Week Eight – Information Architecture

Information architecture has only evolved over the past few years, therefore currently it has a wide variety of disciplines but very shallow understanding of agreed scope and aim. Generally it is the way in which information is structured on a website. Information architecture can be viewed as both science and art, as well as providing order and method to information to ensure people’s needs are met. It seems to be the point at which people who need information, context of use, and actual content and applications cross.

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There are two different methods that information architects usually use. The first is the bottom-up method, which begins with the actual content and applications. In contrast top-down method starts with content of use and the people who need information. There are various other methods, because information architects comes from many different backgrounds. However these methods are the ones that are most commonly used. For example information architects may come from the background of cognitive psychology, library science and journalism. This is supported by Robertson, Hewlett, Harvey and Edwards (2003) that suggested information architects require a broad range of skills including research, focused designing, evaluation, coordinating internal and external stakeholders, and management.

When designing a website the information architects, may use a whole range of site structures. These structures may include linear, hierarchical, organic or hub and spoke. Each of these has its own pros and cons of using the structure, therefore the information architect must select one suitable for the task. For example linear only allows the user to go one way through the site. Consequently this would not be suitable for a website with the aim of providing many different recipes. The user would have to make a fresh search every time and it would become uncomfortable for the user. However it would be suitable when making an online payment, so ensure the user follows the procedure from the basket to entering their bank details.  It is also important to note, as Fu-Tien Chiou suggests, that information architecture is most effective when the information system created has an attractive interface.  This usually applies to most websites, especially commercial sites.

Upon reflection this week I feel I did well to support my points. However I do feel I need to read up on information architecture even more, to ensure I have a solid foundation of knowledge for this particular subject. I also need to go and find out how to locate the resource that is currently unavailable to me, as this may have helped deepen my knowledge of understanding, with regards to information architecture. Moreover doing more research will also allow me to challenge certain views and add my research into the reading material given to me.

Cites for this week:

Belam, M. 2010. What is ‘Information Architecture’?. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/help/insideguardian/2010/feb/02/what-is-information-architecture [Accessed: 30 Nov 2013].

Burford, S. 2011. Complexity and the practice of web information architecture. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62 (10), pp. 2024-2037. Available from: doi: 10.1002/asi.21582 [Accessed: 30 Nov 2013].

Green, G. 2013. Information Architecture. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 45 (6), pp. 595-598. Available from: doi: 10.1177/154193120104500604 [Accessed: 30 Nov 2013].

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