Thursday, 30 June 2011

Structured Data

The best software is extremely user friendly and has great functionality. But what is often overlooked is the quality of the structured data that makes this possible.

Looking at two of the biggest websites in the UK and, the one thing they have in common is the quality and quantity of well structured data. This allows their web developers to create great functionality and an extremely well designed application.
Fig 1 - Filter a huge dataset to find exactly what you want

The screenshot above shows that within the user has very quickly found a car through selecting from a number of questions.

Interestingly, within this blog service (, these blog posts are well structured and may now be viewed in many different ways. Select and you can see all of the posts presented in some wonderful ways. Equally, the same content can be displayed differently depending on the device the blog is viewed on (PC/Mac or mobile device).

Fig 3 - Blogspot mobile device

At RIBA Enterprises we strive to do the same. Improve our data. And then provide excellent functionality and usability on top of this. A current example of this is with our manufacturer product data. This is structured to quite a fine level: (1) Product name, (2) Product reference, (3) Optional properties, (4) Default properties, (5) Third party approvals, (6) Links to literature, CAD objects and CPD.

By finely structuring this data - it allows us to display the same data in a number of different ways in a number of products:

Fig 4 - The Zest cubicle at

Fig 5 - Specifying the Zest cubicle within NBS Scheduler

Fig 6 - Specifying the Zest cubicle within NBS Building or Engineering

Fig 7 - The RIBAE data for the Zest cubicle on the manufacturer's own website

The work we are currently doing with our products and services follows this principle quite strongly. To keep an eye on our NBS 2012 developments and how the structure of the data gives huge benefits keep coming back to this blog.

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