This year, several teammates and I had the great opportunity to attend the IA (Information Architecture) Summit, which was held in New Orleans. The event drew both attendees and speakers from around the globe.
A Better Understanding of the “What” and “Who” of IA
A main takeaway from Donna’s presentation was how much work goes into the creation of successful information architecture. As mentioned more than a few times in our IA Summit blog posts
, the process of IA planning can be more involved than actual project implementation.
Also, it was notable that IA isn’t only done by official “Information Architects”. Instead, it can be done by whomever! Team members may include usability specialists, business analysts, writers, graphic designers, web developers, project managers, or any other knowledgeable contributor. Nearly everyone involved in a project should have some perspective or input that will be valuable to the IA.
IA is a Theory
There are few “right” or “wrong” answers when it comes to IA. Each project and audience has its own specific context and needs to be addressed by the IA team, which can be found through insights from user research and other IA exercises. Both quantitative and qualitative insights can be of value, as long as all projects are viewed through the filter of the end user.
People Think in Topics – Not Format
Identifying pertinent topic areas is an important aspect of designing navigation or other IA components. It will be valuable to arrange information based upon the user’s expected needs, allowing for a greater ease of flow through a website or other structure. Likewise, it is important to remember page body is a valuable aspect of navigation and site structure, while breadcrumbs serve as a great navigational tool.
Categories equal Concepts
One final takeaway from the IA Summit is that a category is often the same as a concept or abstract idea. It is “something that lives in our brain”, and based on personal experiences, users will have different ideas about what may be included in a particular category. As such, it is always important to keep user behaviors top-of-mind in order to create an IA that is truly effective.