AEAChicago2007 – “The Seven Lies of Information Architecture” by Liz Danzico

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Liz Danzico’s post about her presentation

Definitely the most controversial presentation. - with Khoi Vinh
edits many people but project with Adobe was first time she'd
	been edited in a while
Adobe's design center editor redlined a sentence that ended with
	a preposition
rules are easy, guidelines are hard
lists with numbers are commandments, people writing them
	are experts, etc.
Joe and Josephine, first personas in industrial design -
	Henry Dreyfuss, The Measure of Man
Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language
many many others.
Chris Messina, flickr Patterns
Yahoo! Pattern Library
Navigation must always be consistent.
	you can recognize a Chinese menu from a small window
	UT Austin, The Shape of Information, presented by Victor
		Lombardi at IA Summit
	can recognize Amazon left nav from color, content, space,
		leading, etc.
	Rapunyi Hills in Tokyo is beautiful
	very few street names in Japan, so they use landmarks, and those
		are on the Google map
	don't need Google searchbox of homepage on the Google Maps page
	need -> interpret -> navigate -> react, with interpret being the
		important step
	new Apple nav "inconsistent at every single page, which is awesome"
	So: Navigation must always be predictable and familiar.
There is a magic number seven (plus or minus two).
	individuals can only keep about seven items in short-term memory
	but broad and shallow navigation structures are easier to navigate
		than deep ones
	So: There is a magic number but it always just "depends".
Users must get to all parts of the site all the time.
	when you're dealing with a closed system, then provide navigation
		to all parts
	John Gruber of Daring Fireball talked at the AIGA/Apple speaker series
	asked audience who knew about the event from whom, and pretty
		much everyone knew from DF
	it's OK to get to an AIGA event without being notified by AIGA
	think about interconnectedness of web
	So: Users must get to everywhere from everywhere - but that
		includes external everywheres.
Users must know where they are at all times.
	when wayfinding breaks down, people take matters into their
		own hands
	daylife's purpose is for you to get lost on the site
	YouTube doesn't have sense of place or structure, just jump around
	Barnes & Noble gains a significant part of its revenue from "people
		who bought this also buy"
	So: Users must know what's next, where can I go from here.
The user experience must be seamless.
	Apple's Human Interface Guidelines has a very complete style guide
		- windows named "untitled"
	WordPress has its Codex to codify its interface
	original twitter sketch ( is about what you're doing
	"What are you doing?" and character limit are only constant
		across applications
	So: The designer must design beautiful seams.
Shorter is better.
	how often do people make a mistake with Amazon One-Click?
	longer is often better:
		No one belongs here more than you, by Miranda July
	So: Short is better, and long is sometimes better too.
Information architects do information architecture.
	cloaked society, secret handshake discipline
	good reason for explicit person to be responsible for deliverables
	we talk about moving between phases, really jarring words
	used to work at Razorfish when trying to figure out what IA was
	GM said "from now on, each one of you is your own project
		manager," and they were shocked
	instead of saying "we need to hire an IA", we should all figure out
		how to do IA
	So: Information architects do information architecture, and so
		should developers, designers, writers, clients, and users.
this is scary, because pointing at research can stop an unwise client
	in their tracks
you can point to research, but consider doing your own
you can also point to this talk :)
there's a chance Steve Krug is thinking about another book on
	usability testing on a shoestring
students often flounder without rules - how do you avoid reinventing
	the wheel?
Razorfish interviewing 8 people a day, hiring 3 people a week
how do you teach people your practices when you don't know what
	they are yourself?
created a project called Shallow Dive Project - like Dateline Deep Dive
three days to solve a design problem using the resources in the company
just gave them a brief, then after three days present to the entire company
they found their own rules
make research available to students, but present problems where they
	can experience the rules
then let them decide which "rules" are actually useful
how do you teach clients to catagorize content for a new CMS installation?
subjective process, have to work through it together
a favorite lie is "users will not scroll horizontally"
relativist bent of this talk - learning rules to know when to break them
there's value to learning rules, but people should be encouraged to
	decide when to follow them
users may not need to know where they are, but do they need to be
	able to get back?
studied news: the more tools people had to use the internet, the more
	excited and proud they were
combination of bookmarks, RSS readers, friends,
watch what they're doing - use of and bookmarks suggests
	need save feature
what happens to accessibility when you're breaking the rules?
what you do depends on audience

About Jennifer Berk

I'm an analytics and data leader with a marketing and product mindset. I like online newspapers, science fiction and fantasy, and ugly fish.
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One Response to AEAChicago2007 – “The Seven Lies of Information Architecture” by Liz Danzico

  1. Pingback: Information Squid » Blog Archive » An Event Apart Chicago 2007

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