Design an Information Architecture for a Knowledge Network

200 points

Overview

In this assignment, you will experiment with the possibility of facilitating and leveraging user-generated content from your computational work. You will map and build from the situated conversations of your knowledge network to create new alignments and website design. Additionally, you will engage in scaffolding user engagement and use skills as information designers to capture and (re)present user exchanges through site mapping. You will produce two site maps and an explanation for your design difference between the two.

Sitemaps can be an effective planning tool for both designers and non-designers alike. In one way, you have already begun this process by looking at the themes, topics, and information that are valuable to a knowledge network. Now will take a step up in scope and build to support that pattern through sitemaps.

A sitemap is a centralized planning tool that can help organize and clarify the content that needs to be on a web site, as well as help eliminate unnecessary pages. And a sitemap, because it’s basically just an outline or flow-chart of the content your site needs, can be created by anyone, regardless of their design skills.

  • Clarify Your Site’s Purpose and Goals for Both the Community and Organization: A sitemap can help you clarify what your site’s goals are before you start designing or creating content or help you understand how your site is being used. By deciding exactly what your knowledge network wants from your site and then mapping it out, you can ensure that every part of your website is reinforcing both the community and your organization’s goals.
  • Avoid Duplicate Content: Content, including knowledge solving and conversations, can be very confusing if it is located in multiple places. Duplicate content can create a situation where the search engines arbitrarily choose what they deem is the most important page between two similar pages. Don’t let this happen. Simplify things by making sure duplicate content is combined into a single page, linked to from wherever the content needs to be referenced whether generated from your organization or your knowledge network of users.
  • Get Everyone On the Same Page: Rarely are websites built by a single person with no outside input. There may be a designer, a project manager, a developer or two, a copywriter or content creator, and someone from marketing or sales involved, and that is just organizational side. Once users get involved, organization can multiply exponentially. A sitemap makes sure everyone involved in the project is on the same page organizationally but also help knowledge networks know where to go to contribute and participate.

Please note: 100 points of this assignment are gained from turning in a complete first draft for peer review.

Getting Started

You have already begun this process by looking at the themes, topics, and information that are valuable to your particular knowledge network. We’ve worked with different ways of thinking about paths and maps through experiences (Moreville) and infrastructure and categorization in terms of work (Bowker & Star). Go back through your notes on these readings and review your findings from Assignment 2. How does your community solve problems? With what words? What paths through information? What are their “experiences with arrows”? How does information moves through their tasks?

You might want to look at James Kalbach’s Chapter 2 “Fundamentals of mapping experiences” to think about visualization and data with this project, especially what the experience of your community of users will be.

Next, get some inspiration for the design templates that can help you think through this problem. Test out these templates visualization of one of the current sites used by your knowledge network from Assignments 1 & 2 in low fidelity mockups that look messy but help you make decisions about which map to template to commit to.

Hint: Make many bad sitemaps before picking.

Once you have that map of the site as is, think about your knowledge network community and the changes they require and need. You can either start with a list of those changes or with the map itself but move back and forth between each taking notes on how/why you would change each element based on your discoveries from Assignments 1 & 2. Once you have finished your new sitemap, organize and write your sitemap changes and rationales into your design framing memo.

Developing Your Sitemaps & Design Framing Memo

Your deliverables should address:

  1. Clarify Your Site’s Purpose and Goals for Both Community and Organization: Do you show/explain where on your new sitemap you make information design decisions to support your community or organization’s goals? Do you show/explain where you help users determine what their goals are and move them toward the best informational/community resources? Is your showing/explaining consistent across your sitemaps and design framing memo?
  2. Avoid Duplicate Content: Do you show/explain where you make information design decisions to avoid duplicate content? Do you show/explain where the current site information design encourages duplicate content? Do you show/explain where duplicate content can be avoided on the community/organizational site? Is your showing/explaining of how to avoid duplicate content consistent across your sitemaps and design framing memo?
  3. Get Everyone On the Same Page: Do you show/explain where you make information design decisions that will help users locate where they are on the site? Do you show/explain where you make information design decisions so users know where to go to contribute and participate? Do you show/explain where you make information design decisions so organizational users know what responsibilities they have in terms of community or site maintenance responsibilities?

Deliverables

  1. A sitemap visualization of one of the current sites used by your knowledge network from Assignments 1 & 2 in landscape orientation
  2. A sitemap visualization of your proposed new site or redesign of current sites used by your knowledge network from Assignments 1 & 2 in landscape orientation
  3. A short design framing memo that articulates your site map changes based on your previous knowledge network analysis and discovery/analysis
    • Overview and description of tasks completed to this point (i.e. Assignments 1 & 2) as well as purpose of memo.
    • Summary of discovery of community knowledge network practices from Assignment 2
    • Analysis and articulation of design of sitemap visualization of one of the current sites used by your knowledge network
    • Explanation of design of sitemap visualization of proposed new site  design for knowledge network community including rationales from previous research

Format

  • Google doc submission with integrated visualizations

Length

  • Two single page visualizations (current, proposed).
  • One 4-5 page design framing memo articulating knowledge network community’s interaction with current information architecture and potential advantages of your proposed site map design for the community.

Submission

A single document deliverable that contains the following submitted through google docs:

  • A sitemap visualization of one of the current sites used by your knowledge network from Assignments 1 & 2
  • A sitemap visualization of your proposed new site or redesign of current sites used by your knowledge network from Assignments 1 & 2
  • A short design framing memo that articulates your site map changes based on your previous knowledge network analysis and discovery/analysis

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