1. What is the goal of a label?
Labelling is a form of representation. It is performed in conjunction with grouping and is part of the process of organising. The goal of a label is to communicate information effectively by triggering the right association in the user’s mind and to communicate efficiently; that is, to convey meaning without taking up too much of a page’s vertical space or a user’s cognitive space.
2. Why is labelling an important aspect of web site design?
Prerecorded or canned communications are very different from interactive real-time communications. When we talk with another person, we rely on constant user feedback to help us hone the way we get our message across.
Unfortunately, when we “converse” with users through the web sites we design, the feedback isn’t quite so immediate, if it exists at all. There are certainly exceptions—blogs, for example—but in most cases a site serves as an intermediary that slowly translates messages from the site’s owners and authors to users, and back again. This “telephone game” muddies the message. So in such a disintermediated medium with few visual cues, communicating is harder, and labelling is therefore more important.
3. What are the aspects of a good labelling system?
To minimise this disconnect, information architects must try their best to design labels that speak the same language as a site’s users while reflecting its content. And, just as in a dialogue, when there is a question or confusion over a label, there should be clarification and explanation. Labels should educate users about new concepts and help them quickly identify familiar ones.
4. List and describe the types/varieties of labels.
Acquire a keyword-rich domain name, eg: Toys”R”Us, Phones 4U
As descriptive and brief as possible, eg: http://www.diyswimmingpools.com
To use hyphens, do not use underscores, eg: http://www.free-wedding-invitation.com
The URL should reflect this with folders and subfolders, eg: http://www.yourdomain.com/product-categoryA/product1.html
Buying an existing domain
Utilise a Free Domain Suggestion Tool: http://www.domainexposer.com
The page name used can have a dramatic effect on the user’s understanding of a web site through the use of persuasive labels (verb-noun construct which serves as a call-to-action), 64 characters or less (W3C guidelines) and the appropriate use of capitalisation.
Order Luxury Business Cards Online
Luxury Business Cards –Order Business Cards Online
Luxury Business Cards –Order Luxury Business Cards Online
Labels as Contextual Links: Hyperlinks to chunks of information on other pages or to another location on the same page
Labels as Headings: Labels that simply describe the content that follows them, just as print headings do
Labels as Navigation Systems Choices: Labels representing the options in navigation systems
Labels as Index Terms: Keywords, tags, and subject headings that represent content for searching or browsing.
Icons can represent information in much the same way as text can. We see them most frequently used as navigation system labels. The problem with iconic labels is that they constitute a much more limited language than text. That’s why they’re more typically used for navigation system or small organization system labels. Users might need to learn the meaning, and designers may need to provide accompanying textual explanations.
5. Why do index terms facilitate faster searching and make browsing easier?
The records we use to represent documents in content management systems and other databases typically include fields for index terms, which are often heard but not seen: they come into play only when you search. Similarly, index terms may be hidden as embedded metadata in an HTML document’s
<TITLE> tags. For example, a furniture manufacturer’s site might list the following index terms in the
<META...> tags of records for its upholstered items:
<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="upholstery, upholstered, sofa, couch, loveseat, love seat, sectional, armchair, arm chair, easy chair, chaise lounge">
So a search on “sofa” would retrieve the page with these index terms even if the term “sofa” doesn’t appear anywhere in the page’s text. Using index terms from controlled vocabularies or thesauri is a systematic approach to labelling.
6. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using iconic labels.
Iconic labels add aesthetic quality to a site, and as long as they don’t compromise the site’s usability, there’s no reason not to use them. In fact, if your site’s users visit regularly, the iconic “language” might get established in their minds through repeated exposure. In such situations, icons are an especially useful shorthand, both representational and easy to visually recognize—a double bonus.
Icons can represent information in much the same way as text can. The problem with iconic labels is that they constitute a much more limited language than text. That’s why they’re more typically used for navigation system or small organisation system labels, where the list of options is small, than for larger sets of labels such as index terms, where iconic “vocabularies” are quickly outstripped. Most users probably won’t understand the iconic labels immediately. They might need to learn the meaning. Designer may need to provide accompanying textual explanations for the icons.
7. What is the purpose of “scope notes”?
Scope notes are brief descriptions to describe navigational labels, normally to augment it when initially introduced on the main page.
