Blog 3

1. Why is it difficult for people to reward good IA?

Most Information Architecture goes on behind the scenes meaning that most good IA is never even noticed.

2. Explain what is meant by “Top-Down IA”.

Top-Down IA attempts to anticipate the users’ major information needs, essentially knowing what users will be searching for before they even get to the site.

3. What are some common questions a user has upon landing on a page on a web site?

Where am I?

How do I search for what I need?

How do I navigate this site?

What’s available on the site?

What’s important/unique about this organisation?

How do I contact a human?

4. Explain what is meant by “Bottom-Up IA”. Why is Bottom-Up IA becoming increasingly important?

Bottom-Up IA means embedding the IA within the content itself, often through the use of metadata, and supports browsing and searching. Bottom-Up IA is becoming increasingly important because users are becoming more and more likely to bypass Top-Down IA by using tools like Google.

5. What is an organisation system?

Organisation systems are the main way of categorising or grouping a sites content.

6. What is a site-wide navigation system? Provide a screenshot of an example.

A site-wide navigation system is a system that aids the user in understanding exactly where they are in a site and where they can go. A common example of a site-wide navigation system is a side bar with links to the various pages of the site.


7. What is a local navigation system? Provide a screenshot of an example.

A local navigation system lets users know where they are and where they can go within a particular portion of a site.


8. What is a sitemap/table of contents? Provide a screenshot of an example.

A sitemap/table of contents provides a condensed overview of and links to major content areas and sub-sites.


9. What are site indices? Provide a screenshot of an example.

Site indices are supplementary navigation systems that provide an alphebatised list of links to the contents of the site.


10. What are site guides? Provide a screenshot of an example.

Site guides are supplementary navigation systems that provide specialised information on a specific topic, as well as links to a related subset of the sites content.

11. What are site wizards? Provide a screenshot of an example.

Site wizards are supplementary navigation systems that lead users through a sequential set of steps and may also link to a related subset of the sites content.


12. What is a contextual navigation system? Provide a screenshot of an example.

Contextual navigation systems are consistently presented links to related content. Often embedded in text, and generally used to connect highly specialised content within a site.


13. What is a search interface? Provide a screenshot of an example.

A search interface is the means of entering a search query.


14. What is a query language? List some Boolean operators and provide examples of queries using these operators.

A query language is the grammar of a search query. Boolean operators can be used to further refine the results of a search.

Boolean operators:

AND – eg. Java AND Oracle AND SQL

NOT – eg. .Net AND NOT Java

OR – eg. apache OR weblogic OR websphere

Examples provided by Boolean Black Belt

15. What is a query builder?

Query builders are ways of enhancing a query’s performance. Spell checkers, stemming and synonyms are all examples of query builders.

16. What is the purpose of a retrieval algorithm?

Retrieval algorithms are the part of a search engine that determines what content matches the users query.

17. What are search zones?

Search zones are subsets of site content that have been separately indexed to support narrower searching.

18. What are search results?

Search results are the presentation of content that matches the users search query.

19. In terms of content, why are headings important?

Headings are an important way of signifying the main focus of the proceeding content and letting users know if they have found what they are looking for.

20. What are embedded links?

Embedded links are links to other sites, or pages within a site, that are embedded in the content of a page. Embedded links are commonly seen embedded in text.

21. What is embedded metadata?

Embedded metadata is information that can be used as metadata but must first be extracted.

22. In terms of content, what are chunks?

Chunks are logical units of content.

23. What are sequential aids?

Sequential aids are clues that suggest where the user is in a process or task and how far he/she has to go before completing it.

24. What are identifiers?

Identifiers are clues that suggest where the user is in an information system, or a breadcrumb explaining where in the site he/she is.

25. What is meant by “invisible components” in IA?

Invisible components are the components of an IA system that are manifested entirely in the background. Users are rarely required to interact with these components.

