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Using Information Architecture Deliverables

Understanding how to create information architecture deliverables is the (kinda) easy part. But it takes additional expertise and a lot of trial and error to develop an understanding of how to best apply these deliverables.

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The November issue of InformationWeek contained an interesting Dr. Dobb’s article on Lean User Experience (UX) design. If you’re new to the concept Lean UX is all about finding a way to systematically integrate UX design – both information architecture (IA) and visual design – into an agile development methodology.

In my current role I frequently evaluate products for use by clients or my internal team. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of online demonstrations for social media monitoring and analysis software. Some account executives and sales reps do a great job with these presentations; most don’t. Here are some common mistakes.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who’s responsible for providing software product demos. This book focuses mainly on the presales/sales engineering role, but it’s also applicable to account reps and anyone else who conducts software trainings or internal presentations. The author does a great job of summarizing the key concept of this book into one concise page. Do the last thing first…

I recently had the misfortune of dealing with a technical sales rep that seemed to make every wrong move possible. It was like they followed a script from How to Suck at Sales and Drive Away Customers for Dummies or Used Car Sales 101. The company’s software is solid, and a good sales rep probably could have persuaded me to go with their product. Here’s how this person did just the opposite.

For anyone who’s read their shares of sales books the following titles certainly aren’t new. But for anyone new to sales, or who just hasn’t taken time to wade through the mountains of sales books available, these two are a great place to start. They’re straightforward, practical, timeless, and two of my favorites. 1) Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets (Michael Bosworth). 2) The One Minute Sales Person (Spencer Johnson)

I recently read Partnering With the CIO: The Future of IT Sales Seen Through the Eyes of Key Decision Makers. It’s good context for anyone partnering or selling to C-level execs or senior government staff.

The role of a sales engineer isn’t widely known outside the world of large software and hardware companies. Naturally a sales engineer combines skills of both a engineer and sales representative. Here are some resources for sales engineers.

I recently finished reading Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans. It’s a great book. Comprehensive with a high-level focus for marketers and managers new to social media. I’ve recommended it to people new to the field who just don’t know where to start. At the same time this book has enough technical depth and unique perspective to keep Web marketing and social media professionals engaged.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the National Conference on Health Communication, Media and Marketing conference in Atlanta. Social media has been one of the main areas of focus at this conference over the last couple years. My presentation was intended to inform the audience about emerging strategies and approaches to social media monitoring and analysis. Many Federal Government agencies have now embraced social media as a communication and marketing platform, but few have leveraged its power as a platform for researching public sentiment and behavior.

A quick review of the book Marketing in the Age of Google, which offers an interesting perspective on a variety of Web marketing topics including analytics, advertising and search engine optimization. Author Vanessa Fox (formerly with Google) does a great job explaining complex topics thoroughly but succinctly.

The Twitter Firehose is a phrase that refers to the roughly 50 million daily tweets on everything from Wall Street reform to Justin Bieber’s favorite cereal. There are hundreds of tools on the market designed to monitor and measure Twitter data by allowing users to easily search and track Twitter trends. One of the big problems with most of these products is that they don’t have access to the full Twitter Firehose. Typically they might only have access to 10%-20% of all Twitter posts on any given day. There’s a couple reasons for this.

As use of social media has exploded over the last few years, companies and government agencies have struggled to keep pace with the constant flow of information and opinions. Not only are organizations struggling with how to monitor social information, they’re also not sure how to analyze what they are monitoring. As a result we’ve seen a new market called social intelligence take shape.

A look at some of the social media monitoring and analysis software companies.

Or – How not to be the person that nobody wants to invite to lunch… For anyone who isn’t already familiar with Dale Carnegie, I recommend you get acquainted with his work by reading How to Win Friends & Influence People. This book was originally published in 1937 and still holds up today. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from reading – or rereading – this book. Most of the principles and guidelines should be obvious to us all. However, remembering and adhering to his advice is an ongoing struggle for most.

Four recent videos discussing various Web marketing topics. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Zynga execs discuss the future of online advertising. AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong says display advertising will still dominant. Sapient’s Freddie Laker on the future of social media. Lithium’s Paul Greenberg on the state of Social CRM

I’ve been using the text link advertising platform Text-Link-Ads for several years now with good success. …Based on my recent experience I decided to search for an alternative text link advertising provider. I hadn’t previously heard of LinkWorth, but the site looked nice and the product was described intuitively.

I recently wrote about how open source content management system (CMS) platforms like Drupal have gained a foothold in the government sector. However, the majority of enterprise-level CMS implementations at the Federal Government level are run by the big boys, including longtime market leaders Vignette and Interwoven.