8. How do homonyms and synonyms affect label design?
Homonyms: word that sound the same but have different meanings
Synonyms: different words that mean the same or a similar thing
Language is simply too ambiguous for you to ever feel confident that you’ve perfected a label. There are always synonyms and homonyms to worry about, and different contexts influence our understanding of what a particular term means.
9. Why is it important to be consistent when designing a labelling system?
Consistency means predictability, and systems that are predictable are simply easier to learn. You see one or two labels, and then you know what to expect from the rest—if the system is consistent. This is especially important for first-time visitors to a site, but consistency benefits all users by making labeling easy to learn, easy to use, and therefore invisible.
10. Why is it better to have a narrower scope when designing labels?
If we focus our sites on a more defined audience, we reduce the number of possible perspectives on what a label means. Sticking to fewer subject domains achieves more obvious and effective representation. A narrower business context means clearer goals for the site, its architecture, and therefore its labels.
To put it another way, labeling is easier if your site’s content, users, and context are kept simple and focused. If you are planning any aspect of your site’s scope—who will use it, what content it will contain, and how, when, and why it should be used—erring toward simplicity will make your labels more effective.
If your site must be a jack of all trades, avoid using labels that address the entire site’s content. But in the other areas of labeling, modularizing and simplifying content into subsites that meet the needs of specific audiences will enable you to design more modular, simpler collections of labels to address those specific areas.
11. List and describe the key issues that affect the consistency of a labelling system.
Haphazard usage of punctuation and case is a common problem within labeling systems, and can be addressed, if not eliminated, by using style guides.
Consistent application of fonts, font sizes, colors, whitespace, and grouping can help visually reinforce the systematic nature of a group of labels.
Within a specific labeling system, consider choosing a single syntactical approach and sticking with it.
Within a labeling system, it can be helpful to present labels that are roughly equal in their specificity.
Users can be tripped up by noticeable gaps in a labeling system. For example, if a clothing retailer’s site lists “pants,” “ties,” and “shoes,” while somehow omitting “shirts,” we may feel like something’s wrong. A comprehensive scope also helps users do a better job of quickly scanning and inferring the content a site will provide.
Consider the languages of your site’s major audiences. If each audience uses a very different terminology, you may have to develop a separate labeling system for each audience, even if these systems are describing exactly the same content.
12. What are the main sources of labelling systems?
Existing labeling systems might include the labels currently on your site, or comparable or competitors’ sites. Study, learn, and “borrow” from what you find on other sites. And keep in mind that a major benefit of examining existing labeling systems is that they’re systems—they’re more than odd, miscellaneous labels that don’t necessarily fit together.
A useful approach is to capture the existing labels in a single document. To do so, walk through the entire site, either manually or automatically, and gather the labels. You might consider assembling them in a simple table containing a list or outline of each label and the documents it represents.
Arranging labels in a table provides a more condensed, complete, and accurate view of a site’s navigation labels as a system.
Comparable and competitive sites
If you don’t have a site in place or are looking for new ideas, look elsewhere for labeling systems. Determine beforehand what your audiences’ needs are most likely to be, and then surf your competitors’ sites, borrowing what works and noting what doesn’t.
If you surf multiple competitive or comparative sites, you may find that labeling patterns emerge. These patterns may not yet be industry standards, but they at least can inform your choice of labels.
Controlled vocabularies and thesauri
These especially useful resources are created by professionals with library or subject-specific backgrounds, who have already done much of the work of ensuring accurate representation and consistency. These vocabularies are often publicly available and have been designed for broad usage. You’ll find these to be most useful for populating labeling systems used for indexing content. Seek out narrowly focused vocabularies that help specific audiences to access specific types of content.
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?
To be updated soon!
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.
These especially useful resources are created by professionals with library or subject-specific backgrounds, who have already done much of the work of ensuring accurate representation and consistency. One advice is to seek out narrowly focused vocabularies that help specific audiences to access specific types of content.
15. Describe the three most important sources for creating a new labelling system.
Labels can come directly from your site’s content. You might read a representative sample of your site’s content and jot down a few descriptive keywords for each document along the way. There are software tools now available that can perform auto-extraction of meaningful terms from content. These tools can save you quite a bit of time if you face a huge body of content.
