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What Is IA? (or Information Architecture Explained)

There is an Old School Notion of the Information Architect as Database Architect or Systems Analyst (and while it's true that people in those roles also practice their own brand of back-end Architecture), that is NOT the IA we're talking about here!

In the past few years IA, as it pertains to front-end site and web-application architecture, has grown in mindshare and in population of practitioners to be the more well known job that applies to that appellation. Defining IA is something that we IAs are regularly asked to do; and perhaps there is no one correct answer to the inquiry, but when in doubt it is often advisable to "look it up."

With reference to a Software & Web Design Practice, I believe it is better to ask the experts rather than the dictionary. Perhaps the most well-know Author and Practitioner in the field of Information Architecture is Lou Rosenfeld, co-author (with Peter Morville) of "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web" - Published by O'Reilly

Lou's Definition (from his IA for the www 'Polar Bear' Book published by O'Reilly)

"Information architecture involves the design of organization, labeling, navigation, and searching systems to help people find and manage information more successfully. Organization systems are the ways content can be grouped.

Labeling systems are essentially what you call those content groups. Navigation systems, like navigation bars and site maps, help you move around and browse through the content. Searching systems help you formulate queries that can be matched with relevant documents."

On a recent 'Google' search for UI & Information Architecture I read through the first 800+ hits and I found that Lou and Peter's Book was referenced in at least 25% of the hits, and the rest were Information Architects & Independent Information Architecture consultants such as myself.

It is also important to note that you don't have to be an Information Architect to Study and Strive towards good IA.

Learn More About IA

Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture a new IA organization of which we are a member

Boxes and Arrows a really hip collaborative site with instructive information

elegant hack our favorite IA Author, Christina Wodtke, at her personal & professional website

The Argus Center for Information Architecture run by the other half of "the guys who made it happen" Peter Morville of Polar Bear Book fame

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