My Blog

Learning online

16 January, 2013    

One size fits all? Motivation in learning can be enhanced by setting clear expectations and defining a direction of travel, creating a sense of where you are going and how far into the ‘ideal’ journey that you are. But the ‘ideal learning journey’ will vary depending on who you are. Learning has a lot to do with context. An expert in a field of study has a detailed mental model, a…


Places don’t exist

8 December, 2012     / / /

Cartographers can’t be trusted. It’s a controversial view (possibly), but I feel like they’ve always kept to the furtive fringes of society – happily knowing exactly where the fringes are – and they’ve done this for a reason. First off, maps are difficult to fold. Secondly and worse than that, they’re also full of lies. I’ll reluctantly admit that they’re the good sort of lies.  They’re the sort of lies…


Learning and being curious

17 September, 2012    

Curiosity killed the cat. Because I’m a dog person I was delighted. But as soon as we leave formal education, dog people and cat people alike, curiosity is probably the thing that’s going to drive most of our learning. That cat-killing compulsion will replace the person at the front of the class and take charge of what and when we learn. Learning takes effort. Learning something new can leave us…


the map and the territory

3 August, 2012    

“What a useful thing a pocket-map is!” I remarked. “That’s another thing we’ve learned from your nation.” said Mein Herr, “map-making. But we carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?” “About a six inches to a mile.” “Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards…


Managing information

24 April, 2012    

Content management systems, digital rights management technologies, search and user experiences all rely on well organised content. As a way of categorising content, taxonomy and vocabulary management helps you to stay organised and create smooth and intuitive user experiences. I strongly believe that information architecture needs to help both clients and systems make the most of  content. A content management system needn’t refer to a specific piece of software. All…


Content management and systems

24 April, 2012    

As an information architect and content manager, I spend time getting to know the priorities and working practices of the clients I work with. Content comes in lots of formats, flavours, shapes and sizes and finding a way to shape the messges of a client to the audience they’re trying to reach can be one challenge. But much of my work over the last few years has also been focused…


Teller – on how magic works

24 February, 2012    

In its most fundamental form, magic is about what happens when what you see differs from what you know. You seem to be seeing something that is really happening, you know it can’t be happening, and those two forces come into collision. That purely intellectual element of magic, where what you know about the world is being challenged by what you think you’re seeing, is, I think, a very pure…


Magic, information and interaction design

20 February, 2012     /

All projects require a focus on the result you need to achieve and the audience that the product is being designed for. It’s only then that you can combine and negotiate the needs of both client and audience to ensure that they intersect and the solution is a success. That’s a bit of a jargon-laden way of saying that a good project should take what the client wants and design…


On Moodle

14 February, 2012    

Question: You can’t just use Moodle out of the box – the basic Moodle install just isn’t that sophisticated Answer: Have a look at the feature list, all of which comes as standard with every Moodle download. Additional themes, blocks and activities are easy to integrate and the vast majority are free, open source code too. In fact, one of your problems will be to determine which combination of sophisticated…


Off-page SEO

18 January, 2012    

Link building Search engines judge each link to a page from another page or site as a vote for the page. Search engines are really just big popularity contests – the more links you get the better. It is not just the number of links that are important, but also the quality. Quality is determined by context, relevance, and popularity of the linking page, as well as the link text….


Keyphrases, not keywords

15 January, 2012    

Around 33% of all searches are for two-word combinations, 26% for three words, and 21% for four or more words. Just 20% of people search on single words. Search engines such as Google attribute more relevance when there is an exact phrase match on a web page (a phrase that matches the user’s search term), rather than just single words. It’s therefore more effective to consider and optimise occurrences of…


SEO – art or science?

5 December, 2011    

I think content on the web should twinkle and sparkle, so that when a user finds it they’re sure that it’s what they were looking for. Some people say that search engine optimisation (SEO) is a bit like throwing mud at a wall – and that the more you throw, the more chance you have of attracting users. I know what these people are getting at – but I like…


Choose your own adventure

1 December, 2011    

Navigation helps users to do two things – find content and explore. Content isn’t bound to a single platform these days. Good brands are really content producers – they tell stories about themselves so that audiencescan buy into their values and get a better understanding of why they should connect with them. And audiences connect with content online, sometimes via TV, through their radio and on their mobile devices. Audiences…


Tourism site – Sheffield Theatres

12 November, 2011    

The Forgiftede Lodge site is part of the Rehearsal Room for Sheffield Theatres’ production of An Enemy of the People. The copy on the site is playful and subtly introduces the themes and elements of the narrative so that the audience can enjoy the content before they see the production and bring that knowledge to the performance, but also revisit the site after their trip to the theatre and see…