A list of the 2010 top 100 Government Technology Contractors. They are ranked based on related revenue from IT products and services, systems integration, telecommunications, professional services and engineering services. These contracts total more than $130 billion. Lockheed Martin retains the top spot again this year.

I’m always intrigued when someone puts together a top 10 (or any number) list of Web design or consulting companies. I’m not sure how much science there is behind this list. There may actually be some “pay for rank” angle at work.

An unlikely adopter of Drupal CMS over the past couple of years has been the U.S. Federal Government. And it now seems like a very timely move given Obama’s Open Government Initiative.

The liquid layout for websites is dead, thankfully. Actually, it’s been largely dead for a few years now. You’re next question may be, how do they decide how wide to make their layout?

An interesting article discussing an approach to involving Web developers early in the requirements analysis. I find this type of intense approach very useful on large projects with numerous stakeholders, designers, developers, and managers.

I’m often asked to evaluate or analyze websites that I have no relation with. While there’s no way to get very accurate traffic statistics without having access to the site’s server logs or some other analytics, there are some nice tools to give us a glimpse of the traffic levels and general visitor demographics. Here’s a quick list of some of the tools I use.

InformationWeek’s annual U.S. IT Salary Survey showed a median raise for IT professionals of 0% in 2010. The survey data was gathered from 20,000+ IT professionals between November and January. It’s the first time in 11 years that IT salaries have not increased. The pay freeze holds true pretty much across the board – managers, staffers, contractors, and consultants. Highest and lowest paying market segments – and job titles.

Video demo by Adobe’s Paul Dorian on using Fireworks not only to create website visual designs, but also to create wireframes. This video has peeked my interest in exploring Fireworks for creating wireframes. I’m inspired to revisit my approach on the next site design I get my hands on.

I find it interesting to see the different attitudes companies have to disclosing their corporate hierarchies to outsiders. This article is a comparison of career paths of some of the largest consulting companies.

The upcoming release of the Radian6 Engagement Console promises to improve the way companies monitor and engage customers, or their client’s customers, through social media. I have looked at a variety of social media monitoring systems over the past few months – including entry level tools like Trendrr or SocialMention, as well as mid to enterprise level applications like Vocus and Nielsen’s Buzz Metrics.

Here are the most popular NFL team websites – ranked from 1st to 32nd. It’s not much of a surprise that “America’s Team” tops the list and ranked #1 in traffic for all three statistics providers.

Firebug is a free plugin for Firefox that eases the pain of inspecting websites code without having access to the source code. It helps a lot when dealing with third-party code, such as Ning, with complex CSS structure.

Who can you trust on the Web these days? Certainly not your Web anlaytics or tracking softeware. At least not without a grain of salt and the ability to selectively ignore data. Here are some confusing and contradictory usage numbers from a few of the sites I maintain.

The top 25 technology consulting firms rankings for 2010. McKinsey, Booz Allen, Deloitte, Gartner, and Accenture take the first 5 spots. Sapient is the lone Web consulting firm to make the list.

The top 50 ranked interactive agencies (i.e. Web/digital marketing) based on revenue. Razorfish tops the list followed by Sapient.

Information architecture deliverables and diagrams – Web Site Wireframes – Samples, Examples.

Sitemaps – along with Wireframes – are my bread and butter of information architecture diagrams. When setting out to analyze and document an existing Web site one of my first steps is to sketch out a rouhg site map.

Understanding how to create information architecture deliverables is the (kinda) easy part. But it takes additional expertise and a lot of trial and error to develop an understanding of how to best apply these deliverables.

Examples and samples of Wireframes, Site Maps, Story boards, Use Cases, Paper Prototypes. This article is a central repository of Information architecture deliverables and diagram documentation.

This article takes a look at various web Navigation types (e.g. primary, secondary, tertiary, supplemental, search), techniques and strategies. Plenty of examples and best practices.

A quick look at creating Web content inventories, a process that involves analyzing and recording what content and pages currently exist on the Web site. This is often the first step in a through site redesign or re-architecture. Includes some content inventory samples.

Use cases, sometimes called user scenarios, are narratives or flow diagrams that describe and illustrate how users will interact with a Web site. A use case can identify specific tasks or more general concepts and usage patterns. Includes samples.

Before starting any Web project it is imperative to understand the target audiences. User personas help designers, developers, managers, and clients keep the target audiences in mind. This article takes a quick look at some best practices for creating user personas.

A Web style guide is a document that outlines the design requirements for site. A style guide generally defines the typography, color palette, and key elements. This article discusses the benefits of creating style guides.

Information architecture is the foundation open which websites are built. You can think of it as the blue prints for a website. This article discusses the process information architects follow, and how to best get started on creating an IA.