Strategy Insights

The Informed Life: Structured Content

A digital Microphone sitting on a desktop with blank computer monitors in the background

In this episode of "The Informed Life," Jorge Arango and I discuss the role of structured content in making complex ideas clear online. Topics include the transition from traditional web pages to a data-centric web design, the role of information architecture in making complex information systems accessible and intelligible to both humans and machines, and the challenges and opportunities in using semantically sound structured content to enhance digital information's usability and accessibility.

Taxonomy Boot Camp 2022 Themes & Takeaways

Cover slides from six talks presented at Taxonomy Boot Camp 2022

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the 18th annual Taxonomy Boot Camp in Washington DC. This year’s conference carried on its strong tradition of ideas, talks, and workshops for neophytes and experts alike, and, as always, provided much food for thought. Here’s a roundup of the themes and topics I saw recurring across talks, plus (as always) a bit of commentary on where I see them fitting into the bigger picture of designing information spaces that are easy to understand and pleasant to use.

Structured Content and the Headless CMS

A Garmin smart-watch, sitting on a wooden bench.

Are you still trying to wrap your head around what structured content is, how to use it, and what the benefit is to the folks who use your content? One way to think of it is that structured content treats information as a set of ideas, concepts, and facts to communicate, each described in a way that conveys its meaning in a machine readable way. Here's a brief illustration to demonstrate what that looks like.

Content Strategy Insights: Data, Stories & Meaning

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In this episode of "Content Strategy Insights," Larry Swanson and I discuss the huge gaps between the human needs of digital content consumers and the constraints and requirements of the digital systems that manage it. We also, of course, explore how information architects use data, stories, and meaning to bridge these gaps and bring content to life for the human beings who need it.

Delivering Information Architecture

A creative photograph of a cityscape focused within the lens of a camera held by a hand, with the blurry background of the sunset sky and city buildings outside the lens.

One of the greatest challenges in digital design is identifying and maintaining focus on the right problem. For information architecture, one of our most common deliverables, the visual sitemap, can actually make focusing on the right problems harder, if not impossible. In this article we’ll examine why this happens, explore what practitioners and teams can do to avoid this trap of misplaced focus, and learn how to rehabilitate our wayward sitemaps and reinstate them as the effective design artifacts they can be.

What Is Information Architecture?

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Information Architecture is the process and the product of designing shared information environments. In the same way that building architects collaborate in the creation of physical environments for shared human use, information architects collaborate in the creation of information environments for shared human use. The architect may not know in detail how each wall or widget gets built, but they know enough about how all the pieces fit together as a whole to ensure that the final result effectively meets the human needs.

A Cognitive Sciences Reading List for Designers

Close up of book spines on a shelf

If you’ve ever done any contextual inquiry or usability testing, you’ve probably observed first hand the difference between what people say they will do and what they actually end up doing. Overlooked calls to action, bizarre navigation paths, mind-bogglingly irrational decisions — even the most sensible seeming users occasionally (or often) do things that “rationally” make little sense. Which is to say that we all, on occasion (or often) do things that seem to make little rational sense.

Language + Meaning + User Experience Architecture

Schematic images of three different kitchen layouts from above, showing the consistency of the kitchen triangle in each.

In order to effectively communicate across contexts in digital information spaces, we need to understand the way we make meaning as thinking animals. We also need to dig in to the details of the language and models we use to make them intelligible, both so that we can use them more effectively and so that we can leave them behind when they are hindering communication. In the same way that we construct our built environments in response to the physical mechanics of our bodies, we can construct our information environments in response to the conceptual mechanics of our minds.