The architecture of a website seems to be arbitrary, and it may mostly depend on a designer's preference. Are there any common principles that we can follow when building our own websites? I was pretty interested in it when I was a senior student in university. Most of papers and technical reports talking about the findaility
and they proposed several common practices and guidelines. After read several papers, I found an interesting seminar: the IA summit
. It has been held since 2000.
IA is the abbreviation of Information Architecture
, which was vaguely defined as the art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software. A very good reference for the IA would the book Information Architecture for World Wide Web
by Peter Morville
In the book (p.49), the authors mentioned four important components for IA: the organization systems, the labeling systems, the navigational systems and the search systems. A well-organized website helps users quickly locate what they really need by narrowing down users' information needs using categories and sub-categories. The labeling systems should present users with exactly their expectations under the labels. Using the most-telling icon rather than the fancy ones that will probably confuse users. Navigation systems prevent users from getting lost in a website. For example, in many web systems, you can see a navigation bar never changes at the top of the whole site. The search system is another important component for helping users quickly locate the most relevant documents for their information needs.
How it benefit for us?
EdLab deals with many different web-based systems, such as Vialogues, New Learning Times, Research Broker and many other web systems. Do we have all the four basic components for the websites? What are the organization schemes in Vialogues? How well our search system can fulfill users' search needs?
My first time I logged in Vialogues, I was actually a little confused about how the videos were organized. Then, I clicked "Explore", which is actually a list of all the videos. Do we have categories or sub-categories for the videos? Will it be more useful for exploring the videos? As for the labeling systems, I do not understand the icon for friend request if I don't click on it. Maybe a simple way of using Facebook friend request icon will be a good idea. By clicking the "Recent comments" hyperlink, I would expect to see the comments, but it is actually the video. The returned videos for search queries seems not to be the real relevant ones. The search interface can be improved by highlighting the relevant query terms in video title and description (I think we should provide the description with each video). Those are only some general suggestions for Vialogues, Let't make it better!!