Naming Conventions for Digital Assets: How much is too much?

Digital assets come in a seemingly limitless variety of flavors. Some intrinsic metadata comes along for the ride with particular formats, but without a robust metadata system and workflow in place, many assets will be “left behind” in any digital asset management (DAM) system. Use a systematic approach to naming: reduce the burden on users who need to open assets to determine contents, get those assets appearing in search results, and prevent misplaced files and data extinction down the road.

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Audience Modeling

Ever since Polish biologist Jastrzębowski coined the term “ergonomics” in 1857, we have been trying to decipher the tricky relationship between machine and human. Regardless of whether you’re designing front-end interface functionality or crafting an information architecture that serves as the clothes hanger for your content, user-centered design is undeniably a major player in achieving results. It’s certainly a crucial consideration in every taxonomy project. Project stakeholders often envision the ideal taxonomy as being “all things to all people”. It’s a wonderful idea in theory, but the resulting structure would be a chaotic mishmash that in practice fails to meet most user needs. Part of the solution is in the art—and science—of understanding and categorizing your audience.

Personas
Creating usable systems requires user research in order to understand audience goals, needs, and capabilities. This process results in a host of raw data, but the data is only valuable in its effective application to system design. Quantitative data can be measured, charted, and graphed, but that only tells one part of your audience’s story. Popularized as an interaction design method by Alan Cooper, personas are a decision-making and communication tool that can organize the numbers in your data, but also describe patterns of why actual users behave in their particular ways. This qualitative information is the meat of reliable personas. Continue reading

Subject Matter Experts and Taxonomy Development

I was recently in a meeting where it was said that a lack of subject matter expertise is a disadvantage in taxonomy development. This is understandable; it makes sense to assume that the more domain expertise a taxonomist has, the better the final information product will be. However, my experience has shown that this is not always the case. So exactly how does the role of subject matter expert (SME) fit into taxonomy development?

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