City of Minneapolis Information Architecture

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The website for the City of Minneapolis contains some very interesting Information Architecture decisions. The generally repetitive and scattered nature of the site can only leave one to imagine what the wireframe of that site looks like.

Organization could be improved in many ways. I would first change it to a two column to reduce clutter and eliminate the style of the current news feed. I would also eliminate the repeating tool bars. They contain identical information and are just redundant and confusing. I would like to model my organization after the City of Chicago's site. I feel it is much more usable and effective.

The layer is also intersting. Some of the links take you to completely different sites unrelated to the actual City of Minneapolis site. This makes it much more confusing because your toolbar changes and is different for each site and you cannot always access the information you want to.

City of Minneapolis Information Architecture

The website for the City of Minneapolis contains some very interesting Information Architecture decisions. The generally repetitive and scattered nature of the site can only leave one to imagine what the wireframe of that site looks like.

Organization could be improved in many ways. I would first change it to a two column to reduce clutter and eliminate the style of the current news feed. I would also eliminate the repeating tool bars. They contain identical information and are just redundant and confusing. I would like to model my organization after the City of Chicago's site. I feel it is much more usable and effective.

The layer is also intersting. Some of the links take you to completely different sites unrelated to the actual City of Minneapolis site. This makes it much more confusing because your toolbar changes and is different for each site and you cannot always access the information you want to.

Headings, Illustrations, and Link Names Oh My!

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Again, I will be using the website for the City of Minneapolis for my final project. The style sheet for the website would be a very interesting one as headings vary from column to column and their area of the page. Illustrations are used only across the top and down the left side. Finally about 80% of the text on the page is, or is a part of, a link. It is a very eclectic website that will be interesting to redesign.

The headings seem to vary from column to column, but they also seem to vary within the columns as well...

Column 1: There is the toolbar which stays consistent, but below the toolbar there is a heading for "Results Minneapolis" which is within an illustration. After that there are some oddly linked headings that are sometimes bold, sometimes not.

Column 2: There is a heading for news and events that does not match the size or style of any other heading on the page. Following that, all news stories are fully hyper linked so they do actually match.

Column 3: The final column is another potpourri of fonts, sizes, and links blended with a few graphics.

All in all the confusing nature and variety of the type on the page are very interesting to take in. It may have been created by several designers at different times but all it really does is violate the three Redish ideals constantly.

Final Project Revision Ideas...

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Again I will be using the site from the City of Minneapolis. I will touch on three of the things that I am planning on revising. The first is the gaping pillars of blank that exist on both sides of the page. Second is the two "select bars." Finally I will critique the middle section of the page which is attempting to act as a news source.

The first issue, the gaping bookend pillars, is very distracting. The two blank spaces could either be filled in by stretching out everything else, or could be filled with ads or something. By stretching out the website to fill the void you would also be able to have more content above the fold, making it easier on the user.

The second issue is the select bars on the right. In total the both contain about 50 options for the user. This makes it very difficult to "grab and go" and could be layed out in a much easier way under different bars.

The last part is the distracting newsfeed that exists in the middle of the page. It is sort of confusing and leaves me wondering why it is there. It is probably some of the least important information to users on the site and is placed in one of the most important places that users look.

YouTube & Podcasting

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The creation of YouTube and the podcast have changed many aspects of our lives in how we operate, search, relax, and take care of our general business. They have begun to be an essential part of our lives, and have even literally become peoples lives by providing income and other benefits through wildly popular podcasts and YouTube videos like Grammar Girl.

Defining how Youtube and podcasts are writing bring us back to how communication and writing are becoming more oral in this cycle that we seem to exist in. It presents people with a new variation of how they are recieveing information and getting news and other things that drive your life.

Writing for video and podcast is probably different in a few ways. I personally think that the 2 column approach is more approriate for video because you know both what you are seeing and saying using that type of style. I do not think that form is necessary for podcast since there is no visual involved. The single column approach I think works in that situation best because it would cause less confusion.

Case Study, Page and Path

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Redish chose a very good example of a website in need of change. The largest problem the website has is that it is trying way too hard to do way to many things. All that it needs to do is be a spring board to websites for the other departments. It is attempting to also be a news source and many other things that it does not need to be!

The usability tests that Redish conducted resulted in some very good results. For one, I personally would have also tried to type into the "Select a topic" box. The agency description information they found out was also very important because the HHS had their selecting process backwards, you should have been able to search through agencies to get to topics, not topics to agencies.

