Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Organizing information for web design

Last week Beth pointed me to a great read, Non-Profit Tech Blog: Confessions of a Non-Profit IT Director. On Sunday, Allan's blog post gave me a great call out and had some good questions for me to ponder as we move forward with our redesign(s). He wrote:

What I would like Chas to show is his toolset for web information architecture design. Does he use Visio? Does he brainstorm on paper? Does he use index cards? However, he certainly he gives out enough information for people to eventually replicate his work methods for themselves. Hint, hint, I’ll be doing some of that myself.
First of all, I’ve never heard of Visio, so that was cool. And, index cards? I’ve never thought of that, but if it worked for me in elementary school and for my wife as she went through law school, then by golly it should work for me at the office.

I'm not sure if this completely addresses the question, but my preferred method (I use ‘preferred’ loosely as I haven’t dabbled with much else) is whiteboard, note taking, and meetings - a little old fashion wouldn't you say?

Whiteboard – Every Thursday, the web team meets and discusses web work completed, web work that needs to be scheduled, and upcoming week’s email schedule. Shortly, we will be including an editorial calendar to the mix (any successful models would be appreciated).

Note taking – I write a lot and cross out even more. I also carry a little ‘dorkpad’ around with me to capture tidbits outside of the office, e.g. sites to visit, folks to contact, shower-moment-thoughts, etc.

Meetings – For us, the web has been a huge patch quilt over the years absorbing lots and lots of information. So, my task early on (and hasn't stopped) has been meeting with folks to learn more about what they do, how our site(s) can reinforce/promote their work, and learn what we can do to integrate our work more efficiently and effectively.

Why am I going through this? Well, basically, Allan has me thinking about my 'toolset' as well as how I organize the information architecture, balance needs vs. wants, and better integrate our work online. And how I bring people into the process, that's also key. I will also look into Visio, but I’d like to hear what works for others. Editorial calendars? Wikis? Intranets?


Page Sands said...

I like to design with one foot in the old and the other in the new. This is what I use:

A combination of post-it notes and free mind. http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

I got into mind maps last year when I had to organize lecture notes.

Chas Offutt said...

Page, I've heard of that before, but haven't explored. Thanks. It reminds me (like visio) of the spider-like web your 8th grade english teacher used to make you draw out for brainstorming purposes before you started writing your story.

I also like the presentation factor with this as it looks like one can get ideas across a little more easily to new audiences.

Beth said...

I've used visio for about ten years, since Version. It is a diagram tool, not a thinking tool. Right now I use Mindmanager which more of a visual thinking tool - example of my diagrams

Inspiration is also a useful tool for thinking visually and organizing information.
here's an example of my blogging workflow

I've written on visual diagraming/thinking tools here:

Keep up the great work!

Chas Offutt said...

Beth, you come through big again, thanks!

I like that you put up your tools on Flickr too, very cool. Helps me understand this a little better.

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