Notebook

Explain IA is a contest created by the Information Architecture Institute to find the explanation of information architecture. Will be interesting to see what people come up with. I'd especially like to see the explanation that explains IA in layman's terms in a way that my non-techie mother could understand.

What is it? Why is it important? What does it mean to you? Some folks may offer a definition in 140 characters or less, while others will use this opportunity to tell a story (using text, pictures, audio, and/or video) about their relationship to IA. Anyone can enter, but only IA Institute members can vote for the winners.

To enter, simply join this group, upload your entry to your Flickr account, add the "explainia" tag, and then select "send to group" from the menu options above your entry. Entries must be received by February 11, 2010. Please see below for more details and to learn about our generous sponsors and wonderful prizes.

Grand Prize
The grand prize of $1,000 is co-sponsored by the IA Institute and Endeca.

To enter, post to the Explain IA group.

Rosenfeld Media have a book site and Ning community up for John Ferrara's forthcoming book, Playful Design: Creating Game Expderiences in Everyday Interfaces.

Game design is a sibling discipline to software and Web design, but they're siblings that grew up in different houses. They have much more in common than their perceived distinction typically suggests, and user experience practitioners can realize enormous benefit by exploiting the solutions that games have found to the real problems of design. This book will show you how.

This is a book I can't wait to read. It's to be published in 2011, but as with all Rosenfeld books, we get the benefit of reading about the author's research in-progress beforehand.

UXFind is a mashup that uses Google Custom Search Engine and Google App Engine. It provides a search engine tailored for User Experience pros. It indexes over 200 of user experience web sites and blogs. Oddly, they index my old blog iaslash, but not Konigi, so I guess the sources might not be so fresh. It's a great idea, and I've tried to do this in the past too, to just limit to sources I trust. To be honest, I always end up casting a larger net, however.

It's nice to have something good to look forward to every week, and Joshua Porter and Joshua Brewer will deliver by writing a weekly blog about user experience. Nice.

UX Lx, User Experience Lisbon, is set to take place in Lisbon Portugal next May 12 to 14. Nice time for a trip to Portugal. Speakers include Jared Spool, Luke Wroblewski, Dan Saffer, Peter Merholz, Donna Spencer, Brian Fling, Bill Scott, and Dana Chisnell.

Drawter has been sitting in my tabs for a few days now, and I keep coming back to play with it. It wasn't until I watched the screencast, however, that I really got to see how beautifully it generates markup and css.

Drawter is a web-based xhtml/css layout tool written in JavaScript using the jQuery library. It allows you to literally draw your website's code by dragging boxes within the onscreen canvas to create divs using the dimensions of your rectangles, and then to edit each div's style properties within floating inspectors. When precisely positioned, divs will be nested within containers, and nested divs can be floated within them.

Where this tool really impressed me was with the output of code. Upon generating the code for the layout, a clean stylesheet was produced that used floated divs for positioning, unlike most attempts I've seen to generate code from layouts using absolute positioning. In this way, this tool is not a toy, but creates usable code. The markup and css are also formatted nicely. Watch the screencast to see what I mean.

Drawter is available in a Pro version, which means that it is intended for webmasters use only - knowledge of HTML and CSS is required. It also requires at least 256MB RAM and 800Mhz CPU. It would be interesting to know how they'd react to getting money to integrate it into existing CMSes. They are also working on a simpler version that requires less knowledge of html/css, so this will be one to watch for sure.

I wanted to take a moment before I start the New Year's reveling with my family to thank all of you for the past year.

It's been a great second year discussing and learning with all of you via Konigi. I've connected with so many awesome UX designers by posting my thoughts and experiments on the site, meeting up in the NYC area at social gatherings and conferences, and in the exchange of little tweets here and there.

To end a great year, I promised to donate 50% of sales proceeds to New York City charities that fight poverty and homelessness, and you guys came through with your support. With your help, I was able to donate $800 ($400 each) to The Food Bank of New York City and Robin Hood.

I thank all of you who bought my little sketchbooks, notepads, icons, and stencils. Every one of them counted, and while the dollars may be small compared to what corporations give, I feel good knowing that this is a giving effort that's been powered by an indie spirit and hand made goods. It's felt so good that I'm going to make the promise to donate of a percentage of sales a regular part of what I do as long as I sell stuff on this site.

So cheers to the great UX community that I'm fortunate enough to be a part of. I wish all of a you an ass kickin' Twenty Ten!

Iain Lamb's Typograph is cool tool that allows you to explore the relationship between scale and rhythm by modifying the properties of typographic elements in a page of sample text.

It sets out to explore how two, intertwined concepts, often playful but sometimes cheeky, can be encouraged to dance in web pages. Drag the colored boxes along the scale to throw these words anew. For the most part, this text is just a libretto for the performance you are about to play upon it."