Another manual approach is to ask content authors to suggest labels for their own content. However, even when authors select terms from a controlled vocabulary to label their content, they don’t necessarily do it with the realization that their document is only one of many in a broader collection. So they might not use a sufficiently specific label. And few authors happen to be professional indexers.
User advocates and subject matter experts
Another approach is to find advanced users or user advocates who can speak on the users’ behalf. Such people may include librarians, switchboard operators, or subject matter experts (SMEs) who are familiar with the users’ information needs in a larger context. Some of these people—reference librarians, for example—keep logs of what users want; all will have a good innate sense of users’ needs by dint of constant interaction.
16. What is meant by the term “subject matter expert”?
Subject matter experts (SMEs) should have special, in-depth knowledge from both a business and IT perspective that when shared with others, significantly enhances performance within the organization. They should bring real-world examples, best
practices, and tricks of the trade that will positively impact your business. They should be the go-to resource who helps resolve complex issues. Most importantly, they should be
able to hit the ground running once they understand your unique environment and work independently to deliver project tasks.
17. What is card sorting? Describe how card sorting can be useful for creating a labelling system.
Card sort exercises are one of the best ways to learn how your users would use information. There are two basic varieties of card sorts: open and closed.
Open card sorts allow subjects to cluster labels for existing content into their own categories and then label those categories (and clearly, card sorting is useful when designing organization systems as well as labeling systems).
Closed card sorts provide subjects with existing categories and ask them to sort content into those categories. At the start of a closed card sort, you can ask users to explain what they think each category label represents and compare these definitions to your own.
18. What is meant by the term “folksonomic tagging”?
Folksonomies also known as social tagging, are user-defined metadata collections. Users do not deliberately create folksonomies and there is rarely a prescribed purpose, but a folksonomy evolves when many users create or store content at particular sites and identify what they think the content is about.
19. What is search log analysis? Why is it useful/important?
Analyzing search queries is a great way to understand the types of labels your site’s visitors typically use. These are the labels that users use to describe their own information needs in their own language. You may notice the use (or lack thereof) of acronyms, product names, and other jargon, which could impact your own willingness to use jargony labels. You might notice that users’ queries use single or multiple terms, which could affect your own choice of short or long labels. And you might find that users simply aren’t using the terms you thought they would for certain concepts. You may decide to change your labels accordingly, or use a thesaurus-style lookup to connect a user-supplied term.
20. What is an embedded navigation system? What are the three types of embedded navigation systems?
Navigation systems are composed of several basic elements, or subsystems. First, we have the global, local, and contextual navigation systems that are integrated within the web pages themselves. These embedded navigation systems are typically wrapped around and infused within the content of the site. They provide both context and flexibility, helping users understand where they are and where they can go.
21. What is a supplemental navigation system? What are the three types of supplemental navigation systems?
We have supplemental navigation systems such as sitemaps, indexes, and guides that exist outside the content-bearing pages. Similar to search, these supplemental navigation systems provide different ways of accessing the same information. Sitemaps provide a bird’s-eye view of the site. A to Z indexes allow direct access to content. And guides often feature linear navigation customized to a specific audience, task, or topic.
22. Describe the main types of built-in web browser navigation.
Open URL allows direct access to any page on a web site.
Back and Forward provide a bidirectional backtracking capability.
The History menu allows random access to pages visited during the current session, and
Bookmark or Favorites enables users to save the location of specific pages for future reference.
Web browsers also go beyond the Back button to support a “bread crumbs” feature by color-coding hypertext links.
By default, unvisited hypertext links are one color and visited hypertext links are another. This feature helps users see where they have and haven’t been and can help them to retrace their steps through a web site.
As the user passes the cursor over a hypertext link, the destination URL appears at the bottom of the browser window, hinting at the nature of that content.
23. What are some of the ways designers override or corrupt browser-based navigation?
The most common design crimes are:
- Cluelessly modifying the visited/unvisited link colors
- Killing the Back button
- Crippling the Bookmark feature
24. Apply the navigation stress test to two different web sites and describe your findings.
To be updated soon!
