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Forthcoming Boxes and Arrows Series on Portal Building Blocks

December 7, 2006 02:41 PM | Posted in: Building Blocks , Dashboards & Portals , Information Architecture

Hurray for volunteer publishing: Next week, Boxes and Arrows, is publishing the first installment of a series of articles on information architecture for portals and tile-based user experiences. It introduces a system of reusable building blocks that provides consistent structure for and lowers the costs of designing and maintaining portals.

The building blocks are a portal design toolkit I developed while working on several executive dashboard projects in close succession. I've used the building block system in portals, Web applications, business intelligence tools, dashboards, and content management systems: essentially any design relying on or incorporating tiles or portlets. The building blocks play nicely with RIA, AJAX, and other evolving user experience and development approaches, because they address information architecture concerns without requiring any specific technology or platform.

Follow up articles will explain the building blocks in detail, and how to use them quickly and efficiently.

The series will cover:

Assuming the response to the first pieces is positive (be sure to read and comment!), we'll provide a case study, and create a set of supporting materials to make it easy to use the building blocks for your own projects. The goal is to offer a complete package for someone who needs help creating an effective and scalable user experience for a portal or tile-based environment.

Aside from being a resource for the design of portal user experiences, the building blocks are the first attempt (disclaimer: that I know of...) at creating a reusable IA design framework for a common type of business problem / user experience / information environment. It's not as broad in scope as Jesse Jame Garrett's Visual Vocabulary, because it works at a more granular level of detail, but it should support design efforts in a wide variety of settings.

Those who enjoyed the 2005 IA Summit in Montreal might remember I presented a poster on the building block idea. The poster is essentially a preview of what the series will cover fully.

And it's a perfect excuse to try out Rashmi's new Slideshare service.

I'll be on holiday (in Jamaica: did someone say Red Stripe...?) next week, but will try to log on to catch up on comments and questions.

Hope everyone enjoys the articles.

The first article The Challenge of Dashboards and Portals is live as of December 14th

local tags: building_blocks, dashboard, executive_dashboards, framework, ia_building_blocks, information_architecture, portals, system, ux


Congratulations, Joe! sounds like a wonderful series...and it should be a fresh view of the topic, since you'll be refreshed by bliss at the beach.
One topic I hope you cover is any usability testing results you might've come up with. How usable is this approach, for example? How successfully are execs using these tiles? I think it's a neat way to shortcut the dev process, too.

Good question! I'll put up a post in reply.

Hey Joe, I read the boxes and arrows article on The Challenge of Dashboards and Portals. Looking forward to reading the upcoming familiar material.

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