September 7, 2021 Mahnoor Afzal

Imagine you didn’t know the function, or use, of the building. Just by looking at the exterior, could you guess what it’s used for? Think about specific elements of the building’s façade, or its face, that helped form your conclusion. The two readings below set up why studying the structures that surround us everyday is so important. There are reflection questions for both the Huxtable reading and the Goldberger text at the end of this textbook. This chapter introduces our framework for examining architecture as the entirety of the built environment.

Data, Data, Everywhere … – iProgrammer

Data, Data, Everywhere ….

Posted: Tue, 08 Nov 2022 18:38:55 GMT [source]

The key difference is that there are visual characteristics that separate pages from actions. In this information architecture example, Bogomolova built on top of the basic site mapping and added in both child pages and actions. The addition of number values denotes the priority of pages in the information hierarchy rather than leaning on colors. “During the course of their work, they employ lots of different tools, methodologies, and techniques. Sometimes they look through a microscope or compare fingerprints in a database, or use high-tech lasers and gases to identify a piece of trace evidence. Other times they talk to people, walk the area surrounding a crime scene, or observe patterns in movement.

Methods of Information Architecture

Judging a building’s formal elements is objective, but the overall effect of these elements on the viewer will elicit a subjective response. The term delight is also separate from venustas’ connection to Western European idealizations of beauty. All of these characteristics demonstrate the sense of the importance the City of Hillsboro places on designing comfortable and accessible spaces for users of public transit.

defining information architecture

Again, this is not a complete list of every possible tool an IA may use but these are among the most common. Every project is unique, and the role each IA plays within the company is also unique. A conceptual model is most often a graphic, though it can be a chart, a written paragraph or a flowchart. The key is that it expresses an explanation of the system’s behavior to the user that is easy and intuitive-it does not have to be how the system actually works. Nick has spent the last 10 years working in the software industry with a specialized focus on research and development.

Tools of the Trade

He has a passion for user experience, and developing the design community. It refers to the way information is stored or grouped together, the methods used to travel through the information and the structure or system’s vocabulary. Information architecture, if done properly, allows users to maneuver easily through the system in order to retrieve the information they desire.

  • Gestalt principles explore users’ visual perception of objects in relation to each other, including similarity, continuity, proximity, symmetry, and closure.
  • Both are important to create a complete picture of the built environment.
  • Hence, it might seem relatively unimportant to DB engineers devoted to maintaining and improving the “back end” functions of an enterprise’s IT operations.
  • Explaining information architecture from Dan Klyn on Vimeo.
  • They define library science as the development of “knowledge-organization systems.” Library science is the study of how to categorize, catalogue, and locate resources.
  • His four minute talk Explaining Information Architecture is well worth a watch.

They also create a flow that lets users navigate between screens without much effort. If you want to build a great house, the person to call is an architect. We all know this, but architecture applies not only to traditional buildings but also to the information space. Similar to buildings, digital products require a solid foundation. Understanding the basic principles of good information architecture is essential for any designer who wants to practice user-centered design. Similar to Omnigraffle, Axure is both a wireframing and a diagramming tool, which is very useful for information architects—particularly those who are also interaction designers.

What information architects do

Information architecture is the process of identifying and defining those particular needs and creating a structure and nomenclature for them. To learn about the project’s audiences, IAs need access to the results of usability tests, card sorting exercises, stakeholder interviews, and user interviews, just to name a few. Often, an information architect will take an active role in facilitating interviews or card sorts, where they can see how a prospective user would categorize a variety of terms.

This exercise typically follows the user research and content inventory processes. The IA might classify the items using categories, sections, or metadata tags. During this process, it’s important to remember that the product’s content and functionality will grow, so the way it’s organized must be easily scalable.

Some of Libeskind’s buildings include the Jewish Museum Berlin in Berlin, Germany , the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada , and the World Trade Center Master Plan, New York, NY . The person who creates the structure or map of information that allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge. The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems in web sites and intranets. In our last article, we discussed the origins of the term “Information Architecture” , and how the term is defined differently within different branches of IT and Library/Information Science.

Once an IA makes that decision, they also need to decide what the section might be called. While this may fall into a content strategist’s purview, it’s a decision that every IA should weigh in on, whether the IA is also the content strategist, or a designer. Labeling, or what we call pages and links on a site, ensures that our navigation and hierarchy is appropriately titled, which plays a large role in whether users will be able to find that information.

