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Archive for August, 2005

Attractive sites are nicer to write

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

It’s true – attractive things really do work better. And attractive sites really are nicer to write for.

I redesigned my site recently. It was awfully, awfully ugly. And because of that, I rarely bothered to write much content. I wrote for the blog, which was only moderately ugly, but the main part of the site was a particularly bad example of my work.

But now that I have redesigned (the entire site, including the obscure bits) and actually like my site, I find myself updating it more often. Just fixing things, tweaking the content, adding new pages, clearing the dust out of the corners, keeping it nice and shiny. Generally liking it and taking care of it like I should.

There is an important message here – not only for me, but for anyone who manages a site with distributed authors. Why don’t they keep their content up to date? Well, maybe they don’t like the site and don’t really feel like they want to take care of it. And the remedy to that is obvious.

Maybe, maybe not

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

I was talking to my husband last night about a book idea. I’m in that phase where I’m switching between ‘cool idea/no-one will be interested’. I had an idea yesterday about a way to frame the topic that could make it work.

We talked about it for a bit, and I said:

“I think I might actually start thinking about maybe doing this”

I don’t think I’m going to get anywhere with that level of commitment…

IAs – get your blog together

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

I have been reading IA blogs for a good while – at least 4 years. And, you know, the IA and interfaces for our own blogs suck. I’m not going to name names, because you guys are my friends and colleagues; but boy, as a group, we do a bad job.

We all write good stuff. We think about our posts and write decent length, meaty articles. Sometimes we rant, sometimes we think, but there is always good and I have learned so much from you all.

We get some good comments at the time of posting, then we ignore our posts. They fall off the home page and disappear from view. On all of my favourite IA blogs, the only way to get to that great information is via a date-based archive. How useless is that? In order to find anything, you have to know when it was posted, which either means trolling through endless archives, or missing great information because it is completely buried.

We use silly links, like a ‘comment’ link to go through to a post. We use pop-ups to allow posting and reading comments. We use jargon like ‘trackback’ and ‘RSS’ when we know some of our audience don’t know about these things.

Why would anyone hire an IA who can’t even IA their own site. Its like hiring a graphic designer with no sense of space and colour.

Come on guys. Let’s get it together and show our skills on our own sites. Think about what we know about why people read our blogs, how they use our stories, about information’s currency and temporality.

I’ll start! I’m going to go through three years of posts and re-tag them. Highlight the great articles, make the good ones easier to find, link related things together and relegate only the trivial day-to-day to the date-based archive. I’m going to link to my posts with a meaningful title, and make sure my site is standards compliant. I’m going to try to do some jargon-busting. I might even do some usability testing.

What will you do?