25. Describe the purpose and key features of a global navigation system.
A global navigation system is intended to be present on every page throughout a site. It is often implemented in the form of a navigation bar at the top of each page. These site-wide navigation systems allow direct access to key areas and functions, no matter where the user travels in the site’s hierarchy. Because global navigation bars are often the single consistent navigation element in the site, they have a huge impact on usability. Most global navigation bars provide a link to the home page. Many provide a link to the search function. Some provides contextual clues to identify the user’s current location within the site. It tells the user “what’s important”.
26. Describe the pros and cons of hypertextual navigation.
The Web’s hypertextual capabilities removed the limitations of hierarchical navigation, allowing tremendous freedom of navigation. Hypertext supports both lateral and vertical navigation. From any branch of the hierarchy, it is possible and often desirable to allow users to move laterally into other branches, to move vertically from one level to a higher level in that same branch, or to move all the way back to the main page of the web site. If the system is so enabled, users can get to anywhere from anywhere.
Hypertextual navigation allows users to be transported right into the middle of an unfamiliar web site. Links from remote web pages and search engine results allow users to completely bypass the front door or main page of the web site. To further complicate matters, people often print web pages to read later or to pass along to a colleague, resulting in even more loss of context.
27. Go to two large websites that support global and local navigation. Post screen shots of these two websites and highlight the navigation systems.
To be updated soon!
28. Describe the purpose of a contextual navigation system. Find two examples of web sites that use contextual navigation. Use these example to explain how contextual navigation supports associate learning.
Some relationships don’t fit neatly into the structured categories of global and local navigation. This demands the creation of contextual navigation links specific to a particular page, document, or object. On an e-commerce site, these “See Also” links can point users to related products and services. On an educational site, they might point to similar articles or related topics. It can also be represented as inline hyperlinks.
In this way, contextual navigation supports associative learning. Users learn by exploring the relationships you define between items. They might learn about useful products they didn’t know about, or become interested in a subject they’d never considered before. Contextual navigation allows you to create a web of connective tissue that benefits users and the organisation.
29. Find an example of a web site that uses a sitemap as a supplemental navigation system. Critique the sitemap according to the design criteria outlined in the lecture notes.
To be updated soon!
30. Why is the level of granularity an issue when designing a web site index?
A major challenge in indexing a web site involves the level of granularity. Do you index web pages? Do you index individual paragraphs or concepts that are presented on web pages? Or do you index collections of web pages? In many cases, the answer may be all of the above. Perhaps a more valuable question is: what terms are users going to look for? The answers should guide the index design. To find those answers, you need to know your audience and understand their needs. You can learn more about the terms people will look for by analyzing search logs and conducting user research.
31. What is term rotation? Provide some examples of term rotation for a site index.
A useful trick in designing an index involves term rotation , also known as permutation. A permuted index rotates the words in a phrase so that users can find the phrase in two places in the alphabetical sequence. For example, in the Vanguard index, users will find listings for both “refund, IRS” and “IRS refund.” This supports the varied ways in which people look for information. Term rotation should be applied selectively. You need to balance the probability of users seeking a particular term with the annoyance of cluttering the index with too many permutations.
32. Find an example of a web site that uses a guide as a supplemental navigation system. Critique the guide according to the design criteria outlined in the lecture notes.
To be updated soon!
33. List and describe the advanced navigation approaches.
Personalisation and customisation
Personalisation involves serving up tailored pages to the user based upon a model of the behaviour, needs, or preferences of that individual (we guess what the user wants).
Customisation involves giving the user direct control over some combination of presentation, navigation, and content options (the user tells us what he wants).
Since the advent of the Web, people have struggled to create useful tools that enable users to navigate in a more visual way. First came the metaphor-driven attempts to display online museums, libraries, shopping malls, and other web sites as physical places. Then came the dynamic, fly-through “sitemaps” that tried to show relationships between pages on a web site. Both looked very cool and stretched our imaginations. But neither proved to be very useful.
On a more positive note, social navigation , built on the premise that value for the individual user can be derived from observing the actions of other users, continues to hold great promise and is already on the fast track to mainstream adoption.
34. Refer to Blog 3 in the assessment component of this course. Design a site map or index for your proposed web site.
To be updated soon!