From humble Low-fi prototype to live online campaign

I’m a proud member of the Information Architects Institute (IAI) and follow their mailing list religiously. In fact, I get stressed out because I can’t read every message sent to the list due to my workload. Their spirit of participation and the ongoing innovation of its members motivated me to share the work I was doing with low-fidelity prototypes a few months ago.


That was the easy part – I found it much harder to put my reputation on the line and actually show how I implemented the concept on a real-life project. I realise that I open myself to criticism as I’m sure that not all the UX and IA “rules” (BTW I don’t believe in rules :) ) were met in totality.

That said, here goes…

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Exploring Persona’s

I just got my first taste of real market research this past week. I attended a whole series of Focus Group sessions, peering from behind a two-way mirror, recording what our prospective clients where saying. I found myself trying to build a mental picture about what their motivations, needs and goals were with an aim to incorporate this into the new web portal I’m working on.

In business we tend to lose perspective on who’s ‘needs’ we’re actually building our business models on. It’s easy to talk about “user needs” and “clients” when you substitute your own needs into the equation.

As the strategists race ahead with the Quantitative and Qualitative research I realized that there was a huge opportunity for me explore yet another avenue of the great world of User Centered Design.

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The world’s worst Blogger…

…that be me!

So much have changed since my last blog entry – I’m happy to report that usability tests on our 3D website went down well. Perfect? No, but we fixed some critical errors and concluded that our system was ready to go into production. I will post the live link up as soon as possible – the actual website went into production two weeks ago.

Now for the curve ball. I left the company (TBWATEQUILA) at the end of May.  I gave up the wonderful world of advertising for telecoms/banking. I joined a start-up business unit within one of the top four banks of South Africa – FNB (First National Bank).
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Learning’s and frustrations of a marketing IA

When I first started researching my adopted field of Information Architecture I found myself reading through project specifications and wireframe documents a colleague of mine brought back from Europe. She went on a little visit to the greater TBWA network and the guys were keen to share their processes and documentation with her.

I later found a little gem on the O’Reilly website – Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. It’s brilliant book and should definitely form the part of any aspiring IA’s arsenal.

I’ve had the book for just over a year now and I’m only half way – I keep on reworking chapters’ over-and-over, whenever I get a chance. I even dragged my copy to Malaysia last year when I played in the Asian Paintball World Cup. Needless to say, I brought back my copy stained with orange paint and was forced to cover the book due to the water damage it suffered.

It’s NOT the end-all, be-all of IA but a great foundation. It’s like a real Uni-book in my opinion. You struggle through it at times not knowing how you’d ever apply or even remember some of the chapters but after reading it you find yourself applying the techniques without thinking.
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Conveying a new concept with low-fi prototyping

Here’s a follow-up on my previous, “Talking about Wireframes”, post. I presented the initial prototype to my boss as a pro-active project – unfortunately she never had the time to look at it and it’s now gathering dust somewhere, sigh. I just left it. I achieved what I wanted in my research on the subject though.

Later that week

A client-service manager at the agency had a problem conveying a new concept to one of our top clients and I thought that we could use something similar to help them out. Continue reading

Talking about wireframes…

It started with this simple 'storyboard'

I recently sent an e-mail to the Information Architecture Institute (Mailing List). I’ve been working on a pro-active project exploring alternative ways to prototype web projects. To quote Tom Wales (Yahoo) – half the documentation we do is “Bullshit”. Bill Buxton (Microsoft) mentioned that we tend to do project documentation just to convince client that the money they are spending on projects are justified by serving up a document that they can’t understand or relate to i.e. “I don’t understand a word!!! These guys must know what they’re talking about”.

I interested in using alternative ways to explain projects to client and internal teams. I want to relay “concept” rather than dictate design or confuse with complicated specifications.

BTW – I took me some time to muster up the courage to send my prototype to the IAI group. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge. I’m happy to report that I received some really helpful feedback from the list and I feel even more motivated to explore this further.

Check out my communication to IAI and my prototype video – I think it explains all.
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A blog by a “newbie” Information Architect

Greetings and salutations!

I can’t believe that I’m actually writing a blog entry – It was never something that I wanted to do. But hey! Here I am…

I first started exploring blogs when I gave up my position as Senior Web-Developer at TBWA\Tequila in Johannesburg. My boss offered me the opportunity to make a career shift and I have been working, exploring and researching my way into an Information Architect (IA) role.

IA InstituteA lot of what I found myself doing back then (as a web developer) paralleled with that of Information Architect’s day-to-day tasks due to a shortage of resources. I had to refine those skills and actually figure out what my core deliverables where. Blogs and mailing lists became a valuable source of information about my new-found profession. Continue reading