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), 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 Network meeting 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 domain-wide user experience research doesn't seem to be anybody's job.

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.


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... 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 short url, like... ...

Sorry, my inner Rube Goldberg took over for a second. ;)



Sara Hurley, MFA

Web Coordinator
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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