DonnaM » 2002 » August

Archive for August, 2002

Content Inventory – day 11

Sunday, August 25th, 2002

Yippee…I finally finished the big content inventory.

(I actually finished it on Tuesday but was away for a conference and have been writing an assignment since then).

I ended up listing around 5800 pages. This still isn’t a full listing of all pages – where there were consistent sets (eg meeting minutes), I only listed them once – but it is still a really useful list. All I have listed so far is link name and url. Now I have to start going through and identifying what type of documents exist. I also have to pick some of the documents (or small groups) to use in a card sort exercise to determine a structure for the new system.

Then later, of course, I also have to find out who owns every page and whether it is current or complete ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial). That will be an interesting exercise. I imagine at least 50% ROT.

Why small websites are often bad

Thursday, August 15th, 2002

I figured out this week why so many small websites are bad.

I live in a very small town (less than 500 people). We have a yearly fair – sort of like an Australian country ag show. I heard that the person who maintained the previous website didn’t want to do it any more, so I volunteered.

The committee said yes! No questions asked – they just said yes. They didn’t ask me why I was a good representative of their community or what I had ever done on the web. I could have been the web equivalent of an axe murderer ;)

Content Inventory – when is enough

Wednesday, August 14th, 2002

Peter wrote an entry on his blog wondering whether a content inventory is worth the effort. I initially said yes, but it got me thinking.

How do we draw the line between listing out everything and getting a good overview. What would have happened if I were working on a 20,000 page site. At 500 pages per day, would it have been worth spending 40 days just to list out all of the pages? I suspect not.

Maybe this is complicated by the fact that I’m not only designing the new site (so need to know all of the content types), but implementing a new content management system. To do this well, I need to know what content we had at the beginning, and what we have done with it (moved, deleted, rewritten).

What do you think? Where is the line?

Content Inventory – day 9

Tuesday, August 13th, 2002

I continued the content inventory today. I finished a section of the site that has a structure resembling a pile of wet spaghetti. There were more than 200 links, but linking to around 30 individual documents. What a mess!

Now that I’ve finished that mess, I think I may be on the home run…

What’s happening on the blogs?

Monday, August 12th, 2002

I’ve been studying hard over the last week, and haven’t been visiting my favourite sites. I finished early tonight – so here’s what my favourite bloggers have been doing:

  • Christina has a gorgeous cover for her new book. I can’t wait to buy it.
  • James has added his photo to his blog. He has also been very busy card sorting and interviewing, with some interesting summaries. I have to go back and read this better.
  • PeterMe has a book review for a book called “Linked: The new science of networks”, that looks very interesting. I have added it to my Amazon wish list and will get it when the new Polar Bear and Christina’s books are available. Peter also wants to design a CMS for Intranets. Go Peter!
  • PeterV is back from a break from his book, and is still working on the XFML project. I’d love to offer a comment on it, but I don’t yet understand. More to read…
  • Chad has written a really funny entry on applying usability to life…his life specifically

Usability – buying toner

Wednesday, August 7th, 2002

Tonight I had a mission – to buy toner for my printer, so I can print articles for uni to write my assignment.

I didn’t know who to buy from, so Googled.

Here’s what happened:

Site 1 – I found the product and the price and could add it to my basket. But, I couldn’t go to my basket to complete the purchase.

Site 2 – this was a paper catalogue online, with no links to any other page. Black text on a grey image – not easy to read.

Site 3 – Another paper catalogue, with no logo (so I had no idea who the site was). No links to the home page.

Site 4 – IE decided to be silly and wouldn’t display images. The site home page was full of images, with no text, and no alt text … so I couldn’t see what the site contained.

Site 5 – had a list of items, and physical locations of shops that sold them, but no logo and no way to move off the page.

Back to site 1 home page…

I finally found a shopping cart item and went to the cart. To learn about shipping, I had to click a link in the middle frame, which opened a new navigator in the left frame, which I had to click on to get a new page in the middle frame. After reading about shipping, I couldn’t find the shopping cart, so had to go back to the home page.

OK…clicked on ‘continue’, and the site tried to download a .exe file to my PC. Clicking cancel allowed me to continue. Then I had to fill in a form, only to find that I couldn’t ship to a PO Box (and I live in the country with a roadside mailbox)…so the toner is going to a friend in town.

I finally got to choose a shipping option. No problem here.

I got to the credit card screen and the shipping had not been added into my order. Oh well…

Finally submitted the order, and got a confirmation number, but I couldn’t print it as I have no toner, and couldn’t save the page (who knows why). Luckily, they did send me a confirmation email.

What a drama. Surely it shouldn’t be this hard to order some toner.

Someone needs to do some usability testing…

Content Inventory – day 8

Wednesday, August 7th, 2002

I’m still plugging away with my content inventory (4200 pages so far), and it really is driving me nuts.

I’m keeping going by telling myself how useful this damn list is going to be. Things I can use it for are:

  • identifying different content types
  • identifying who owns each piece of content
  • noting content that is out of date
  • assessing what will happen if I delete pages (as I have a list of all links and where they point to)
  • keeping track of content during the transition from old to new system

But the most important use of this list is to help us to make decisions based on some real content, not just vague ideas about what we have.

New Polar Bear Book

Tuesday, August 6th, 2002

Beta chapters are available for the second edition of “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web”