also the way we can ensure that user needs are in the fabric of the structure of our site. Not only by persona led taxonomies but by defining areas that users will feel a part of and then creating areas around these zones. By using the model as a basis for site structure, the site map can be spun out fairly rapidly and its presence ensures the user needs, the business goals and content types are never missed in the design process.

I find that this document is the most important in many ways, as it crystallizes the thought processes of a team and defines how a project will be tackled and what the likely outcomes will be. All with the user at the centre of the design process, and that can only ever be a good thing.

See Dan Brown’s presentation at IXDA on the subject here