Posted by cadsmith on November 16, 2007
Reviewed Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Morville and Rosenfeld, 3rd edition, 2006, 456pp. Information architecture (IA) defines systems for organization, labeling, navigation, search, thesauri, vocabularies and metadata. Early techniques were derived from library science, and now cover the web and any information environments that value usability and findability, IA has a symbiotic relationship with business strategy. The book covers principles, methods, practices and organizational effects. Case studies are included for large efforts such as MSWeb and evolt.org, and many links are given for examples of other types such as communities, directories, literature, education and conferences. There are a variety of interesting topics, e.g. hierarchies can be single, polyhierarchies such as biological species, or multi-hierarchies such as faceted classifications; usability looks at affinity model of how data notes or cards are placed in categories. usability engineering includes testing; metadata-driven model allows user to describe document so software and vocabulary systems place the contents; Interwoven.com metatagger analyzes new content and automatically links from other pages; and, in order to describe what they know, subject matter experts (SMEs) can use klogs (knowledge blogs). Third edition has added navigation systems that use tag clouds, tailor pages to user, allow user mods, observe actions of others, offer favorites, use collaborative filtering, or make recommendations. Authors’ sites: semanticstudios, louisrosenfeld, findability, videos on Findability.
This also describes how architectural testing occurs as part of TACT, a way to translate research to strategy after thinking, articulating and communicating. Tests are used to validate the chosen strategy. A range of prototypes can be exercised from wireframe through full-scale web models or actual sites. This can involve focus groups, adding new documents, closed card sorting, and navigation performance analysis. For example, a general question might be how to find a particular piece of information which changes value over time. Testing and refinement often form an iterative process. There is also overlap between this and interface design.