Black Hatting a Website

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Black Hatting in the Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor has is not primarily about security, although it could be included. Black Hatting is about the physical perspective of a system.  Edward de Bono calls it the pessimist’s hat.

In the Black Hat perspective engineers determine the economics of goals, networks, data, processes, people and times. As part of the economics they will choose goals, hardware, databases, software, personas and performance metrics and place constraints on the logical design created by the White Hats. Black Hat design is used by the Red Hat implementation team.

Like the other hats, the Black Hat is worn with each of the Six Coats. The basic question is what logic can we support economically and where do we cut back?:

Black Hat, Green Coat: What is our business model?  Margin.

Black Hat, Yellow Coat: How do we navigate?  Compromise.

Black Hat, White Coat: How is our data organized?  Denormalization.

Black Hat, Black Coat: How do we process? Deoptimize.

Black Hat, Red Coat: How do we serve our personas? Satisfice.

Black Hat, Blue Coat: How do we meet performance requirements? Juggle the other hats.

Basically, Black Hat is about taking the ideal system and bending and trimming it until it is a design that can be implemented with the resources economically available. Black Hat also has a reverse purpose when exceptions occur in the transacting system. Black Hats decide how to handle an exception which is to reject the exception or to escalate it up to the White Hats.

Black Hatting is not for the faint of heart. It involves negotiation with the White Hats and often having to settle for less than the best. However, as the resources represented by each of the Six Coats is democratized and made freely available, the Black Hat job is becoming increasingly simpler for websites. Of course, this is not the case for all systems.

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Red Hatting a Website

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No, this does not have anything to do with Linux. This is the Red Hat of the Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor. In the last post I discussed the Six Hats, Six Coats Blue Hat which has nothing to do with Microsoft. The Red Hat is about the closeness to the intuition of the user. It is about the implementation of your own system. What transactions are intuitive and what transactions are counter-intuitive.  I alternatively call this the Mechanical perspective, because it deals with the mechanism the Green Hat, Yellow Hat, White Hat and Black Hat end up creating.  Edward de Bono also calls this the intuition hat.

Red Hat, Green Coat: How do we lower the barriers to adoption?  Intuition.

Red Hat, Yellow Coat: Who navigates our site? How do you support each browser?

Red Hat, White Coat: Who accesses our data? What DDL and DML will you have to write?

Red Hat, Black Coat: Who uses our processes? What approach will be taken to coding?

Red Hat, Red Coat: Who are the personas we are serving? How do you achieve the site aesthetics?

Red Hat, Blue Coat: Who is setting our performance requirements? What can achieve your performance goals?

Each of these implementations has implications for your website design. It will impact the positioning and emphasis of each of your website’s elements as well as your website’s behavior when those elements are employed. It will affect the overall look and feel of the site. When you are working in the Red Hat perspective you are asking yourself, “How do I implement ‘business as usual’?” You will have dealt with all the possibilities in the White Hat perspective and all the probabilities in the Black Hat perspective. Anything that defies your user’s intuition will be escalated back up to the Black Hats as exceptions. If there is a trend in the exceptions it will be escalated up to the White Hats as a variance. If there is a trend to the variances it will be escalated to the Yellow Hats as a deviation. And if the deviation is great enough it will be brought to the Green Hats as an opportunity.

The Six Hats metaphor can be used for any system. I plan to branch out my examples over time.

Blue Hatting a Website

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Blue Hat in the Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor deals with convenience.  Blue Hat is the first impression your traffic gets–convenience of goals, networks, data, processes, people and times.  When it comes to the web, if any of these aspects of convenience are not met you are going to lose traffic before anything is captured by your website’s system.  Let’s look at each of these aspects in turn.  Edward de Bono calls this the data hat.

Blue Hat, Green Coat:  When are the the goals of the site clearly communicated.   This is the message your evangelists are getting out and getting out often.  Be it an SEO or a customer.

Blue Hat, Yellow Coat:  When is the site navigated?  If your audience is getting a garbled presentation on their browser, they are not going to stick around to figure it out.

Blue Hat, White Coat:  When is the data accessed?  Tables of data that obfuscate information through redundancy cause users eyes to glaze over and their index fingers to click the back button.

Blue Hat, Black Coat:  When are the processes activated?  Maintain a sense of orientation as any action is executed or the user will abort.

Blue Hat, Red Coat:  When do the personas use the site?  Don’t be innovative if your users are averse to innovation.

Blue Hat, Blue Coat: When is performance required?  If you are taking too long to load flash or dowload data and traffic is cutting and running it’s time to consider communicating in different formats or increasing bandwidth.

This is Blue Hat for a website.  Blue Hat metaphors are equally applicable in any system you are working with be it business, government, not-for-profits, media or technology.

Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data

In my Six Hats, Six Coats and Six Ring metaphors I have been discussing this diagram:

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It can also be presented as follows:

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It has been a challenge to the traditional Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom hierarchy by introducing not one, but three forms of data.  I call them Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data.

Blue Data or Reflex Data is data that affects the system, but is not necessarily captured at all. It influences a transaction, but requires techniques external to regular data capture to record. Some of the most subtle aspects of design influence this level of a transaction.  This is when a customer leaves a website because the Flash presentation takes too long to load.

Red Data or Intuitive Data is registered by the system, but does not generate any exceptions or variances. Although the data affects the bottom line it does not register in the cognitive-physical or cognitive levels of the system.  This is “business as usual” data.

Black Data or Exception Data is registered by higher levels of the system.  This is data that calls for physical-cognitive response outside the domain of normal operation.  An example would be a customer having to make two orders of nine units and one order of seven units because the system cannot capture more than nine units in one transaction.

I believe that for the Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom model to be complete it has to recognize the significance of Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data. For business to truly be successful, it not only has to ascend the DIKW hierarchy, it has to descend the hierarchy below the traditional definition of data and recognize all of data’s facets.

And what is Information, Knowledge and Wisdom, but higher forms of data?