Digital Content is About What People Are Trying to Do

Designers do IA on a daily basis – from conducting research to creating wireframes, from deciding content placement to laying out page navigation. User flows are simple diagrams that follow a user down a path of activity. Occasionally they look like storyboards, other times like flow charts. The important thing is to not outline every single possible behavior, but rather show most likely user experience.

defining information architecture

Mapping out your content URLs, and doing a website crawl can provide you with good information that will inform your new sitemap and information architecture. Leveraging color they’re able to create a visual hierarchy of pages that will inform navigation and URL structure. The information architecture displayed in this sitemap doesn’t directly equate to the website’s navigation, but will inform it with the understanding of page hierarchy. Information architecture came about due to the unprecedented amount of information found on the Internet and in CDs and computer software. There was a need to organize the information for the benefit of end users.

Content inventory and audit

Deconstructivism is discussed further in Chapter 4 of this text, using Zaha Hadid’s designs as an example. Daniel Libeskind (b. 1946) is a prominent Polish-American architect who founded his eponymous studio in 1989. He is known for his commitment to evoking memory and place with his designs and often takes inspiration from music, philosophy, literature, and poetry.

Towering buildings, golden domes, mountains, signs, storefronts, trees, doorknobs, and other objects that serve as spatial reference points. I mean architect as used in the words architect of foreign policy…as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work. Hayley Carter, “Information architecture”, Work Study, Vol. Dan Klyn has been working as an information architect for nearly twenty years in agencies, e-commerce organizations, and non-profits. He also teaches information architecture, at the school of Information at the University of Michigan, and is the co-founder of The Understanding Group .

The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability. An Event Apart advertises itself as the design conference for more than just designers and developers. “IAs, UX pros, project managers, writer/editors, marketers, and, yes, clients attend as well.” And it’s true. Though AEA offers some sessions too heady defining information architecture for anyone not steeped in HTML and CSS, they offer just as many talks that cross fields and job titles. For information architects learning more about design, or designers learning more about IA, An Event Apart is an event worth attending. The IA Summit, held in a different city each year, is a fantastic learning experience for novices and experts alike.

Information architecture

Let’s look at Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial to explore delight in architecture more thoroughly, as well as reflect on some different aspects of function mentioned in the previous section. When considering a building’s firmness, you are evaluating its structural integrity, or asking how does the building stand up? How do they impart strength and stability to the structure? An article from the Khan Academy discussing Jefferson’s design. After watching the video, discuss the aesthetics of Deconstructivism to prompt deeper reflection about how notions of beauty are formed in architecture.

There are, of course, important differences between the two buildings; Jefferson was not directly derivative of the ancient Roman structure. You might have thought of the triangular pediment supported by tall vertical columns. These features reflect Jefferson’s interest in ancient Greek and Roman architecture, such as the Maison Carrée in France. Another influence to Jefferson’s building is the ancient Roman Pantheon, which will be discussed in the next section. In this book, readers get a seven-step process for tackling even the messiest hierarchies, to help break the work down and make it manageable. Published in 2005, Peter Morville’s book about information overload and finding content in the world of Google is as valid now as it was then.

Christina is a partner at Carbon IQ, a San Francisco consultancy specializing in user centered Information Architecture. She also runs Elegant Hack and a newsletter on the subject. UX architects might also visit users in real-world environments to see how they interact with a product. The IA practitioner will join other team members to ask questions related to product design.

Association for Information Science and Technology

Clickable wireframes help product designers evaluate the information structure. Card sorting plays an important role in information architecture design because it is a simple way to understand how users categorize information into groups. We live in a world where people expect to find a solution to their problems with the least amount of effort. When finding information becomes too complicated or too slow, there’s a risk that people will simply abandon it.


From this documentation, IA informs interface designs by defining the structure and nomenclature the site is to follow. Where IA and UX differ in the early stages is in deliverables. Where UX may provide wireframes, and layouts, IA results in spreadsheets of documented content, and the two come together creating flow diagrams to map out content, and the surrounding experience. According to Peter Morville , the purpose of your IA is to help users understand where they are, what they’ve found, what’s around, and what to expect.


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