January 2010


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Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez <[log in to unmask]>
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UofMN CSS Web Development <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 16:16:05 -0600
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And this, in the immortal words of Frank Zappa, is "the crux of the biscuit"
 (See "Apostrophe", truly a classic.)

A nice easy starting point would seem to be developing a set of shared
vocabulary / taxonomy for navigation based on user research.  That might,
eventually, get us to something like shared landing pages, etc.  I've
experienced a few failed attempts at getting something like this going, both
during the metadata analyisis of the UMContent pilot, and otherwise. I've
pitched doing some sort of U-wide "Customer Carewords" analysis (See Gerry
McGovern <http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/>), for example, that would provide a
user research basis for a U-wide information architecture.

The problem is that it costs time and money, and it seems hard for units to
find the time and money to spend on U-wide integration that may benefit the
user, but doesn't always end up pleasing / benefitting each participating
unit. At the Internal Communications
last week it was noted that there is quite a bit of real user
research being done, but it is almost always done with site-specific goals
in mind.  So many of our sites have become more usable and more
task-oriented, yet the mosaic as a whole remains unanalyzed.

I'm not casting stones here; I've been unable to make time in my work to
make this happen.  I firmly believe that the sort of integration we are
talking about will happen when we have solid user experience research to
help us convince the decision-makers that the hard work of content
collaboration and coordination is worth the effort. The Catch 22 is that
umn.edu domain-wide user experience research doesn't seem to be anybody's

OK, I've ranted enough. Back to working on my own "Cosmic Debris"...


On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 3:08 PM, Sara Hurley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I have sort of a practical question about this (not disagreeing with either
> of you on this, and the usefulness of this, and not wanting to be a downer)
> -
> What content do we collaborate on? Who makes the decision? What staff is
> responsible for coordinating efforts? Who owns the content?
> I know that isn't the fun stuff to think about, but it's one of the things
> that stands in the way of system-wide stuff.  And as someone who has
> recently been a part of a college-wide web integration, managing that kind
> of content integration is really, really tough.  Especially when non-tech
> stakeholders get involved in protecting "their" content.
> S
> Brian Hayden wrote:
>> On Jan 27, 2010, at 2:59 PM, Zachary Johnson wrote:
>>  Valid point... and to support what both you and Andre have said, maybe we
>>> need the opportunity to setup landing pages for relevant content more
>>> automatically...
>>> umn.edu/H1N1 could bring users to a page with important content and
>>> links to other UMN sites for more details.
>>> something like that?
>> I think that'd be fantastic.
>> Here's a hackish thought for you... there could be UMN wiki pages that are
>> just aggregators of links around the U for specific topics... and each of
>> these could have a z.umn.edu short url, like... z.umn.edu/h1n1 ...
>> Sorry, my inner Rube Goldberg took over for a second. ;)
>> -Brian
> --
> --
> Sara Hurley, MFA
> 612-625-7709
> Web Coordinator
> http://cpheo.sph.umn.edu
> Digital Learning Group (DLG)
> School of Public Health
> University of Minnesota

Santiago Fernández-Giménez
information architect / web project manager
Academic Support Resources
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

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