ILS656-IA Team Project

February 5, 2007

The major portion of my ILS656-Information Architecture class is to work on a group web site design/redesign project. The professor asked us all to submit any ideas that we had for projects – and to list our strengths according the the Nine Pillars of Web Design. Once she had all of this information, she created a list of suggested web projects and a list of suggested topics for each student. We all voted for which projects we would like to work on. At this point, the professor came up with an overall plan for four projects and tentative teams. I will admit to being a bit disappointed that I was not given my first choice of project. Rather than work on a web site at SCSU for distance students, I will be working on a redesign project for a public library. However, overall, I think this is a great assignment, and that there is a great deal to be learned from redesigning a public library web site.

I also want to say how much I appreciate the way in which the professor put all of the group projects together. As a rather introverted type, I have always hated trying to find a group to work with in a classroom setting. I don’t do it well in a face-to-face class where I actually might know someone – so I find it even more traumatic in an online environment. In this case, the professor handled the situation very well. She allowed us to come up with the project ideas and then made suggestions. She allowed people the flexibility to object or express doubt – and make changes. However, she oversaw the process and made sure that everyone had a place. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

While I didn’t get to work on my first project choice, I was made project manager of the project to which I was assigned. In addition, I will be responsible for Concrete Design, Content Production; Technology Implementation, Technology Strategy, and Site Strategy. Wow!!! There is a great deal of work involved in this project – and right now it seems daunting. Additionally, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of being in charge. It will definitely be a challenge. Of course, right now, everything is still a bit nebulous. I have only been in contact with one of the team members (and hope to hear from the second soon) – so it will probably take a bit to feel comfortable within our team. There is something a bit more challenging about collaborating solely in the cyberworld. But, I’m excited – and looking forward to seeing what we come up with. Hopefully, it will all go well.

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Web Usability Resources

February 5, 2007

The University of Michigan Library has a web site dedicated to information about usability – the goal of which is to “provide open access to our reports and working documents in order to share our findings with the University of Michigan libraries as well as the community-at-large.” Of particular interest to me is a page of usability resources. A big thanks to the folks at the University of Michigan Library for sharing this great information!!!

found via LISNews.org


BBC’s Web Design Principles

February 5, 2007

From The Creative Librarian:

Tomski: The BBC’s Fifteen Web Principles

  1. Build web products that meet audience needs: anticipate needs not yet fully articulated by audiences, then meet them with products that set new standards. (nicked from Google)
  2. The very best websites do one thing really, really well: do less, but execute perfectly. (again, nicked from Google, with a tip of the hat to Jason Fried)
  3. Do not attempt to do everything yourselves: link to other high-quality sites instead. Your users will thank you. Use other people’s content and tools to enhance your site, and vice versa.
  4. Fall forward, fast: make many small bets, iterate wildly, back successes, kill failures, fast.
  5. Treat the entire web as a creative canvas: don’t restrict your creativity to your own site.
  6. The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.
  7. Any website is only as good as its worst page: Ensure best practice editorial processes are adopted and adhered to.
  8. Make sure all your content can be linked to, forever.
  9. Remember your granny won’t ever use “Second Life”: She may come online soon, with very different needs from early-adopters.
  10. Maximise routes to content: Develop as many aggregations of content about people, places, topics, channels, networks & time as possible. Optimise your site to rank high in Google.
  11. Consistent design and navigation needn’t mean one-size-fits-all: Users should always know they’re on one of your websites, even if they all look very different. Most importantly of all, they know they won’t ever get lost.
  12. Accessibility is not an optional extra: Sites designed that way from the ground up work better for all users
  13. Let people paste your content on the walls of their virtual homes: Encourage users to take nuggets of content away with them, with links back to your site
  14. Link to discussions on the web, don’t host them: Only host web-based discussions where there is a clear rationale
  15. Personalisation should be unobtrusive, elegant and transparent: After all, it’s your users’ data. Best respect it.

Some Lessons About Customer Service

February 5, 2007

Phyllis over at Something New Everyday recently wrote a post about a rather nasty customer service experience that she had experienced with her internet connection – which took 9 days to actually resolve. It sounds like the entire process was incredibly painful with way too many phone calls to try and get someone to help. However, Phyllis came away from the experience with some ideas about dealing with dissatisfied customers. I think these are lessons from which we can all learn. They are:

  • Don’t make a promise that can’t be kept
  • Tell the customer the truth instead of what they want to hear, if the two aren’t the same thing
  • Apologize only when you can offer a solution
  • Internal communication is essential so the customer isn’t given conflicting information
  • Don’t wish someone a good day, when they have just told you how your bad service is ruining their day
  • Keep a sense of humor and use it appropriately
  • Be aware of cultural differences

I especially like the suggestion not to wish someone a good day when they have a legitimate problem with something. There is very little that is more aggravating than having someone end a phone conversation with “Have a good day – and thank you for calling us” if the company has not solved your problem. The suggestion to not promise something that cannot be delivered is also critical. Customer service representatives seem to do this all the time. To me, this is actually a lie – and that is the worst possible thing that people can do to angry and unhappy customers.