Experiencing + Architecting Information

The Unicorn Briefing Notes give solutions designers and knowledge workers insights from modern information architecture and user centered design, to help them design better solutions and information products.

The focus is hard-core knowledge transfer, providing tools and approaches intended to give their users an edge in today’s competitive marketplace.

The learnings are cumulative, with each Briefing Note extending and enriching the others.

Experiencing + Architecting information
This Briefing Note is foundational. It explains that the user-facing view of information solutions is not great for assessing the quality of the solution and suggesting improvements.  The focus is presenting an alternative perspective, the architect view, that is much more powerful for understanding current solutions and innovating around them.

Understanding Users
This Briefing Note is foundational too.  It provides a framework for considering users in the solutions design process, focusing on user Goals, Strategies and Knowledge.  The focus is understanding distinct characteristics of the user and how they inform different aspects of your solutions.

Information Analysis
This Briefing Note provides heuristics for analyzing complex structures into its constituent elements.  These are also presented as a set of infographics summarizing the techniques. The focus is to introduce both processes and deliverables that give rigour to your intuition that information has structure.

Information Modelling
This Briefing Note provides a visual representation of an information structure known as an information model.  It introduces the notation, a small expressive visual vocabulary, and the practice the process of creating an information model.  Its focus is to equip you with the thinking to confidently create and refine an information model, using both information and user considerations.

Information Access
This Briefing Note provides a visual representation of how we access an information model, using a visual abstraction known as an access model.  This provides a systematic way of describing and assessing access methods.  The focus is to give you key distinctions so that your access design is logical, usable, and meets user needs.

Mapping Information to Experience
This Briefing Note shows how the information model can be used to generate a multitude of user interface ideas.  It provides a systematic mapping from the parts of the information model into interface elements used for information presentation, navigation, linking and filtering.

Information Places
This Briefing Note explores the notion of an Information Place, defined as an information environment that allows users to meet their goals effectively and efficiently. They are abstractions that let us focus initially on functionality and flow, deferring interaction design and visual treatment until we know we have the right set of pages in the right relationships.

Well-designed places arise from the interplay of both user and information considerations. We illustrate two main methods for getting information into a place, programmatically and using manual curation, and demonstrate how to evaluate proposed solutions against user goals, strategies, and knowledge to achieve good usability.