SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: SIGIA-L: Dressing up in Lab Coats
RE: SIGIA-L: Dressing up in Lab Coats
From: Louis Rosenfeld (lou_at_louisrosenfeld.com)
Date: Sun Feb 17 2002 - 08:37:36 EST
Jesse James Garrett wrote:
> John wrote:
> >everything else we do, research and testing should be applied
> where and when
> >they are useful to solving a design problem.
> True, but we as a community have developed no common understanding of
> what those "where and when" criteria should be. The archives of this
> list certainly suggest that most people consider research a universal
> good, categorically required to ensure the success of an
> architecture. My response is: Not necessarily.
> I think Jess McMullin neatly summarized my thoughts on this issue earlier:
> >our field needs to rely less on "beating the usability test" and
> >more on building confidence in our collective professional judgement
> >(aka informed personal preference). While we shouldn't abandon user
> >research just yet, are we building towards a body of knowledge rich
> >enough to support professional judgement? Or are we just fixated on
> >user performance and satisfaction, often measured in ways that
> >aren't ecologically valid?
It's absolutely true that, as a field, we've not yet determined a shared
understanding of where and when research and testing should be applied.
But we've still not addressed an even more important issue: *what* exactly
are we trying to learn? The questions that information architects try to
answer are still too many, and there is certainly no consensus around them.
That's why we always get confused (and confuse ourselves) with usability
specialists and others under the broader UX umbrella. And until we as a
field agree on *what* questions we're trying to answer, it will continue to
be Really Hard to determine *where* or *when* research and testing should
For me, the "what" of information architecture has always been about
"findability" (not surprising given my LIS background). How do we make it
easier for users to find information?
Findability is very different than usability. Designing for findability
also places information architecture more within the realm of creating
rather than testing and evaluating. (So we need to work *with* usability
engineers and others with good testing methods, instead of trying to *be*
them.) And it also sets IA apart from interaction design, another field we
allow ourselves to be too often confused with.
My $.02, obviously, and the fundamental questions that IA tries to address
will certainly vary for you. And I don't especially want to open up another
"defining IA" thread. But it probably wouldn't hurt for us to ask ourselves
*what* it is we're ultimately hoping to address before we try to determine
appropriate research and testing tools or decide to rely on our own
information architecture consulting
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:02 EST