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COAP 2170 Week 3 program

In week three we will do two things:

  • Wrap up week 1 and 2 (usability guidelines review and usability testing) through a review meeting
  • Learn about designing an information architecture

Monday - Early design stages

Popular design and usability methods and techniques used in early design stages are:

  • Focus group meetings
  • Analysis of competitor's websites, e.g. with the tools seen so far
  • Card sorting is a popular technique for planning the information architecture of a website. It may be used to figure out an initial proposal and also to test this proposal with potential users.
Introductory videos
Card sorting activity (see also homework 3 below)
  • Create cards by looking at a Webster website and writing down a meaningful "title" if the most important information pages.
or get them cards for 2011 from here. Best bet is webster-ch-titles.pdf
  • Imagine being a persona (e.g. a future webster student)
  • Sort cards into piles (categories)
  • Name categories
  • Discuss and compare solutions

Alternatively you also can use an online tool, such as ConceptCodify.


(1) Review meeting preparation
  • Retrieve your hw1 + hw2 and look at it
  • Also on the N: drive if needed
(2) Review meeting
  • Students will present highlights from homework 1 and 2 and engage in discussion.
  • No preparation is needed for this (except doing homework 2 and turning it in before start of class)

Program: For each Webster website

  • Home page and overall general impression
  • Selected usability tests and results.
  • Discussion of the tools used
(3) Card sorting continued
  • Start / continue / finish card sort
  • Discuss precise homework requirements

Homework 3

(1) Complete the card sorting activity if needed

There are two major steps (see above for details or read about card sorting)

  • Create cards
  • Sort cards into "piles". Usually this should be done with several subjects (like in usability testing), but for this project it is OK to do it yourself.

(2) Write a short report that includes:

  • A short description of the domain (web site or part of the website for which you are doing the information architecture categories).
  • A list of categories that you found (you decide about the number and whether you need subcategories or not)
  • Describe each category with a few sentences
  • You also could explain why these categories should be appropriate
  • Short conclusion

Other issues:

  • You can turn in group work. Make sure to put the name of each participant on top of the paper. Also, I expect group work to be "richer" than individual work. Of course, individually handed in homework also could start from common work started in class and then include an individual report/view of the results ...
  • You can organize your report in any way you like. Just make sure that it looks like an interesting design document that could be used to redesign the information architecture.
  • Do not think about the website design. I only want you to think about structuring information ...

Due: Wednesday, week 4 before class.


Also suggested:


  • Tom Tullis list includes a list of software (last updated/checked Nov 2014). There are free tools for PC and Mac.
  • Suggestion: ConceptCodify. Commercial tool, but currently free. Login is required.