Blog 10

1. Describe the five stages of integrating information architecture into the web development process.

Research – Provides a contextual understanding that forms the foundation for development of an IA strategy. Begins with a review of background materials and meeting with the strategy team.

Strategy – This provides a high level framework for the IA, establishing a direction and scope to guide the project through implementation.

Design – Involves the creation of detailed blueprints, wireframes and metadata schema to be used by programmers, graphic designers, content authors and the production team.

Implementation – When the designs and strategies and finally put to the test. Involves organizing/tagging documents, testing, troubleshooting and developing documentation and training programs.

Administration – The continuous evaluation and improvement of the sites IA.

2. In terms of assessing technology, what is a gap analysis?

A gap analysis is the identification of the disconnects (gaps) between business goals, user needs and the practical limitations of the existing technology infrastructure.

3. When gathering content for content analysis, describe an approach that would capture a representational sample of a site’s content.

When capturing a representational sample of a sites content you should aim for broad mix of file formats, document types, sources and subjects. It is also possible that the existing architecture can be used to your advantage when looking for representational samples.

4. Describe the differences between structural metadata, descriptive metadata, and administrative metadata.

Structural metadata describes the information hierarchy of an object such as titles and discrete sections of content. Descriptive metadata, as the name suggests, describes the object itself; topic, audience, format, etc. Administrative metadata describes how the object relates to business context; Who created it? Who owns it? When was it created? When should it be removed?

5. What are competitive and before-and-after benchmarking?

Competitive benchmarking involves using competitors’ standards as benchmarks for your own systems. Before-and-after benchmarking involves using your own systems previous standards as benchmarks for your goals.

6. What are the benefits of competitive benchmarking?

Competitive benchmarking gives you a better idea of how your system matches up to the competitors to ensure that you never fall too far behind. It challenges embedded assumptions and avoids doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. It also bring new architecture features to the table that are being implemented by competitors.

7. What are the benefits of before-and-after benchmarking?

Before-and-after benchmarking encourages transitions from broad generalizations to specific, actionable definitions. It also identifies and prioritizes information architecture in the existing site.

8. What is clickstream analysis, and why is it important?

Clickstream analyses determine what path users take when navigating through the site and how long they spend on each page. This data, perhaps coupled with user feedback explaining their process, can provide very in-depth knowledge of how the average user acts when visiting the site and allows developers to base future developments off of that.

9. What sort of information can you learn about users from search log analysis?

Search log analyses provide details as to what users are looking for and what words and terms they are using to try and find it.

10. What should be the goals for surveying users from an information architecture perspective?

You should try to determine the users’ current level of satisfaction with the site, discover what could improve the site for them and find out what they most commonly are searching for.


Blog 9

1. What is the purpose of metadata? What are the categories of metadata?

The most common description of metadata is that it is data about data. A more precise decsription is that metadata is definitional data that provides information about documentation of other data managed within an application or environment.

2. What is a controlled vocabulary? How is a controlled vocabulary beneficial to a web site and/or organisation?

A controlled vocabulary is a list of equivalent terms, often in the form of synonym rings, or preferred terms. Controlled vocabularies are beneficial to sites because they allow for broader searches through content without having large effects on the effectiveness of the search system.

3. List the four main types of controlled vocabularies.

Synonym Rings

Authority Files

Classification Schemes


4. What is the purpose of a synonym ring? Give examples of terms that would be considered equivalent under a synonym ring. What might happened during a search if you didn’t use a synonym ring? (Give an example.)

Synonym rings connect sets of words that are equivalent for the purpose of retrieval during searches. Eg:


When synonym rings are not used the results of a search can become very limited. For example, “pocketpc” would not return the same results as “pocket pc”.

5. What is the purpose of an authority file? Describe how an authority file can educate users during search.

Authority files are lists of preferred or acceptable terms but do not include synonyms or other variants as synonym rings do. Authority files are best used for categorisation to ensure that all documents are labelled in a consistent manner.

6. Create an authority file for abbreviations of the Australian states and territories (Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory).

QLD, Queensland

NSW, New South Wales

SA, South Australia

ACT, Australian Capital Territory

VIC, Victoria

WA, Western Australia

NT, Northern Territory

7. Describe the purpose of a classification scheme. How does a web site benefit from a classification scheme?

A classification scheme is a hierarchical arrangement of preferred terms. These schemes benefit sites by providing a tool for information architects and indexers to work with.

8. Create a classification scheme for several major dog breeds based on whether the dog is toy, small, medium, large, or giant.

