Part III Kick Off Meeting

Next we began talking about the things people do not do while they are using the internet. When we were talking about why we use the internet nobody mentioned that they used it to read, look images or the design of a website. After making this statement a few people started challenging this statement by saying that they do read. At this point in time Jenica stated that reading was not a persons first instinct and that nobody actually mentioned that they read when using the internet. The discussion got very lively again and there were still a few skeptics still in the room. I then asked everyone to take a look at the list of reasons we came up with about how we use the internet. Once everyone had a chance to look at the list again, I pointed out that reading or looking at images was not on the list.

Another common theme was that nobody mentioned that they looked at the design or images that appear on a website. When we take a moment to thing about the reasons why this occurs we can come up with many different reasons. It goes back to the simple principle that we are trying to get something accomplished or find a piece of information and therefore we ignore everything else that is not important to us at that particular moment in time. Everything else that exists on a web page just gets in our way and we ignore it unless we cannot find what we are looking for. One way to think about this process is that we are information foragers trying to get to what we need as quickly as possible. There is so much stuff that exists on the web do not have time read everything or look at each individual image. We just want to accomplish a particular task that we have as fast as possible and move on to the next item without looking backwards.

Next we moved on to briefly talking about three books that have influenced me in one way or another and how they are useful to the process of redesigning a new website. A few months ago, I had the chance to read Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works by Janice (Ginny) Redish. The focus of the book is about writing for the web; However, Ms. Redish does a good job of discussing design principles and how its relationship to writing content that helps people in completing a task.

Picture of a grid with on horizontal column and three vertical columns

Simple Grid

We then began talking about the importance of keeping things simple because it helps support a persons goal in trying to complete a task or find the information they are looking for. This segment consistent of drawing two diagrams to represent this point. The first one was very complicated having several lines and images that had no consistency what so ever. The next diagram consisted of one horizontal box and three vertical boxes to represent simplicity. Simplicity works to your advantage when it comes to the web. The easier it is for people to do something that happier they are.

We than talked about the process of design itself and all of the different components. The outline web page lists all of these different elements. For the most part the items are pretty self explanatory; However, some explanation is warranted. The fist important step is to gather the requirements of the project and to understand your target audience. As stated in the first Kick Off Meeting post INFLUX is helping the college libraries with this process. The next step is the first brainstorming phase where we we list out the tasks that people need to complete along with several different scenarios. After coming up with several different items we will than take these items and narrow them down to three or four sceneries that represent the college community.

Based upon the information that we gather during the first brainstorming phase will help in creating a list of words that will be used for a card sort. A card sort is where you come up with a list of words that represent different possible elements on a web site. After coming up with a list of words you give it to a group of three to five people and ask them to put them into different categories. Once you have done this with two or three groups of people you can begin to create the organization of your website together that will aid people in the search for information that they need.

The last part of the kickoff meeting consisted of talking about designing and prototyping. This is probably one of the most easiest parts of the process to explain because you can use visual aids. Essentially this consisted of passing out sketches and wire frame models that, I have created for other projects. This also made it easy to talk about the iterative cycle of design where you can show someone a sketch and ask them a question to find something within a website. After showing people a variety of sketches and wire-frame models we briefly talked about what Information Architecture is all about and how it is related to the design process.