“Practicing Information Architecture in the real world”

“Practicing IA in the real world”
(This is summary of what I read from the referred book and my thoughts, recommendations)

For me, the most satisfying definition for Information Architecture is that it is the ‘structural design of shared information environments’ and the most satisfying IA deliverable is the blueprint model. The reason why I liked these is because I see that Information Architect’s role in the real world, is most expanded to the entire organization and he is responsible for the whole web based enterprise information architecture. According to me, web site is just a part of the global web based enterprise information architecture which consists of various web based information systems and sub-systems. The Information architect should start with the business needs, goals and strategies and then map them into organization information needs (we are considering only web based) to satisfy those goals. He should be able to arrive at effective organization wide Information Architecture that satisfies all current information needs,content management needs and that integrates all existing web based systems. The blueprints that he develops should drive the design and development of all organization wide intranet/internet based web sites and applications.

The major difference between good and bad web-sites is based on effective structuring, organization and design of content, context and user experience. The major flaw in a poorly designed web-site is that there is poor organization of content, poor facilitation of user’s information seeking behavior (making him think more of what to do next or where to go to get a particular info) and lack of projection of organization goals and objectives. Well designed web-sites stands good in all these three aspects of efficient Information Architecture backbone.

For example, take the case of www.gene.com. It is a classic example of how well a company web-site can be designed and developed. The mission of the web-site is to enable the user to learn more about Genetech’s Corporate information, its business and its success in various areas of biotechnology R&D. By use of excellent information organization, consistent and user-friendly navigation and self-explanatory web-page features (images, content categories, clickable links, summary home pages for each main section with intuitive information presentation) www.gene.com has been successful in meeting its mission by providing most high quality user experience. Each main section ( eg: ‘About Us’, ‘Research’ and ‘Development’) is carefully organized and sub-categorized into relevant sub-sections that provide immense information about the company.

The site is designed for the whole world of users who might be interested in : – learning more about a top rated biotechnology company or just a successful R&D company (exploratory) – learning specifically about Genetech (known-item) – job seekers in the biotechnology industry (exploratory) – learning more about latest developments in biotechnology, specifically in immunology (exhaustive)

The web-site organization and labeling leads to least time spent in thinking what each item/feature would do. The site navigation via the pull down top menu bar is consistent and user-friendly. The only drawback that I notice is the vertical scroll in all first pages of main sections, due to the huge images. This would make the user feel that there is no content below it, unless he scrolls down.

The site functions as the core medium to advertise itself to the broad audience as identified above. In addition to this, the web-site functions as a marketing medium to market its R&D, technology expertise and products. Another major role played by web-site is to meet company standards to have an effective web presence and attract productive work professionals and investors. Overall, the web-site effectively considers context, content and users towards building a robust Information Architecture.

Rosenfield L., Moevillee P. (2002). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition. O’Reilly Media