26. What are controlled vocabularies and thesauri?

Controlled vocabularies and thesauri are predetermined vocabularies of preferred terms that describe a specific domain. For example, a controlled vocabulary would allow a retrieval algorithm to take into account that “Email”, “e-mail” and “electronic mail” are all the same thing.

27. What is best bets?

Best bets are the preferred search results that are manually coupled with a search query. Editors and subject matter experts determine which queries should retrieve best bets and which documents merit best bet status.

28. List some of the difficulties with organising information.



Differences in perspective

Internal politics

29. What is meant by the term “taxonomy”?

Taxonomy is the process of grouping and categorising information.

30. What is hierarchy a natural way for humans to organise information?

31. List some design rules when designing a hierarchical organisation scheme.

Keep a balance between the breadth and depth

Obey the 7+/- rule

There should be no more than 5 levels vertically

Cross-link ambiguous items if it is really necessary to do so

Try to keep new sites shallow

32. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of a hypertextual organisation structure.

A hypertextual organisation structure allows each page to link to a large number of other pages. However, this also means that there is very little in the way of organised structure and can make it quite difficult for users to find a specific page. Because of this, sites with a hypertextual organisation structure greatly benefit from an effective search engine.

33. What is social classification?

Social classification involves the use of tagging and folksonomy to classify information. When a large number of people get involved new organisation and navigation patterns emerge and make social classification easier.

34. What is meant by the term “folksonomy”?

Folksonomy is a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and translating tags to annotate and categorise content.

35. Arrange the list.

Albany, New York

El Paso, Texas

The Hague, Netherlands

H20: The Beauty of Water

Lord of the Rings, The

New York, New York

Newark, New Jersey

Plzen, Czech Republic

St. Louis, Missouri

Saint Nicholas, Belgium

XVIIme siècle

1001 Arabian Nights

1-2-3 of Magic, The

.38 Special

$35 a Day Through Europe

#!%&: Creating Comic Books

a. Did you put ‘The Hague’ under T or H? Why?

I placed it under H. Despite starting with “The” the focus of the term is in fact “Hague” and as such I consider the “The” to be a secondary concern when classifying.

b. Did you put ‘El Paso’ under E or P? Why?

This was placed under E. Even though “El” does mean “The” (and my method of classifying “the” was explained previously) I alphabetise foreign words according to their English spelling regardless of their meaning. Otherwise the term “El Paso”  would actually need to be placed under S as “paso” in Spanish means “step” and that would only serve to confuse readers.

c. Which came first in your list, ‘Newark’ or ‘New York’? Why?

In my list New York was placed first as I believe that when alphabetising an list empty space should always be shown before filled space.

d. Does ‘St. Louis’ come before or after ‘Saint Nicholas’? Why?

St. Louis comes first as “St.” is simply an abbreviation for “Saint” and should be placed according to its proper elongated spelling rather than its more informal shortened version.

e. How did you handle numbers, punctuation, and special characters? (Justify your answer.)

In this list items beginning with numbers were listed directly after any beginning with letters and were placed in ascending order. Those beginning with special characters were difficult to place but in the end I decided upon placing them according to how often the characters are used in general. For example, “#” is rarely used in everyday life (with the obvious exception of Twitter hashtags but that was not the context of this list) and for that reason it was placed last in the list preceded by the fairly common “$” and constantly used “.”.

f. Assuming the italicised terms are book titles, what might be a more useful way to organise this list? (Justify your answer.)

If that is the case then the most logical thing to do would be to not have these items listed together at all as book and locations have no logical reason to be listed together. Instead there should be two separate organised list; one for book titles and one for locations.

g. If the cities represent places you’ve visited and the book titles are ones you’ve read, how could chronology be used to order the list in a more meaningful way? (Justify your answer.)

If each item in the list was given a date and time (when you visited a place or when you finished a book) the list could be organised chronologically from least to most recent. This would also allow you easily view any new additions at first glance and better decide which place you would like to go or which book to read should you want to experience it again.

