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Information Technology

This book is a monster. I will be definitely tackling it in sections.

The authors spend the first section of the book focusing on information architecture, what it is, why we do it, and who does it. Many definitions are provided, and the author acknowledges that there are many ways to look at information architecture. The favorite definition that they provide is, “The structural design of an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive access to content” (Rosenfeld 4). A pretty broad definition, but one that effectively says just what the heck information architecture is. One thing that I found a little surprising about the book so far is that the authors seem to go to great lengths to convey that information architecture is not page design or color scheme. It is not the text itself nor usability. They rather seem to treat information architects as if they are librarians. Meaning that like librarians, they catalog information and make it easy to find, but do not necessarily create the materials nor do they pick the color of the book covers or the kind of wood that the shelves they sit on.

I already disagree with that point based on Steve Krug’s work and on what the authors Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville say mere pages later. (Let me add here that I realize that they don’t want to tackle all subjects related to information architecture and stay focused, but still…) The authors say that information focuses on three main elements. Content, context, and the user. Their job is to consider these three factors in setting up the structure for the site with their main goal being to create a hassle-free experience for the user. How are these three elements not related to other factors in Web development such as design and usability? Krug shows over and over in his book how when something as simple as the colors or size of the links are not right the whole navigation can become ineffective. He gives an example of how content (poor placement or an over abundance) can hinder the user. If pleasing the user is the goal and of course usability will matter. My point is that while they go to such lengths to distance themselves from other divisions of Web design, that is really impractical.

Having ranted on that, I am eager to continue the book which seems to be a very focused on the subject of information architecture. Hopefully in reading this, I will come up with a few ideas of my own for my Web projects and a more insightful analysis paper on the Ecology Action Center.

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January 8, 2009 - Posted by | Information Architecture

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