Information Architecture (IA) is about the art and science of organising content, ordering of information, and the categorizing and labeling of this data, content and information. Web site design and build is critical to the success of a site but it’s not IA itself. IA is centred around the findability and usability of information.
We constantly expand upon traditional methods used in libraries but the www reaches further and wider and this evolves with improved methods and techniques. Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville 2007 have much to say on the issue of IA one of their obvious suggestions being that web site producers are experienced web consumers.
We all know what we like and don’t like about particular websites. Information architecture plays a critical role in this.
Some key considerations for quality IA:
Organisation systems – Alphabetical, Chronological, Geographical.
Ambiguous – topical, task or audience specific. These can be good for browsing, personally I often defer to search in these instances.
Labelling, thesauri and synonyms – important to index the content, sometimes narrow specific terms at other times broad general terms.
Navigation – intuitive and scalable. Links provided throughout the site to hold and capture the user’s imagination.
Search – reaching from simple search to more advanced, tailoring user’s requirements.
Visual appearance – good design and aesthetics, clarity is key.
Writing Styles – tone and style for the audience, these can differ substantially.
Personalisation and Customisation can both offer some great features to the user - need to bespoke for the audience.
The DITA module provides a taster and background to a broad range of topics. The impact on the digital structure of content has undoubtedly had an impact on the way I work day to day, even the simple things such as accurate filing and folder systems, down to better understanding of the implications of changing business requirements and matching this to IT support and potential development of our online services.