Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Some thoughts on the process so far

A number of things have been interesting throughout this process.

  • Words have been very important.
  • Words have been very difficult to find.
  • The process has been non-verbal and subjective.
  • Testing with the same people throughout has been very valuable.

A lot of the progress we made has been felt rather than described. It has been distinctly non-verbal. Things just feel right.

And that’s what the focus group people show in testing too. You can see when something ‘feels right’ to a person, when they’ve understood the sense behind the information categories (even if the right words haven’t been found to describe the categories yet) because they find things consistently and start suggesting names for the sections.

Not only has it been difficult to find the right words, it has also been difficult to see when the name of a category or item is causing a problem. Sometimes it was very obvious that the words were wrong but normally the wrong words just ended up in a very confused person who couldn’t think where to look for an item.

There has been great value in testing with the same people in the focus groups. Now that the sense of the categories is becoming clear people get excited when they can find things and when the structure makes sense. They have seen us progress through different versions of the hierarchy and can help to clarify things when you’ve become clouded from being too close to the material.

Having a broad range of opinions helped to clarify the philosophy of the sections we created. As this is a very subjective exercise:

  • Each of the items in the content list will be viewed differently by a number of people.
  • People in different departments may see a different function for the same item.

We needed to find a structure that the majority could understand the logic of and having a wide range of angles to approach the information from has been essential in helping us to do this.


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