What is Information Architecture

This continues to be a hot topic in Web Development, and by just broaching the subject, I risk the wrath of people in my field who may disagree with the answer I am going to try and outline in this article. IA, as it is referred to, overlaps with other aspects of project planning, and often blurs the lines between itself and information design, project management, usability analysis and user-experience approaches.

For example, James Kalbach gathers a few definitions in his article "IA, Therefore I Am":

"Definitions range from Elaine Tom's 'a map of the underlying information structures' to Wurman's 'the building of structures that allow others to understand' to Rosenfeld and Morville's 'the combination of organization, labelling, and navigation schemes within an information system' and John Shiple's 'the blueprint of the site upon which all other aspects are built - form, function, metaphor, navigation and interface, interaction, and visual design.'"

The purpose of this article is to supply clients with a basic understanding of what someone with the title 'Information Architect' normally offers in their skill set, and try to clarify what their role is on a development team.

April 8th 2008 12PM
By: danielle

 

IA and Other Roles in the Website Development Process

Information Architecture, or IA, directly affects all aspects of your website. It is an integral part of the development process. Clients benefit from having an information architect interact with members of their team.

Usability

Project Management

Graphic Design

Development & Configuration


IA vs Usability

The term "Usability" often refers to usability testing (heuristic evaluations, usage analysis, scenario-based testing) or usability research (interviews, questionnaires, demographic research, market segmentation). It is measured by the efficiency with which a user can perform required tasks with an information product (i.e. your website).

Though both IA and Usability are concerned with creating successful interfaces, they are two different disciplines.

April 8th 2008 6PM
By: danielle

 

Top Ten Risks to Your Website Project

These are not necessarily in order of severity as certain risks can be more damaging to certain projects. It isn't an exhausted list either (just our personal favourites). For each one, I've provided an explanation (and in some cases, an anecdotal admonition).

May 31st 2007 9PM
By: danielle
File Under:

 

Clients: Before You Utter the Words "Yes, I'm available"...

Clients are fibbers.

Hmm. Sorry. Scratch that.

Clients do not understand what they are agreeing to and inadvertently fib to development teams.

Yes. That's better.

To avoid more miscommunication, I will provide further clarification of terms in brackets. After all, this whole article is about the failure of communicating expectations between two parties.

At the start of any project, it is established who on the client's team will be the main contact (read: the one person who is responsible for getting information, documents, files and answers to the development team as needed to meet projected timelines).

This person's availability is vital (read: muy importante) to achieving deliverables by the final release date (read: launching your website on time).

Often, it's the person who will take over as webmaster who gets appointed as the main client contact. This is fine, as long as the webmaster has the authority to make decisions.

The Availability Conversation

In these scripts, DT=Development Team, and CC=Client Contact

Conversation 1: an example of how the conversation usually goes

May 31st 2007 9PM
By: danielle
File Under:

 

Three Scrolls and You're Out: Too Much Content on One Page

A common annoyance found on websites is a published article that goes on forever. I don't mean a rambling account of facts but rather a bottomless pit of content (useful or otherwise), gathered on a single page, seemingly without end.

Having to scroll 10 or 11 times down a page to sort through information does not seem to deter people who are involved in the field of web development. I think years of staring at endless streams of code makes them feel at home in these situations. The average audience, however, finds such an abundance of information - presented in a chunk on one screen - daunting. The reader, forced to scroll through paragraph after paragraph until it all blurs together, is no longer absorbing the information at all. They are hypnotically watching the text go by.

May 31st 2007 9PM
By: danielle