Think Info

Exploring the information space

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Anatomy of a web page

As much of what is published in this blog will relate to information as it is presented within web environments, I thought it would be good to cover off some general terminology I will use later. This is perhaps 101 material, but it is needed to understand some of the more pressing considerations to come.

Let us consider the elements that make up a web page. Read more of this post


Information models: out with the old

Look at most web sites and intranets, and you will see an information structure based on a silo’d model. This is neither how we wish to communicate our message, nor how the end user is seeking to consume it. It is time to put an end to this fallacy.

There is a simple model used by the vast majority of web sites. This model has its roots in the early days of the internet, when sites were an accumulation of pages manually authored and managed. The organisation of paged was bases on a folder structure on someone’s computer. It made sense to keep information about various subjects together.

And, obviously, as the web site was visible to the outside world, as an electronic store front, it was also important that everything be available. Hence, when viewing your flagship product, there was navigation to lead the user off to some other service you offered. Because – obviously – they were going to be interested in that, too.

The silo'd site

Read more of this post

How far does your extent go?

In the previous post, I mentioned the split of the information constituting your web presence into that within your controlled domain, and that in someone else’s: the distinction between content and extent.

What qualifies as extent is a somewhat fuzzy question; to what degree you use extent will depend upon your web policy. On the one hand, everyone seems to be adamant that they require a corporate presence within the social media sphere. Yet when it comes to the crunch, almost as many fiercely resist the idea of opening up their branded presence to the uncertainty of user-generated content.

On the one hand, there are organisations such as English Heritage which actively crowd-source images of their properties, for inclusion within their web site. While this approach almost certainly includes some oversight of the posted material, it starts from the viewpoint that those who will contribute to the source channels will be responsible. On the other, I know of (but will not name, sorry) a drinks brand with a hundred thousand Facebook followers, who desperately want to tap this resource to strengthen their branded site… but are hampered by draconian policies that forbid any hint of material that has not been scrutinised by their legal department making it onto said site (is it any wonder the latter sees only a few dozen visitors per day?).

There are many other forms that extent can take. Another, unrelated, blog of mine that deals with photographic composition uses – and analyses – other people’s images. The originals are on Flickr, and remain there. While the analysis is content, the discussed material is extent. And, at any time, the owners of that material could remove it, leaving the blog with unsightly holes. Read more of this post