SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Former writer, now IA?
Re: SIGIA-L: Former writer, now IA?
Date: Mon Feb 26 2001 - 15:46:34 EST
Tying it all together.
Due to recent references to Jennifer Flemming's book, Web Navigation, I
borrowed a copy from one of my colleagues today. I was struck by comments
from Clement Mok who made the claim that software developers never really
considered navigation in their design. While I don't take issue with his
comment, I did immediately reflect on how much I thought about navigation
as a technical writer. I really tried to write based on an individual's
need to navigate a document.
I also remember being underwhelmed by the techniques a colleague brought
back from an Information Mapping seminar in 1991, and thinking back to
that time just this past week as a colleague returned from recent event.
Don't get me wrong, the principles are so invaluable that I now recommend
such training in plans for rolling out a global content management
implementation (every contributor should know and adopt the principles),
but for me, my mind already worked that way. I was always in conflict with
"writers": they started with words; I started with concepts as mental
models. They wanted to measure productivity by numbers of pages generated;
I wanted to spend 2 weeks turning 10 pages into a 2-sided reference card.
When I discovered Richard Saul Wurman in 1991, I felt like I found "home";
he spoke to the way I thought. It was that mental processing that made me
see that similar techniques were being used by our corporate data modeler,
who was making at least 3 times more than I was. So I went and got a
certificate in Data Resource Management.
In my very first job out of college, when writing the documentation for a
warehousing/distribution system, the first thing I did was make a beeline
for our graphics department (good thing we had one) and had the artists
design icons to use as visual cues as I described processes moving from
one department to another. Don't ask me why. It just made sense to me.
Words were boring to me. They took too much work when trying to gather
We still have a long way to go in designing an appropriate breadth of
courses to support our needs. At the University of Washington (where I
attended eons ago), you couldn't take design courses unless you were an
art major. I know the "closed domain" walls of various departments are
starting to crumble, but we have a long way to go to achieve the
multidiciplinary approach that should be available to help bring
individuals quickly up to speed in things that it has taken many of us
over a decade to discover by trial and error.
Senior Consultant / Information Architect
Luminant Worldwide, Dallas
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:31 EST