36. Seek out and provide screen shots of web sites that are examples for each of the following organisation schemes:

a. Topic/Subject

Consumer Reports

Screenshot (8)

Consumer Reports handles a very large amount of content and because of this the content is organised according to different subject matter such as Cars, Money, and Health.

b. Task


Screenshot (9)

Amazon is used specifically for the task of buying and selling various products.

c. Audience


Screenshot (10)

The OverAPI site provides cheat sheets for numerous programming languages. It was created specifically for coders and would not be used by anyone else for any other purpose.

d. Metaphor

The Invoice Machine

Screenshot (11)

The tabs on this page were designed to look like the tabs of physical folders providing a more organised and professional look.

e. Hybrid


Screenshot (12)

The CBeebies Australia homepage provides both show-based topical links and audience-based links for the parents using the site.

Blog 2

1. What is a Content Management System (CMS)? Describe the main characteristics of a CMS. Why might you use a CMS?

A Content Management System is a system to aid in the collection, management and publishing of content. CMSs can be implemented with simple interfaces to allow individuals with little or no coding experience create sophisticated functionalities. These CMSs are used to great effect in the creation of websites.

2. List 5 well know CMSs.






3. What is an open source CMS? Describe the main characteristics of an open source CMS.

An open source CMS is free to use and publicly available to anyone. As its name might suggest, its source code is open for anyone to see.

4. Describe the pros and cons of the following approaches to web development

Manual creation (in HTML)

Manually creating websites using your own code can be a long and oftentimes difficult task. It requires the creator to have significant knowledge and experience at coding. Despite this, many web developers, myself included, prefer to use their own code as it provides maximum flexibility and absolute understanding of the code should any modifications need to be made.

Commercial CMS

Commercial CMSs are generally very well made and powerful while also being supported by dedicated teams of tech support. Unfortunately this also means that they can be quite expensive to use.

Open source CMS

Open source CMSs are free to use and since the source code is openly available there is often a large variety of mods and add-ons created by the community. The large development community can also be something of a hindrance in some cases as it means there would not be any dedicated tech support for such a wide variety of potential problems that could arise.

Free CMS

Free CMSs are obviously free to use and require no prior experience but also provide the least flexibility of these 4 options.

5. What are the differences between Drupal and Google Sites?

All Google sites are hosted entirely on Googles and are designed for users that have no prior knowledge of coding. While this does make creating a site quick and generally easy it also means that there are fewer ways of customising the site as opposed to Drupal.

6. What are the differences between Drupal and Joomla?

Functionally Drupal and Joomla are quite similar. Although Drupal is more powerful and has more options more customisation it is also more difficult for those without experience to use.

7. What are the differences between Drupal and Plone?

Drupal primarily utilises PHP whereas Plone uses Python. Plone is a more advanced system and requires the user to have more extensive knowledge of some functions to get the most out of the system. Plone also requires a significant amount of configuration before a site is created.

8. Find examples of 5 sites made using Drupal?

The Economist –

Harvard University –


The White House –

Amnesty International –

9. Design a web site

Being that the website I designed is centered around video games and related news the target audience would not be any particular gender. According to, from 2006 to now the gender percentage of gamers has been around 60% male and 40% female although it has moved closer to 50/50 in recent years so I tried to make sure that the site didn’t have any design aspects that focused on a particular gender..

Gender statistics

Video games are generally enjoyed by and incredibly large demographic regardless of age and socio-economic backgrounds. As the majority of non-casual gamers are in their teens or 20’s the site was designed in a way that would not come across as particularly formal. It also contributed to my decision to add a news section dedicated to video game news.

10. Create a Google site

Blog 1

  1. What is information? Describe the qualities of information.

Information is accurate data presented in a context that improves an individuals understanding. Information should be relevant, precise and well presented to ensure that it is fully understood with no confusion.

