Exploring the Domain

Successfully Designing With Information > Building a Richly Connected Microsite > Exploring The Domain

To come up with a versatile information model, we explore specifically what we might want our users to know about the consulting group’s capabilities and track record

In a real instance of this task, we quickly generated several types of information in a brainstorming session, which we organized into a mind map.

mind map for richly connected microsite

The session took place around the whiteboard, asking in general terms “what types of information might our users want to know or might we want to tell them” and sketching the diagram as we went.   Sessions like this can provide a good starting point and significant progress can be made by a few people in an hour.

The mind map is not an information model, although it is a useful input.  It is sloppy, mixes information types, attributes, and grouping, and has no formal definition for the meaning of a bubble and a line.  That’s OK.  Its purpose is to ensure that we have surveyed the domain at a high level, and have not omitted anything important.

There are some other activities that can complement the brainstorm.

  • Content analysis: examination of the case study brochures can validate our diagram-in-progress, and indicate whether there are other types of content we should add
  • Ecosystem scan: looking for other places in the global information ecosystem that mention the consulting group often reveals additional types of information that might be useful; in the present case, we might find News Articles (internal and external), whitepapers and conference presentations, awards that have been won, etc.
  • Competitive or peer analysis: looking at what our competition and peers have done.

Two activities follow from our mind map: solution scoping and information design.

Solution scoping involves deciding which parts of the mind map we should focus on for delivery.  Information design involves turning the selected pieces of the mind map into a formal information model. These are the subjects of the next few lessons.

Next: Choosing an Initial Scope
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