Information architecture

From Academic Kids

Information Architecture (IA) is the art and science of structuring knowledge (technically data), and defining user interactions (also see use case).

In information system design, data modeling is the analysis and design of the information in the system, concentrating on the logical entities and the logical dependencies between these entities. Data modeling is an abstraction activity in that the details of the values of individual data observations are ignored in favor of the structure, relationships, names and formats of the data of interest, although a list of valid values is frequently recorded. It is by the data model that definitions of what the data means is related to the data structures.

The modern practice of information architecture was first popularized by Louis Rosenfeld (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Rosenfeld) and Peter Morville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Morville), co-authors of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (ISBN 1565922824, AKA "the Polar Bear Book").

Information architecture often has an emphasis on usability studies and testing for website compliance to community standards. The body that governs web compliance is the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). The W3C attempts to create standards for general use by web programmers and is headed by Tim Berners-Lee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee). Tim Berners-Lee is widely credited as one of the inventors of the World Wide Web.

An Information Architecture Design Document template might look something like this:

  1. Goals
  2. User Experience (with Appendix A: Competitive Site Analysis)
  3. Site Content
    1. Content Groups by Labels
    2. Functional Requirements (with Appendix B: Content Inventory)
  4. Site Structure
    1. Structure listing or summary
    2. Architectural graphical views (blueprints)
    3. Global and local navigation schemes (with and optional Appendix C: Site Structure Listing)

Information Architecture may well be viewed as an umbrella phrase, given its close resemblance to Information Technology, and all the catch-phrases IT conjures up. However, the term information architecture describes a specialized skill set which relates to the management of information and employment of information related tools. It also has some degree of association with library sciences due to the nature of information relationships and management of information content. Many library schools teach information architecture as a part of their curriculum.

External links

  • The Information Architecture Institute (http://iainstitute.org/) - A very good resource on material to get a clue on this topic is the Library of The Information Architecture Institute (http://iainstitute.org/library/). The Information Architecture Institute is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to advancing and promoting information architecture. Founded in 2002, the Institute has over 600 members in 40 countries.
  • Boxes and Arrows (http://www.boxesandarrows.com/) - An industry publication with over 180 articles on the topic of information architecture.
  • Interaction-Design.org (http://www.interaction-design.org/) - an open-content, peer-reviewed Encyclopedia covering terms from the disciplines of HCI, Usability, Information architecture, and related fields.
  • IA Wiki (http://www.iawiki.net/) - A collaborative knowledge base for the topic of Information Architecture.
  • Information Architecture at Web Design Reference (http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/support/Training/Online/webdesign/architecture.html) - A huge mega-reference (over 3,000 links) of information and articles dedicated web design and development. The site advocates web standards, Information Architecture, usability, accessibility, and many related topics. It features a listserv and RSS feed for site updates.
  • Information Architecture at Digital Web Magazine (http://www.digital-web.com/topics/information_architecture/) - A major reference site (over 270 articles) with articles dedicated web design, web development, and information architecture.
  • W3C Organization (http://www.w3c.org/) - An online resource for web standards. This includes many code validation tools and guides for future web development trends.

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