Toy Small Medium Large Giant
Chihuahua Affenpinscher Bulldog German Sheperd Saint Bernard
Pug Beagle Boxer Rottweiler Greyhound
Pomeranian Dachshund Golden Retriever

11. What topics would the following codes retrieve under Dewey Decimal Classification:

a. 025.524

Information search and retrieval

b. 787.87092

The Man Who Invented The Electric Guitar: The Genius Of Les Paul

c. 641.623

Food and Drink – preparation

d. 634.772


e. 522.29


16. What is the purpose of thesauri? How is a thesaurus beneficial to searching on a web site?

A thesaurus is a semantic network of concepts, connecting words to their synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, broader terms, narrower terms and related terms. Unlike traditional thesauri that help people go from one word to many, this type of thesaurus actually does the opposite and tries to remove the ambiguity of language to provide more accurate search results.

19. Consider the preferred term “car”. List a variant term(s), broader term, narrower term, and related term(s).

VT: automobile

BT: vehicle

NT: sedan

RT: road

20. Consider the preferred term “sword”. List a variant term(s), broader term, narrower term, and related term(s).

VT: blade

BT: weapon

NT: claymore, katana

RT: bow

Blog 8

1. Describe what Google Analytics is, the functionality it provides, and how it might be useful when designing/maintaining a web site.

Google Analytics keeps track of traffic on your website, whether it is increasing or decreasing, and can inform you where people are visiting your site from, including referrals from other sites and even geographic information. This can be incredibly useful for designing and maintaining sites as it gives the developers a greater understanding of how best to tailor the site to its users and even informs them of other groups that may benefit from a partnership.

2. What is the purpose of the “Admin” module in Drupal? Describe the various features offered by Drupal’s Admin module.

The Admin module of Drupal is what allows someone to modify and configure the entire site. The module simplifies the already existing administration functions and attempts to make them faster and easier to use.

3. Undertake the following tasks for your Drupal web site assignment:

a. Establish a Google Analytics account and configure it to work with your Drupal web site; and

b. Add the Admin module to your Drupal web site.

Could not add the Admin module due to the functionality of Drupal Gardens.

Blog 7

1. What are some of the reasons that might warrant the need to use a search system on a website?

A search system would be needed if a site has large amounts of content or very diversified content. These search systems fragment sites and make it much easier for users to find content relating to a specific topic.

2. Why is an Information Architect interested in search systems?

Information Architects are interested in search systems because they have a greater understanding of how search systems function and can implement various functions to have the system produce the most accurate results possible.

3. Describe the core components of a search engine.

The Search Interface is the area where users input their own query for the system. The Search Engine is the component that actually searches through the content. The content is a collection of all of the information that the search engine would be required to search through. The results are the pieces of information that the search engine returns to the user based on their query.

4. What is a search zone? What are the approaches for creating search zones?

Search zones are sections of content that have been indexed separately from the rest of the content to eliminate irrelevant content. Search zones can be created by segregating documents based on their content or by assigning documents logical tags.

5. Explain the difference between recall and precision in terms of search results.

A search systems recall is determined by the number of relevant documents it returns compared to the number of relevant documents in the collection. Precision is based on the number of relevant documents returns compared to the total number of documents in the collection.

6. Consider the following search engines:

a. Search engine A retrieves 600 documents out of a total of 8,200 documents. Out of the 600 documents retrieved, only 500 are relevant out of a total of 923 relevant documents. Calculate the recall and precision rates for the query.

Recall = 500/923 : 54% : mid-range recall

Precision = 500/600 : 83% : high precision

b. Search engine B retrieves 131 documents out of a total of 8,200 documents. Out of the 131 documents retrieved, all 131 are relevant out of a total of 923 relevant documents. Calculate the recall and precision rates for the query.

Recall = 131/923 : 14% : low recall

Precision = 131/131 : 100% : exact precision

c. Search engine C retrieves 700 documents out of a total of 8,200 documents. Out of the 700 documents retrieved, 0 are relevant out of a total of 923 relevant documents. Calculate the recall and precision rates for the query.

Recall = 0/923 : 0% : no recall

Precision = 0/700 : 0% : no precision

d. Search engine D retrieves 5,000 documents out of a total of 8,200 documents. Out of the 5,000 documents retrieved, 923 are relevant out of a total of 923 relevant documents. Calculate the recall and precision rates for the query.

Recall = 923/923: 100%: total recall

Precision = 923/5000: 18% : low precision

7. What is the purpose of a stemming tool? Explain the difference between strong and weak stemming. Provide examples of strong and weak stemming.

A stemming tool expands a term to include other variation of the term. Eg. computer/computers/computation/computing etc. The previous example is a case of strong stemming whereas weak stemming would only go so far as to expand for plurals of a term. Eg. Speaker/Speakers

8. What are two main issues to consider when displaying the results of a search?

Which content components to display for each results returned and how to list of group the results.

9. How many documents should you display in a search result?

The numbers of documents that should be displayed is dependent on how much information is shown for each results. The more information is displayed, the fewer the number of results displayed should be.