The relaunch of the HHS website provides a much more conducive experience for the user. One of the most important things Redish pointed out that she learned is " If you don't have a search box in an obvious place, users will assume that any open field is the search box." The website I chose has many of the same pitfalls that HHS had.

The City of Minneapolis website is close to just as bad. It is also trying to do many more things than necessary. It is a news site, a job forum, an events page, there are two select a topic bars and between them have nearly 50 topics!!! Usability is a serious issue with the city of Minneapolis site.

Linear or Non-Linear?

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I personally see myself as a non-linear reader. I have never been one with a taste for personal reading, reading text books, or really ever reading for pleasure. Most of my linear reading would involve reading analytical sports articles or some other news that specifically catches my eye. Nielsen points out in his article that "16 percent read word-by-word" referring to web reading. This is compared to a far higher number that composes readers that scan pages. I find myself not only scanning webpages but another major form of text that I scan would be tests. WheneverI pick up a test I quickly flip through the pages and scan for words that tip me off to things I know very well.

Bolter talks at the beginning of his article about people who can read music and how that relates to reading. I agree that people who can actively read a piece of music would be more apt to scanning a page. When ypou read a piece of music you need to be aware of far more than what is between the bars and also take in all accent marks, dynamic markings, and a host of other commands that require you to look all over the page constantly. It is an interesting connection to make between normal reading and reading music that present a conclusion that the music has trained your eye/brain to always be looking around.

The book? Here to stay.

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The book is an essential part of the lives of almost every person on Earth. Libraries, schools, homes, religious institutions, almost every single place you go will have some sort of accomdation, or inclusion for books. Books provide a tangible item for people to seek out an emotional roller coaster on, a feeling that I do not think can be replicated as well by a Kindle or a Nook.

When Bolter talks about closure that comes with reading from a hard copy I could not agree more. There are many times whne I catch myself reading an article online that I do not see myslef as satisfied when I am done, a felling that I think I would get if I had read the same piece of text in a newspaper, magazine, or book. Reading on an electronic device to me does not only place more strain on my eyes, but I also find that I become distracted much more easily as well. As a sucker for newspapers (I prefer the Star Tribune for local papers (I work at the Minnesota Daily)) I think the novelty that comes along with it is also very nice. Getting the Sunday paper, pulling all the ads out, and reading the extended sports section all cannot be replicated by the electronic market to me.

Does technology change the way we think?

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Technology changes the way we think, act, process messages, communicate, and just about everything else we do in our lives. In the Turkle article she talks at the early part of the article about how peoples lives are constantly centered around the technology that is available to them at any given moment. People always have their cell phones available and that is always an option. Wifi is available virtually everywhere and int Turkles story it was even available during a presentation, which, I think is inappropriate for people to be using their given technologies during a formal event like that.

Chandler focuses on the possiblilty that technology can either cause social change, or not cause social change. In my opinion I think that technology is a main driving force of social change. The way people communicate "socially" today revolves in some form around our technology. In last weeks readings Bolter said that if technology could do anything well, it would be that it can replicat social interactions and also make social interactions possible. Technology is becoming such an integral part of childrens lives as they are now engulfed in technology and by computers at school and then go home and text their friends and play on XBOX live. Social interactions of the next generation are promoted and driven by technology, which, will socialize this new group of people to function in a completely new way.

Refashioning the Predecessor

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Bolter has some very interesting insights throughout these chapters on the progression of text to hypertext through the scroll, codex, the book, and now hypertext. The developments of the "refashioning" that occurs through this feels to me like it just is available to a wider audience. As each of these "technologies" have been refashioned it has moved to more and more people and Bolter says that people have become "more visual and less oral." I agree with this statement because instead of having just one person preaching a text everyone has their own and can read and analyze at their own pace.

Bolter does a very good job of explaining hypertext in an interesting way. I like the way he sees hypertext in a user interface explaination. He sees the hypertext as a normal screen and that everything on the screen, all of the text and other items that are present are all connected to future things which seperates them from normal text because he makes it seem to me that normal text is "flat."

Recent Comments

  • Lee-Ann Breuch: I like your idea to reduce the redundancy of links read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Billy, I think you are probably right that there read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Wow, that is one busy web site. One thing you read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Billy, I like your comment about the oral cycling read more
  • werbi003: Yes, I do think that I will be using this read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Great example to share in the City of Minneapolis website. read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: I had forgotten that point about reading music and reading read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Nice job commenting here on your preference for the book read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: You provide some very interesting thoughts here about technology and read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Billy, Interesting comment about normal text as "flat." Walter read more

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