Sunday, May 06, 2007

The No-Knead Approach to Information Architecture (#4 of 5)

Diagraming user behavior ...

"So far, we've banned the evil term "redesign," and discussed how important it is to have a sense of your site's primary audiences . Now comes the fun part, Step #3: determine each audience's primary tasks and information needs.

Duh.

I realize that this sounds painfully obvious. But can you describe—with even minimal confidence—the major needs that each of your primary audiences wants from your site?

It boggles the mind how few people responsible for web sites and intranets—Web masters, managers, product developers, information architects—have a reasonable answer.

And how many would know whether their sites are successfully addressing those critical needs?

So let's take a crack at this painfully obvious stuff.

I've been spending way too much time thinking about search analytics (although not enough time writing about it, but that's another story). In SA, we spend a lot of time talking about this chart: (below)

In SA, the Zipf Distribution is used to chart search queries in order of frequency (based on volume). The top 10% of all unique queries account for 10% of all searches. The top 20% account for 40% of all searches, and so on. The basic conceit is that our resources go further when they're invested in making the really frequent queries in the "short head" retrieve good stuff. (The other, more esoteric queries make up what's commonly referred to as the "Long Tail".)

But we can also use the Zipf Distribution to understand other user behaviors beyond search. Common navigational paths, as determined from analyzing server logs, chart the same way. So will your content: check your logs and you'll see that a handful of your site's documents get the lion's share of visits, while others are rarely if ever retrieved. A few metadata attributes do the bulk of the work. And so on."    (Continued via Bloug)    [Usability Resources]

The Long Tail - Usability, User Interface Design

The Long Tail

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