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Information architecture

Information architecture is the categorization of information into a coherent structure, preferably one that most people can understand quickly, if not inherently. (source: Wikipedia)

User Experience Librarians: User Advocates, User Researchers, Usability Evaluators, or All of the Above? (.pdf)

Libraries and UX, a perfect match for information architects.

“User Experience (UX) is gaining momentum as a critical success factor across all industries and sectors, including libraries. While usability studies of library websites and related digital interfaces are commonplace, UX is becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion in the community and is emerging as a new specialization for library professionals. To better understand this phenomenon, this paper reports the results of a qualitative study involving interviews with 16 librarians who have ‘User Experience’ in their official job titles. The results show that UX Librarians share a user-centered mindset and many common responsibilities, including user research, usability testing, and space/service assessments, but each individual UX Librarian is also somewhat unique in how they approach and describe their work. As a whole, the research sheds light on an emerging library specialization and provides a valuable snapshot of the current state of UX Librarianship.”

Craig M. MacDonald a.k.a. @CraigMMacDonald ~ Proceedings of the 78th ASIS&T Annual Meeting, vol. 51

Complete beginner’s guide to Information Architecture

But how complete can it be?

“Information architecture is a task often shared by designers, developers, and content strategists. But regardless of who takes on the task, IA is a field of its own, with influences, tools, and resources that are worth investigation. In this article we’ll discuss what information architecture really is, and why it’s a valuable aspect of the user experience process.”

UX Booth

The good, the bad, and the ugly: A language of critique for information architecture

I always love some deep thinking on information architecture. It’s not that often I encounter it.

“IA is more than wireframes. But we’re confined by the mindset that thinks IA is a box to check off on a project plan. If you find this a problem, you’ll want a way to change the discourse. A language of critique is going to help you become a better, more influential UX professional. We can all use that.”

Stacy Surla a.k.a. /stacysurla | @stacysurla ~ Fritillaria

Towards a definition of serendipity in information behaviour

Finding something unexpected and very relevant is a moment of wow!

“Serendipitous or accidental discovery of information has often been neglected in information behaviour models, which tend to focus on information seeking, a more goal-directed behaviour. (…) By including serendipity in information behaviour models, the frameworks arrived at should help further research in this area. A working definition of serendipity in information behaviour is a starting point for other researchers to investigate related questions in the area.”

Naresh Kumar Agarwal ~ Information Research Vol. 20.3

Information architecture’s role in UX design

Fortunately, no more discussions on information design versus information architecture. We’ve come from far away.

Jorge Arango discusses the state of IA and the importance of designers’ understanding of context and perspective – “Information architecture has always been an important part of user experience design, though not always acknowledged as such. With the emergence of social, IoT, and mobile, we have watched IA taking on a more dominant role in product development.”

(Mary Treseler a.k.a. @marytreseler ~ O’Reilly Radar)

Design’s role is to bridge context gaps: Andrew Hinton on making context understandable, smart devices, and programming literacy

Each time, IA is falling off the table when technology or design have the loudest mouth. But in the end, IA provides new meaning, truth, and value.

“Information architecture has always been a critical part of creating great products and services, and many would argue that, until now, it hasn’t been given the attention or respect it deserves. The need for thoughtful IA is increasing as we enter the multimodal world of IoT. Whether you call yourself an Information Architect or Designer, you need to care about context.”

(Mary Treseler a.k.a. @marytreseler ~ O’Reilly Radar)

Interaction design meets architectural thinking

Beside design thinking, we now have architectural thinking as well.

“Architecture is the classic, established approach to the design of our built environment. For hundreds of years, architects have focused on the design of our physical surroundings to define the frames for our lives. In doing so, architecture has established itself as the tradition of working with the material and artificial aspects of our physical surroundings to support the social and cultural aspects of our lives. With this as its primary focus, architecture as a discipline and a practice shares several characteristics with interaction design. Architecture is people-centered yet design-oriented; it deals with the intersection of human factors and artificial matters—that is, the material, designed aspects of our everyday lives.”

