Information Architecture & Usability

Hello! My name is Gemma Petrie and I recently completed my first year at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. I have a background in nonprofit development and professional experience in web site architecture, writing and editing, grant writing, content management, social media, photography, and event planning. I've always had an obsessive interest in both personal and professional information organization, but until I began graduate school, it was not apparent to me that I could integrate many of my other skills into this work. In fact, you could say I had a fairly narrow view of where an advanced degree in Library and Information Science would eventually take me.

This spring, I had the opportunity to work with the  Sears Holdings Corporation Taxonomy &User Experience Department as a practicum student. I was involved in a large-scale usability test for the Jewelry Department and gained hands-on experience in customer demographic evaluation, screener development, card sort testing, survey design, working with test participants, evaluating test data, and creating test reports.

My coursework in library and information science is providing me with a strong understanding of taxonomy development, information seeking behavior, and resource discovery. This summer, I am excited to have the opportunity to focus on my professional interests in information architecture and usability research through an independent study. I'll be working with Jenny Emanuel, the Digital Resources and Reference Librarian at the University of Illinois Library. She has extensive experience in usability and information architecture and she has already proven to be a wonderful resource and adviser.

Over the next three months, I will be using this web site to track my research progress as I become acquainted with some of the fundamental publications in these fields. I'll be sharing my thoughts, and probably a bit of my naiveté. I look forward to feedback, recommendations, and conversations with readers who find this web site.