2. What is the Dewey Decimal System? Describe how it operates.

The Dewey Decimal System is a system to accurately categorise the ever growing number of books in the world. Each book is assigned three numbers and a series of subsequent numbers after a decimal point with each number determined by the content of the book itself. For example take the book Glasslands by Karen Traviss with its Dewey Decimal of 823.92. The 8 identifies it broadly as Literature, the 2 narrows it down to English Literature and finally the 3 identifies it as English Fiction. The numbers following the decimal point further specify the books contents.

3. Explain what Library Science is.

Library Science is the total collection of techniques and technologies used to store and categorise the massive amounts of content that libraries are required to deal with.

4. What is Information Architecture?

Information Architecture is an emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape. In simple terms, it is the art of ensuring that data is stored safely and effectively to allow easy access and usability while also ensuring that such data is relevant to the users needs.

5. List and describe at least three reasons for why information architecture is important.

a. IA ensures that data is as relevant as possible for the users needs.

b. Well structured information reduces the cost and time required for more complex tasks to be completed.

c. User satisfaction can be greatly improved through effectively structuring information and increases repeated use.

6. List and describe the four key information architecture concepts that help information architects articulate user needs and behaviours.

Complex Systems – the complicated combination of the user’s need, the context and the available content

Invisible Work – the unseen processes that run behind the scenes

Knowledge Network – the network of systems that work to simultaneously store content and make it readily available to users

Information Seeking Behaviour – the way in which users go about searching for content

7. List and describe the three main information architecture systems that support a web site.

Searching Systems – the way in which a site searches for and retrieves information

Navigation Systems – the systems that allow users to navigate their way through the site. A navigation bar is a prime example.

Semantic Networks – determines how different terms relate to each other to aid in the retrieval of relevant information

8. List and describe the four main information architecture deliverables.

Wireframes – a visual representation of how the finished site should look

Blueprints – a visual representation of the various sections of the site and how they are connected to each other

Controlled vocabularies – the understanding of how various different terms can have the same meaning (Email, Electronic Mail, E-Mail)

Metadata schema – defines the properties of a web page

9. Five careers:

Web Developer

Title: someone who develops websites

Duties: ensuring sites are user friendly, function as intended and appeal to the target demographic

Employers: virtually any business that wishes to increase peoples awareness of it

Average salary: $67,540

Information Architect

Title: someone that structures data as efficiently as possible

Duties: identify user requirements, plans the structure of information networks and assists in providing a positive user experience

Employers: organisations that deal with large amounts of information

Average salary: $117,035

Search Engine Optimiser

Title: someone that makes web sites easier to find with search engines

Duties: modifying the code of existing web pages to increase the chances of it being returned after querying search engines

Employers: anyone that wishes the increase the online presence of their website

Average salary: $79,375

Professional Web Content Writer

Title: writes content for web pages

Duties: writing new web content, rewriting existing content and making sure that content is written in a way that represents the target demographic

Employers: businesses that would like to have the content of their websites as relevant as possible to the targeted audiences

Average salary: $40,300

Records Manager

Title: manages records for an organisation

Duties: manage all records from their creation to their disposal, provide access to accurate records, devising and implementation of retention and disposal schedules

Employers: organisations with large amounts of both electronic and physical records

Average salary: $69,630

10. The Information Architecture Institute

The IAI would be of great value as it offers assistance to anyone attempting to get into the industry and to those looking to hire Information Architecture professionals. This would allow them to easily connect job seekers with potential employers by essentially being the middle man for the two.

11. Describe what is meant by the term “information ecology”.

Information Ecology is a way of describing the relationships that exist between users, content and context in a digital environment.

12. What is content management and how does it relate to information architecture?

Content management involves the collection, managing and publishing of any information and is one of the duties of information architects.

13. What is metadata and how is it used in information architecture?

Metadata is data that describes data. In IA metadata can be used to describe aspects of content such as whether they were tagged manually or automatically, the levels of quality/consistency and whether or not there is a controlled vocabulary in place.

14. Explain why the “Too-Simple” information model is unrealistic for modelling users’ information seeking behaviours.

In many cases the user does not know exactly what it is that they are searching for or have the language to properly express it.

