Cats and dogs, but not much else

INN533 – Information Organisation

WEEK FOUR: Reflections on council websites and pets.

Often we find that an existing system has been built as a monolithic solution that jumbles the raw plumbing of the system with the business process and the user interface. Unfortunately this leads to a brittle solution that can’t evolve with new user interfaces, new underlying systems, or new business realities.

– McManus (2000), para. 2.

In making brief assessments about Melbourne, Hobart and Perth city council websites, seen through the user journey of looking for information on pets, it becomes clear that city size, and therefore budget, is a principal factor in how much attention has been paid to user experience and interaction design, formal information architecture, and flexibility of access.

Unfortunately, for the council examples, this appears to reveal an inverse relationship with the planning and execution stages outlined by Garrett (2000, 2010), where usability considerations were excluded at the outset and information organisation and retrieval structures have become rigidly tied to portfolio and management focuses rather than those of users.

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Garrett on information architecture

Garrett, J.J. (2011). The Elements of User Experience: User Centred Design for the Web and Beyond [EBL version]. Retrieved from

WEB IA: Closely related to information retrieval [does he mean database retrieval?]

TOP-DOWN: Mirrors strategy for product objectives, user needs/rôles (p. 89) [compare with Downey & Banerjee Big IA].

BOTTOM-UP: Working with given information to categorise logically (p. 90) [nice diagram on page 90. Compare Downey & Banerjee Little IA].

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