Communication of Complex Information: User Goals and Information Needs for Dynamic Web Information

Communication of Complex Information: User Goals and Information Needs for Dynamic Web Information

Communication of Complex Information: User Goals and Information Needs for Dynamic Web Information

Communication of Complex Information: User Goals and Information Needs for Dynamic Web Information

Synopsis

The amount of information available for any realistic complex situation is likely to overwhelm most users as well as stymie any designer tasked with presenting the information. This book develops a foundation for analysis and design of the approaches to providing complex information in real-world situations.

Excerpt

Technical communicators and information designers are increasingly being called upon to address information needs which go beyond providing step-by-step instruc/ tions and involve assistance in addressing open-ended situations and problems. Situ/ ations and problems that can only be addressed by providing information specific to a situation and presenting it in a way that supports various users' information needs and cognitive processing strategies. Designs that answer these needs require under/ standing the complexity of the entire contextual situation and providing answers to users real-world questions. The design must assist users in resolving ambiguities inherent in the incomplete information found in complex real-world situations.

The intended audience

This books helps develop a foundation for analysis and design which supports the approaches to providing the complex information which people require to address real-world situations. A foundation which addresses the issues through a lens of primary audiences of this book: technical communicators, human-computer inter/ action designers, and information designers. However, I tried not to ignore the needs of the secondary audience of system designers and researchers, specifically researchers in adaptive hypertext and related topics. The work of these people is vital to developing the back ends to the informational systems I envision.

The issues addressed in the book

The amount of information available for any realistic complex situation overwhelms essentially every user and, for that matter, essentially every designer tasked with presenting the information. In 2000, Outsell projected the market for creating infor/ mation-content at over $140 billion per year. That figure refers to generating and maintaining the information itself, and not the typical knowledge management esti/ mates that include software and information technology costs. Interestingly, how we can go about providing that information in a coherent and usable format remains very much an unsolved problem. The design issues revolve around how to effectively choose, structure, format and display the information to allow easy access.

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