links for 01 March 2006

what do IA’s talk about when they get together and drink?

Its not something I’ve asked myself on a regular basis, but found out first hand when I dropped into an informal IA Peers gathering in North Sydney last night.

My experience last night was that lots of people were talking about being semantic. Using tags.

For some reason, that surprised me. Perhaps its all the tag-cloud bagging I’ve been hearing lately. Perhaps because it feels as though tags have been around for so long now. (And they’ve been around for longer than that even, because tags are really just exposed metadata).
People were wondering how do we tags scale efficiently, and how might they work in enterprise applications? I was heartened to find that there were other IAs admitting to being dreadful tag-housekeepers on their own and Flickr accounts (symptomatic of the large scale problem of tagging and maintaining meaning & efficiency).

Just when we’d decided that we don’t really care about complex and formal taxonomy, suddenly the word ‘thesaurus’ just kept popping up.

The old and the new…

That’s why this is called Web 2.0, isn’t it. What we’re doing now is just another iteration based on all our knowledge and experience from years back.

I was particularly happy to hear more people saying that their roles are now more valued within projects than ever before. And also happy to hear that there is plenty of work about right now.

Not that I’m looking… but its nice to know :)

links for 28 February 2006

anti-Alertbox: Jakob says ‘Anchor links are evil’. Discuss.

Jakob says:

On the Web, users have a clear mental model for a hypertext link: it should bring up a new page. Within-page links violate this model and thus cause confusion.

What is wrong with this assertion?

Anchor links have conventions and mental models that are independent of other types of hyperlinks.

There’s nothing new about anchor links. They’ve been around almost as long as hyperlinks themselves.As Jeff Chausse points out in his recent post , anchor links have been around longer than image tags (since at least 1992). In the hotch potch that has been web design over the years, anchor links are probably one of the interaction design elements that have been applied with most consistency over the years. There are strong conventions around the use of anchor links. The mental models is pretty darn simple too.

Not only that, but these days, clicking a link can do so many things – anchor links and bringing up new pages are just a few of them (think RIA design… now, some of those uses violate mental models!)

My opinion: provided you use anchor links where appropriate (being where pages are necessarily long and broken into easily identifiable sections) and providing you utilise appropriate conventions for anchor links in the page (including ‘back to top’ buttons), then anchor links can enhance the usability of your website. (The obvious disclaimer being that you should, where possible, minimise the length of your pages).

So. Where do you stand? Are you with Jakob or against him on this one?