10. Describe some approaches for sorting and ranking search results for display.

Sorting alphabetically, sorting chronologically, ranking by relevance, ranking by popularity, ranking by users’/experts’ ratings and ranking with pay-for-placement.

11. When sorting search results alphabetically, why is it a good idea to omit articles such as “a” and “the”?

It is best to omit “a” and “the” because users are more likely search for something like “The Guide To Building” under “G” rather than “A”.

12. How does “best bets” ranking operate?

“Best bets” are manually selected recommended documents that are selected based off of their popularity or are chosen by an expert after their own analysis.

13. What are four key factors to consider when designing a search system interface?

The level of searching expertise and motivation, the types of information needed, the types of information being searched and the amount of information being searched through.

14. What are some of the ways search system designers can help a user when no results are returned for a query?

Offer the user a way of revising their search, provide them with tips and other advice to improve the search, provide a means of browsing content and provide a human contact if all else fails.

Blog 6

1. What is the purpose of security permissions in a CMS? What are the various permission options provided in Drupal?

The purpose of security permissions is to control which users are capable of performing certain actions on the site. Drupal allows administrators to control who can publish, edit and delete content, who can view certain content and who cannot.

2. What is a “theme” in Drupal? How do themes make designing web sites easier?

A theme is a design used in Drupal to determine how each page will appear in terms of colour schemes and general structure. Themes make designing and creating sites quicker by allowing users to change elements of multiple pages through one interface.

3. What are “blocks” in Drupal? How do blocks make designing web sites easier?

Blocks are what Drupal uses to hold the content on sites. They are essentially containers to allow users to separate and reposition content without resorting to manipulating CSS files or other codes.

4. What is a Google Ajax Wizard? How can Google Ajax Wizards make adding content to a web site easier?

The Google Ajax Wizard is used to pull information from third party servers and apply it to a site without the administrator actively performing any tasks. This is best used to update information such as news sections.

Blog 5

1. What is the goal of a label?

The goal of a label is to effectively communicate by causing the right association for the user while also ensuring not to take up too much physical space or the users cognitive resources.

2. Why is labelling an important aspect of web site design?

Labelling is important to web design because web communications are vastly different to real world communications and labels aid the process by providing the users with visual clues to educate them about new concepts and help them find familiar ones.

3. What are the aspects of a good labelling system?

As is was stated before, a good labelling system should ease communication with the users and ensure that they find what they need with minimal effort and time.

4. List and describe the types/varieties of labels?

  • URLs
    • acquire a keyword-rich domain
    • descriptive and brief
    • use hyphens rather than underscores
  • Page titles
    • should be 64 characters or less according to W3C
    • give users a basic understanding of the page
  • Contextual links
    • hyperlinks to other pages
  • Headings
  • Textual labels
  • Iconic labels
    • provide a more visual representation of the content
  • Index terms
    • can describe any content
    • represent the meaning of the content

5. Why do index terms facilitate faster searching and make browsing easier?

Index terms make searching faster and easier by providing broader results. This is accomplished by searching for keywords related to the search term as well rather than solely that term.

6. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using iconic labels.


  • More aesthetically pleasing
  • Easier to recognise than textual labels


  • Limited conveyance of meaning when compared to text
  • Riskier to use in most cases

7. What is the purpose of “scope notes”?

Scope notes are used to decrease any ambiguity and provide more accurate results. Scope notes allow the system to recognize some comparable terms as well, further increasing the accuracy of results.

8. How do homonyms and synonyms affect label design?

Homonyms and synonyms can mean different things depending on their context. Because of their ambiguity it is recommended to avoid using either of these when designing labels.

9. Why is it important to be consistent when designing a labelling system?

Consistency means that the system will be relatively predictable and allow users to learn how to effectively use the site quicker.

10. Why is it better to have a narrower scope when designing labels?

It is best to focus on a particular topic relating to a specific audience. This allows for more better tailored content rather than broad but mediocre content.

11. List and describe the key issues that affect the consistency of a labelling system.

  • Style
  • Presentation
  • Syntax
  • Granularity
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Audience

12. What are the main sources of labelling systems?

  • Your own site
  • Comparable and competitive sites
  • Controlled vocabularies and thesauri

13. Create a labelling table for a web site of your choice. Comment on the quality of the labelling system. Are there any inconsistencies? How would you improve the labelling system?

14. What are the advantages of using controlled vocabularies and thesauri as a source for labelling systems? Provide some examples of controlled vocabulary and thesauri resources.

Controlled vocabularies and thesauri are generally created by professionals with subject-specific or library backgrounds to ensure accurate representation and consistency. Examples:

  • Taxonomy Warehouse
  • ThesauriOnline
  • Controlled vocabularies
  • Web Thesaurus Compendium

15. Describe the three most important sources for creating a new labelling system.

  • Content authors
  • User advocates and subject matter experts
  • Users