Demystifying Information Architecture

A few days I came across the term Information Architecture in the context of a web development position listed on a recruitment company’s website, but had no idea what it meant so I thought i’d do a little research:

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According to Builder.com’s article 10 questions about information architecture:

… information architecture is the construction of a structure or the organization of information. In a library, for example, information architecture is a combination of the catalog system and the physical design of the building that holds the books. On the Web, information architecture is a combination of organizing a site’s content into categories and creating an interface to support those categories

Sure thats all well and good I said, but how is it relevant to Web Development? … back to Builder.com’s article 10 questions about information architecture

Some Web design firms have highly compartmentalized departments that separate problem finders from problem planners and problem synthesizers, but flexibility is the key to success.

Information architects should meet with clients to help define a project’s scope, as well as plot the path to meet the objective and work with the designers and technologists to develop engaging and intuitive visual interfaces. It is important for them to be present during all three phases and to get a client’s objectives firsthand. Poor secondhand interpretations can be a project’s death. It isn’t that managers are inept at translating clients desires, but architects have special architectural questions that a business manager or producer might not be able to intuit.

It’s also important for information architects to work closely with visual designers, helping to maintain the balance between form and function. Design effects architecture as much as architecture effects design. Working in a vacuum of compartmentalized skills isn’t good for anyone, and it’s definitely not good for the end result. Information architects also bridge architecture with development and work with technologists, database engineers, and HTML coders.

So now I know What it is and how its relevant to Web Development, but how does it help the end user?

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has an easy to understand answer…

Information architecture (IA) involves structuring and organising information on websites to assist people to achieve their information needs. IA is the foundation of good website and intranet design. It is about planning where information and services will be located on the site in the most convenient and logical way for users. Effective IA can help ensure that sites meet business and user needs.

Australian Government agencies are finding that IA issues are particularly important when they are redesigning or redeveloping existing websites or intranets. Sites established several years ago may have grown in an ad hoc way or grown very large. As a result they may be confusing to users and difficult to manage and may not accurately reflect current agency priorities.

Lastly, having become quite interested in the topic I decided to purchase Information Architecture for the World Wide Web , a book recommended by many websites related to Information management such as Digital Web Magazine


Oz-IA/2007 - Sydney, September 22nd/23rd 2007
PS I’m a member of the IA-Peers Sydney Group and they run a yearly conference on information architecture in Sydney, Australia packed with speaker presentations, panels, workshops, and inter-session activities with opportunities to catch up with your peers, network your way to new contacts, and have a good time.

The 2007 conference will be held over the weekend of 22nd/23rd September 2007. You can get a $50 discount off the OZ-IA conference price by quoting the discount code:iapbcp

One thought on “Demystifying Information Architecture”

  1. I actually wrote a good comment about use cases, personas, AI and how it makes your clients more money if they do invest in having that extra legwork done. If only that question ‘Do You Know What AI is?’ was asked at every interview… maybe I’d get more than the dribble of work that comes my way.

    Sadly the comment disappeared when I wrote ‘my name is Neerav’ lol. It forgets when you go back to put in ‘Neerav’. Bummer.

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