The Information Architect

“Architecture begins with an idea.”   Number 14

” An architect knows something about everything. An engineer knows everything about one thing.”   Number 21

Matthew Frederick, 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School.

As an architect will be responsible for the organization of the space in a physical building the information architect is responsible for the organization of the content in a website or application.

Information architecture is different from graphic design and programming because it focuses on the structure of  the content.  When you  create a website you are creating information architecture.  Paying due attention to the information architecture of your project will yield dividends down the road.

“The key job of an information architect is to organize the information on a website or interactive application so that users can easily navigate to where they need to go and as a result achieve their goals.”

The key deliverable of an information architect will be a site map (blueprint) of an application.

The work will not end there.  In fact, the information architect will involved with a project through the entire process.

The information architects is involved in:

1. User research.

2. Defining content & functionality.

3. Developing organizational schemes.

4. Design of the interface.

The information architect’s key skills are an understanding how we categorize things and an understanding of the user.

It is important to realize that the information architect designs websites not web pages. They need to understand the relationships between multiple content areas and create an easy to navigate flow between them.

I think the role of information architect is going to continue to evolve.  As a kid,  I developed a love of architecture from friends of  my parents who were architects. They had a modernist home in Bethesda, Maryland that they buildt themselves. When we would go over to visit them for holidays, I could immediately feel the warmth and comfort of the environment that they created.

The goal of the information architect’s work is to align the structure of  digital content with it’s purpose and functionality. This alignment will provide the user an experience that will easily allow them to achieve their goal and create the experience that you were intending.

RESOURCES

Bibliography

Excerpts from:

Information Architecture for Designers, Structuring Websites for Business Success, Peter Van Dijck, Rotovision, ISBN 2-88046-731-4, 2003

Quotes from:

101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick, The MIT Press, ISBN 978-0-262-06266-4, 2007.

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