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Information Architecture, In Short

Posted in all posts, design, IA, UX, web by coleman yee on February 13, 2007

In my new role as a Design Consultant, I’m involved in the design of user experiences (UX) – what a user experiences when they are, say, visiting a website.

When people ask me what I do, one of the things I usually mention is Information Architecture (IA), which is a part of user experience (UX) design.

Blank look. During that brief moment, I can tell that most people are thinking if they should ask me to explain further or not.

Then I’d go ahead with an explanation similar to this:

When you have a large website, it’s common for the information to be badly organized, such that it’s hard to find the information you’re looking for, right?

I’d pause and wait for some glimmer of understanding to appear in their eyes, before continuing:

What the Information Architect does is to use various methods, such as user studies, surveys, et cetera, to find out what is the optimum way to organize the information on the website, so that the website becomes a lot more user-friendly.

That’s when they usually get it.

It’s been a week into this new job, and I’ve been learning a tremendous amount, and there’s still loads to learn.

Things are getting interesting.

Russ Weakley’s CSS Workshop

Posted in all posts, design, education, web by coleman yee on February 8, 2007

PebbleRoad (the company I work for) brought in the highly-acclaimed Russ Weakley to do a workshop on CSS today.

Russ is a great guy to work with – extremely easygoing, and no hint of ego at all, even though he’s one of the best CSS gurus alive (or dead) today. And a humorous guy as well, with his self-deprecating style of humor (he claims it’s normal Australian humor).

He carries the same style of humor into the workshop, telling us countless stories of his “idiotic” mistakes he made with CSS, which certainly makes the participants feel a lot better at themselves.

He’s also great at making humorous analogies to explain concepts (“inheriting big noses from your parents”), which helps make concepts a lot easier to understand (analogies) and memorable (humor).

All in all, I thought this was a wonderful workshop, and all the attendees I spoke to left the place very happy. I’ve a feeling that a lot of people who decided not to attend will regret that decision.

Let me geek out now:

Below is a list (mostly for my own reference) of the most interesting things I learnt-

  1. left and right padding/margin have no effect on inline elements
  2. inline elements can be made to appear like block level elements (and vice versa) using display:block (or display:inline)
  3. pseudo classes, especially tr:hover for to highlight a row in a table when the mouse is over it. (How I want to go back to the last website I coded to add this in.)
  4. calculating the weight/importance of selectors
  5. better understanding of shorthand rules (I need more practise on this)
  6. much clearer understanding of positioning – especially floats
  7. specify a width after you float a box
  8. margin collapse with normal flow boxes
  9. IE’s subtractive interpretation of the box model
  10. linking all CSS files within 1 CSS file
  11. elegantly using different CSS files for different browsers, including problematic ones (NN4, IE5, IE6, etc.)
  12. better understanding of forms, with fieldsets and labels, including the styling
  13. different styles for different pages
  14. resolution dependant layouts. Real cool.

Web Standards Group Meeting

Posted in all posts, web by coleman yee on January 17, 2007

The first meeting of Singapore’s Web Standards Group finally happened today at Raffles Girls’ School.

Lucian started the meeting with an introductory presentation on web standards, while I did an introduction to web accessibility (“how to bluff your way through web accessibility”), and Nick Pan presented on the U21 Global site. Nick also showed a very nice representation of web standards by Natalie Jost called “web standards in a nutshell“.

A great session overall, finally getting to meet people I’ve encounted online for a long time (like Jimmy and Ivan Lian), and meeting other really cool people like Herryanto and Manar Hussain.

And those of you who were there, let me know what you think of my presentation!

Update:

I won’t be posting my PowerPoint slides, since they don’t work on their own (without a human presenter). But here’s one of the slides which the audience liked:

the good-evil continuum
(click to enlarge)

And here’s the DVD example I stole from Douglas Bowman.

Here are some others who blogged about the event: