Category: Features

Improve Your Site with Simple Web Statistics

By Susan Yeshin In an ideal world, information architects would be able to watch over the shoulders of customers using our websites to validate design choices we made and make adjustments as needed. Often, we don't have the luxury of a user trial or the funds to purchase a sophisticated site analysis tool. Fortunately, you likely already have some valuable information regarding your site and its visitors available to you. Most Web servers collect some basic information, or Web statistics, on the pages they host and serve; servers store this information in a log file. If you can access the… Read the rest

What's Data Got to Do with It? Information Architecture and Analytics

By Laura A. Palmer If you were asked to redesign the information architecture for a website, what's the first question you'd ask? You might want to know more about the product being sold or the purpose of the site. You'd ask about the site owner's perspective on problems with the current version. Several years ago, I'd have asked all those questions myself and probably a few more. But now, my first question would be, “How quickly can you get me access to your analytics?” Some clients may be taken aback by your request. It's the modern day equivalent of asking… Read the rest

Developing Abstract, Conceptual Models to Support Strategic Information Architecture

By Andrea Ames, Fellow and Alyson Riley, Member If you read our article ”Helping Us Think: The Role of Abstract, Conceptual Models in Strategic Information Architecture” in this issue of Intercom, you know that we’re pretty passionate about models. We describe why we believe that modeling an information experience in the abstract is the key to an enterprise-level strategy for delivering consistent, scalable, effective information architectures. Here, we continue the discussion by describing how we developed and validated the IBM abstract, information experience models. The IBM information architecture toolbox includes four abstract models: The Use Model: A complete, coherent collection… Read the rest

Embracing Change: Information Architecture Strategies for Anticipating and Adapting to Change

By Nicola Yap It's very rare for a project to end up exactly the way it was planned. There are many internal and external sources of change that significantly impact the design of your documentation: design changes in your products or services, customer feedback, competitor or industry changes, shifts in available team resources, new government regulations or industry standards, trends in documentation source and delivery formats, and so on. If you work in the software industry and follow an agile development model, you're working in an environment that is inherently open to change and requires the flexibility to quickly adapt.… Read the rest

Communicating Information Architecture to Managers and Executives

By Tricia York Garrett Other articles in this special edition of Intercom describe how to measure the business value of your information architecture (IA) initiatives. This article provides some tips for communicating that business value—and your overall IA vision, plans, and progress—to upline managers and executives. Don't just communicate your plans, plan your communications (“Genre”) In his business parable, Death By Meeting, Patrick Lencioni compares good meetings to good screenplays. First, Lencioni asserts, good meetings are anything but dull or pointless because they proceed quickly to the area of conflict, the problem to be resolved, or the course of action… Read the rest


Point: The Importance of Content By Rahel Bailie, Fellow Since the emergence of content strategy as a discipline complimentary to information architecture, I've watched a chicken-and-egg debate start up—and continue—about the relative importance of each practice area. The debate has yielded much speculation but few useful results. Information architects (IAs) remain clear in their perspective: their work is to create the framework—most often for a website or application of some flavor—which can then be populated with content. Content strategists remain secure in their knowledge: without content, the IA framework remains incomplete. The biggest divide is around the importance of content.… Read the rest

Turning Down the Volume

By Deirdre Longo Several times during the past few years, I've mentioned during presentations that my first 10 years in information development seemed to be devoted to evangelizing information development and making space for our content. I, or my team, would make the case for being involved early, for building help into a product, for creating a consolidated information library. In each case, we were trying to get our information in. My second 10 years have instead been focused around making the case to take content out. As a full-time, strategic information architect for a large and ever-expanding portfolio, I'm… Read the rest

Question / Information: Quest / Inform

By Richard Saul Wurman Recently, I took another look at two words that have become important to me—information and question. The word information (which is half of the title of my book, Information Anxiety, 1989) comes up often. Information Anxiety is about the current (then and now) flood of what is normally called information. Often when people see the term “information anxiety,” they assume that it refers to too much information, but my definition of the term refers to the lack of understanding that typically comes with gaining or obtaining information. Information anxiety is the gap between what we assume… Read the rest

Influencing the Bottom Line: Using Information Architecture to Effect Business Success

By Joann T. Hackos | Fellow Innovative information architects are molding their designs to influence product success, from extending content collaboration across the enterprise, integrating end users into the content development process, decreasing time to market, and creating environments in which information influences the viability of the product. In this article, I introduce several case studies in which information architects are pursuing innovations in information development and delivery that contribute to the profitability of their companies. Do Innovations in Information Architecture Contribute to Profitability? Technical communicators are often informed by engineering and marketing colleagues, as well as by senior management,… Read the rest

Helping Us Think: The Role of Abstract, Conceptual Models in Strategic Information Architecture

By Andrea Ames | Fellow, and Alyson Riley | Member Successful strategic information architecture is like alchemy—an almost magical blend of art and science. From a scientific perspective, information architecture involves disciplined rigor in the way that we: Follow repeatable processes to achieve measurable results Test and refine theories until we get them right Define variables and constants to arrive at solutions And much like art, information architecture is about creating meaning through a deep understanding of the human experience—in particular, the science of human cognition. It involves a passionate pursuit of simplicity and elegance in the face of complexity… Read the rest