15. Describe how a web site user typically finds information.

Users will typically attempt to find information through the use of search engines, website navigation menus or by asking others who may know where the information can be found.

16. What is known-item seeking? Give two examples.

Known-item seeking is when users know exactly what they are looking for, what to call it and where to find it. This is the case when searching for a particular person on Facebook or when searching for a specific stores details.

17. What is exploratory seeking? Give two examples.

Exploratory seeking is when users have an idea of what they are looking for and hope to find something useful in their searches. This can be the case when shopping online trying to find the best product for your needs and when searching through related videos online.

18. What is exhaustive research? Give two examples.

Exhaustive research is essentially leaving no stone unturned in the search for information. One of the most common examples of exhaustive research would be with university students trying to find as much information as possible for their related assignments. Exhaustive research is also how some people approach but fixes, by finding as many solutions as possible before actually attempting any.

19. What is re-finding? Give two examples.

Re-finding is attempting to the find something that the user has already found before. This is the case when trying to find a particular news article that you have read before and when searching for the name of somewhere you have already been before.

20. What is the Berry Picking Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Berry Picking Model.

The Berry Picking Model is when users start with an information request and pick bits of information and move through the information system along potentially complex paths until they find what they need or refine their information request. This would be the way in which most people navigate the Griffith Portal site by clicking on a variety of links that seem related to the required task until the correct pathway is found.

21. What is the Pearl Growing Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Pearl Growing Model.

The Pearl Growing model is when users have one or more documents that are exactly what they need and attempt ti build on that by finding similar documents with more information. This is the way in which the Wikipedia site should be used. Wikipedia displays large amounts of information and provides links to the source material which users can also view to see exactly where the information came from.

22. Explain what search analytics is and how it helps your learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours.

Search analytics is a review and analysis of users’ search queries to more accurately determine their information needs and tailor results accordingly.

23. Explain what contextual inquiry is and how it helps your learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours.

Contextual inquiry is a method of user research that allows analysers to observe how users interact with information and find out why they are doing what they are doing.

24. Digital Asset Management

a. To understand Digital Asset Management (DAM) we first need to know what a digital asset is. Digital assets can be any format (text, audio, image, etc) that are owned by your institution. DAM involves activities associated with the creation, cataloguing, storing, retrieving and backing up of these digital assets. The main goal of managing digital assets is to improve access to these resources and ensure that they are available for reuse when needed. DAM is undertaken to improve efficiency in the areas of file management, metadata management, workflow, policy tracking and enforcement, and access.

Canadian Heritage Information Network – DAM

b. The first step was googling “Digital Asset Management” which displayed a brief description of DAM taken from the Wikipedia page and then I went to the page itself. The end of the article linked to the Canadian Heritage Information Network’s page on Digital Asset Management And Museums which provided in depth information as to the definition of digital assets and DAM techniques.

Electronic Records and Documents Management

a. Electronic Records and Documents Management (ERDM) is, as the name would suggest, a system of managing records and documents in electronic formats. It relates to how such information is gathered, processed, stored, accessed, used, shared and when and how it is preserved or destroyed. There are numerous vendors that provide software known as Electronic Records and Documents Management Systems (ERDMS) that are designed to aid in the management of such records and documents.

IRMS – About Us

b. As before, the first step was to type “electronic records and document management” into google which returned a similar result to the DAM query by providing a short explanation of Electronic Records and Document Management Systems taken from Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page mentioned a professional organisation named the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS). The IRMS About Us page provided explanations as to what Information and Records Management was.

About me

So as you may already know my name is Callum Slavin and this is my first ever blog. I’m studying the Bachelor of Multimedia program majoring in Internet Computing and with any luck I should be graduating some time towards the end of 2016 and be able to get my desired job as a web developer.

I believe that undertaking classes for Information and Content Management should provide me with knowledge on how to effectively structure any large amounts of data that need to be handled. Unfortunately I don’t know anyone else doing this course so I may need to try and meet some new people for group assignments.