Our blog

  • What is Information Architecture?

    Souvik Das Gupta

    It’s often hard to define abstract, rudimentary and ubiquitous practices. Design is one such example which I’d touched upon earlier.

    Information Architecture (IA) belongs to a similar territory.

    Information architecture is the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.

    IA Institute

    Information architecture models are everywhere — printed material, digital documents, websites and even physical spaces (not typically thought of as information). It wouldn’t naturally occur that someone might have worked hard to make sense of mess to enable understanding and use.

    When it comes to defining information architecture, IAIs take is a good start. It attempts to describe IA through a specific activity. Several online references take a similar approach i.e. describing IA as an activity that involves drawing boxes”, arranging parts or organising, structuring, and labelling. This approach makes the definition a bit narrow and incomplete.

    Instead, taking a broader approach here’s an attempt to define Information Architecture—

    Information Architecture is the thoughtful, deliberate practice of achieving a shared mental model, and further applying it to make something understandable. Thoughtful, because it involves shedding biases and unseeing things as they appear (or are presented).

    Deliberate, because it involves making carefully considered and well-reasoned decisions.

    Practice, because it involves application of principles, theories, tools and processes towards a purpose.

    Shared, because it involves reaching parity in understanding of ideas and thoughts.

    Mental Model, because it involves representing assumptions, structures and arrangements people carry in their minds.

    Hope this adds to how we all understand IA.

  • How long should your website last?

    Souvik Das Gupta

    If you’re getting a new site made, or getting one revamped, go read How Long Should Your Website Last” by Mike Swartz. Few are clear in their heads if their website is an investment or an expense. This article does a great job at setting the right direction.

    Your website has got three core layers: content storage, content management interface, and forward-facing user experience.

    The forward facing experience is what most people think of as their website”. It’s the layer that goes out of fashion merely in 18 months. Another other important take away from that article is that the choice of CMS becomes very critical to determine longevity of investment.

    A typical content management system controls all three layers together, and they move in lock-step. Not ideal, but that is how things are. Through the life of a website the content types & storage probably won’t change much. Big perceivable changes happen in other two layers. Therefore the content storage layer must be very well considered. A CMS switch later is expensive, especially the data migration effort.

    Hopefully this will be discussed in the upcoming CMS Conference.

  • Apple TV Human Interface Guidelines

    Prateek Rungta

    Very well put together. Worth your time both to better understand the new Apple TV interface as well as brush up on some universal principles like this on Navigation:

    People tend to be unaware of an app’s navigation until it doesn’t meet their expectations. Your job is to implement navigation in a way that supports the structure and purpose of your app without calling attention to itself. Navigation should feel natural and familiar, and shouldn’t dominate the user interface or draw focus away from content.

  • Typography for the Web

    Prateek Rungta
    Tenmiles Internal Seminar
    Location & Date
    ·Chennai, India

    The web is at its most powerful when used as a communication medium. Even as it evolves supporting richer formats every day, text remains the most basic and widely used format for expressing ourselves online. Ubiquitous almost. And given this ubiquity, it becomes pretty important for web designers to ensure that the message contained in those letters and words is conveyed as efficiently as possible. In fact, Oliver Reichenstein makes a compelling argument that 95% of web design is typography.

    Typography is an important part of written communication, but not its sum total. There are other aspects like engagement and clarity that are just as important. This presentation thus begins by highlighting the process, setting the priorities right. It then goes on to some basic guidelines one can follow to improve the readability of the written word, and ends with a tease into some of the finer aspects of typography. The presentation concludes with two clips from Gary Hustwit’s excellent design trilogy that you can watch on YouTube: Michael Bierut on Helvetica and Deiter Rams on Good Design.

    Like any worthy skill, grasping typography requires time and effort. Serious web designers would do well to invest both. This presentation though was made to serve as a starting point / basic introduction to the subject. Hope it helps!

  • Knowing How

    Prateek Rungta

    Ryan Singer on learning apprentice-style”:

    It’s really darn hard to take all the physical and mental processes going on when you do something like design an interface and boil them down to declarative statements like do this or that.”

    Both of us here at Miranj are self-taught. Sure we’re qualified software engineers, but user experience, product design, system architecture, progressive enhancement — the meat of what we do — are all things we learned by doing and not in the classroom. This is not to undermine classroom education, but there really is no substitute for getting your hands dirty. And what better than a mentor with years’ worth of dirty hands?