Friday, April 30, 2010

How do you research and develop Information Architecture for a Website?

Information Architects do research by first doing a needs assessment or competitive analysis, using methods-of-design research and procedures.

These documents should include: specific research and a design plan, a competitive analysis, (in step 4 of The IA Model wire frame mockups, flow chart, schematics are done—but it is not too early to start thinking about other items for research), and supporting documentation.

Information Architects consult closely with clients or corporations to determine what their needs will be prior to designing and implementing a Website. Who has to use all of these online products? The answer to that question is clear: human beings use Websites.

Information Architects meet with clients or stakeholders to interview subject matter experts—to get at what the real need is for a client’s business requirements and for end users. This means developing a viable design plan and solution prior to implementation of digital design products.

Understanding requirements for design plans are helpful to Instructional Designers that desire to produce high-quality Websites. In the long run, end users do benefit from user-centered design.

If the Website (design or multimedia product) is structured and navigational systems developed, end users can more effectively use a Website and then concentrate on learning. Information Architects use a variety of computer software programs to produce required documentation.

Information Architects use Visio to do flow charts as well as Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) to draw wire frame mockups (Visio is a software program with extended capabilities more specific to drafting up extensive architectural drawings and blueprints; wire frame mockups are covered in step 4 of The IA Model).

Information Architects might develop a few working prototypes using Photoshop, ImageReady, and Dreamweaver. Then experienced computer programmers do HTML code refinements. The Information Architect is primarily concerned with the conceptual design part-of-the-project, incorporating user-centered design into every design product.

Adobe Creative Suite (, Visio, and Inspiration are examples of computer software programs used by Information Architects to develop and produce Information Architecture documentation and Information Architecture design plan reports. It is an individual’s choice and decision to use computer software programs that best serve their particular professional goals.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Design Effective Navigational Systems

The design of Navigational Systems that work effectively in Websites support the end user better because the end user relies on online documentation rather than printed materials or manuals. According to William Horton:

The strongest benefit of online documentation, however, is successful communication. Although difficult to measure accurately, this benefit often exceeds savings in production costs:

One online documentation project at Chevron projected savings of less than $1,000 in printing and updating costs but over $44,000 in time required for training, looking up information, and correcting errors…. [An]…online consultation system at IBM’s Endicot Laboratory helped users answer 35 percent [35%] more of users’ questions.

The U.S. military’s Personal Electronic Aid for Maintenance (PEAM) reduced troubleshooting errors by two-thirds for the Army and by five-sixths for the Navy.

It reduced the time it took tank mechanics to learn to use paper manuals from several days to minutes [because they were able to quickly retrieve the information online]. It elevated the performance levels of inexperienced technicians to near that of experienced technicians (8:6-7).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Design Navigational Systems for Quick Access

Websites on the World Wide Web provide instant access of information to the end user (provided that the end user has instant Internet access). Since the point of having documentation online is for “immediate informational gratification,” the end user must be able to retrieve the information from Websites.

This is accomplished, if the design of the Navigational Systems are done correctly; that means that they help the end user to navigate effectively through Websites in cyberspace.

In Designing and Writing Online Documentation, William Horton asserts that: “Good online documentation systems [coupled with the design of effective Navigational Systems and Information Architecture] overcome one of the most common objections to paper books, namely, that it takes too long to find information. It is a poor online…system that does not answer questions at least twice as fast as the paper documentation” (8:6).

What is Information Architecture (IA)?

The Information Architecture Institute,, gives this definition for Information Architecture (IA) as:

The structural design of shared information environments.

The art of science of organizing and labeling Websites, Intranets, online communities and software—to support usability, user-centered design and findability.

An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and Information Architecture to the digital landscape.

The term Information Architecture describes a specialized skill set, which relates to the interpretation of information and expression or distinctions between signs and systems of signs.

It has some degree of origin in the library sciences and information design. Many Universities teach Information Architecture in the Library Science and Graphic Design Departments.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What is a User Experience Designer (UXD)?

Information Architecture and User Experience Design are two given components—with regard to Websites or other digital design products—that go hand-in-hand. While Information Architecture provides structure and organization—so many other components: User Experience Design provides experiences and universal accessibility for end users designed specifically for targeted audiences. User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design that pertains to the creation of Information Architecture, including interaction models that impact user experience of a device or system. As user experience is a subjective feeling, it cannot actually be “designed.” Instead, you can design for a user experience, trying to enable certain kind of experiences. The scope of the field is directed at affecting “all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What is an Information Architect (IA)?

The Information Architect is responsible for the research and design, organization of the Websites, structuring of information on Websites, usability testing, doing Project Management; doing Information Architecture requires other components combined together for successful completion of IA projects.

In the long run, corporations that do Information Architecture for Websites may increase their profit margins. Prior to implementation, designing Websites for end users that work right.

Usability testing is also another component to Information Architecture—to make sure user-centered design is accomplished prior to implementation. Effective and well-designed Navigational Systems enable end users to wayfind successfully on Websites.