& Review * Features_ * Creating An Information Model
JoAnn Hackos, PhD, is President of Comtech Services, a content-management
and information-design firm based in Denver, which she founded in 1978. In her new
book, "Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery," Dr. Hackos explains
the content-management strategy that she developed for companies such as Nortel,
Motorola, Cisco, and others and walks readers through the stages of effective Web
Funny. Here is what our customers need to know and not one group
even comes close to this!
An Information Model provides the framework for organizing your content so that it
can be delivered and reused in a variety of innovative ways. Once you have created
an Information Model for your content repository, you will be able to label information
in ways that will enhance search and retrieval, making it possible for authors and
users to find the information resources they need quickly and easily.
The Information Model is the ultimate content-management tool.
Creating your Information Model requires analysis, careful planning, and a lot of
feedback from your user community. The analysis takes you into the world of those
who need and use information resources every day. The planning means talking to a
wide range of stakeholders, including both individuals and groups who have information
needs and who would profit from collaboration in the development of information resources.
Getting feedback requires that you test your Information Model with members of your
user community to ensure that you haven't missed some important perspectives.
You need to learn
- what an Information Model is
- why an Information Model is critical to the success of your content-management
- how to create an effective and usable Information Model
It's very easy to tell when a Web site you're trying to navigate has no underlying
Here are the tell-tale characteristics:
- You can't tell how to get from the home page to the information you're looking
- You click on a promising link and are unpleasantly surprised at what turns up.
- You keep drilling down into the information layer after layer until you realize
you're getting farther away from your goal rather than closer.
- Every time you try to start over from the home page, you end up in the same wrong
- You scroll through a long alphabetic list of all the articles ever written on
a particular subject with only the title to guide you.
What does it feel like when a well-designed Information Model is in place? Oddly
enough, you generally don't notice a well-conceived Information Model because it
simply doesn't get in the way of your search.
- On the home page, you notice promising links right away.
- Two or three clicks get you to exactly what you wanted.
- The information seems designed just for you because someone has anticipated your
- You can read a little or ask for more -- the cross-references are in the right
- Right away you feel that you're on familiar ground -- similar types of information
start looking the same.
Did all of these pleasant experiences happen by accident? Not in the least. Finding
the information you needed quickly and easily requires a great deal of advance planning.
The basic planning and design tool is the Information Model.
What is an Information Model?
An Information Model is an organizational framework that you use to categorize your
information resources. The framework assists authors and users in finding what they
need, even if their needs are significantly different and personal. The framework
provides the basis on which you base your publishing architecture, including print
and electronic information delivery.
An Information Model might encompass the information resources of one part of an
organization. For example, your Information Model might provide a framework for categorizing
your corporate training materials or the technical and sales information that accompanies
your products. Your Information Model might include engineering information produced
during product development, policies and procedures used internally in the day-to-day
conduct of business, information about customers used in your sales cycle or about
vendors used in your supply chain. Some of the information resources you bring under
content management might be available across the corporation for internal use, such
as human-resources information. Other information resources might be specific to
the needs of one department or division of your organization.
Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery
by JoAnn T. Hackos
John Wiley & Sons
|About the author:
JoAnn Hackos, PhD, is President of Comtech Services, a content-management and information-design
firm based in Denver, which she founded in 1978. In her new book, "Content Management
for Dynamic Web Delivery," Dr. Hackos explains the content-management strategy
that she developed for companies such as Nortel, Motorola, Cisco, and others and
walks readers through the stages of effective Web content management. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about her new book, visit http://www.comtech-serv.com
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