(Mikael Wiberg ~ ACM Interaction Magazine March/April 2015)

Architecting happiness

Bravo! Such a nice initiative to bring the design challenge to our community. Great starting point for #WIAD15 and #ArchHappy.

“The world is complex. Information is subjective. Customer Experience is key. Globally there is a big community of courageous professionals for whom their daily work is about making sense of any mess. They are information architects, user experience designers, developers, social media experts, visual designers, innovators… sometimes working as specialists but in other roles too: as creative directors, entrepreneurs, managers or consultants. They are to be found in agencies, startups, big corporations or work as freelancers. They all have something in common: they are responsible for Designing, Developing, Building, Communicating webs, mobile apps or digital services and products that act as information spaces in ubiquitous ecologies (on any device, in any location, and in any format). The aim of this project is to stimulate discussion about how we Architect for Happiness.”

(Silvia Calvet a.k.a. @silviacalvet and Nicole Neuefeind a.k.a. @nicneuvision ~ About Architecting Happiness)

What you know about information architecture, might not be true

But as you also know, common knowledge is not as common as you think it is.

“You don’t hear the term information architecture much anymore. There is a lot of talk about understanding the users needs and delivering appropriate content. But, little about how the user finds that content. This is because it is a subject that is thoroughly covered. There are some great books on the subject and so bloggers don’t feel they have much to add. The problem is that when a subject has been so well covered, it moves into the realm of common knowledge. We all think we understand information architecture. Yet, it is a specialist area and the things we think we know may not be correct.”

(Paul Boag ~ Boagworld)

Improving your information architecture with card-sorting: A beginner’s guide

“(…) one of those buzzwords.” OMG!

“Information architecture (IA) is one of those buzzwords you’ve probably heard before. It refers to the organization of the information on your website and how it all fits together. When planning your IA, involve users of your website in the process as soon as you can. In this article, we’ll discuss card sorting, a tried and true technique for doing just that. We’ll go through some practical tips for running a card-sorting session, and also cover some examples.”

(Smashing Magazine)

Improving library user experience with A/B testing: Principles and process

Another item to the acro soup: LUX. Great initiative this peer-reviewed journal.

“This paper demonstrates how user interactions can be measured and evaluated with A/B testing, a user experience research methodology. A/B testing entails a process of controlled experimentation whereby different variations of a product or service are served randomly to users in order to determine the highest performing variation. This paper describes the principles of A/B testing and details a practical web-based application in an academic library. Data collected and analyzed through this A/B testing process allowed the library to initiate user-centered website changes that resulted in increased website engagement and improved user experience. A/B testing is presented as an integral component of a library user experience research program for its ability to provide quantitative user insights into known UX problems.”

(Scott W. H. Young a.k.a. @hei_scott ~ Weave: Journal of Library User Experience 1.1)

The difference between information architecture and navigation

Simple interpretation of IA: How you move or travel from one place to the next one in this space. Navigation needs a map, compass and a goal.

“IA is the information backbone of the site; navigation refers to those elements in the UI that allow users to reach specific information on the site.”

(Jennifer Cardello ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

The practitioners of Web information architecture in small and medium enterprises

In SME’s you really will find the real IA unicorns.

“This paper reports an investigation of the practice of web information architecture in small and medium enterprises . As information delivery via the web becomes a mainstream activity in all organisations, research and practical attention to Web IA remains focused on larger organisations and a new profession of information architect. The practice of web IA in SMEs has not been widely considered. This research collects the narratives of those who practice Web IA in the smaller enterprise and reveals that the dominant voice is that of a communication and marketing practitioner, rather than information professional. The outcomes of practice in this context suffer from a lack of knowledge and expertise.”

(Burford, S. & Given, L. M. (2013) ~ Journal of Information Architecture Vol. 5, No. 1-2)

Exploring the phase-space of information architecture

Finally, some deep thinking based upon reading the relevant sources again regarding the properties of information and how it effects information architecture.

“(…) I introduced the phase-space of information architecture, a mapping of the semantic neighborhoods created when we run through all the permutations of the two flavors of information: perceptual and linguistic. (…) Here we will look in detail at the facets of each flavor of information. Now that we’ve detailed the facets of our stuff of design, let’s situate ourselves in a design problem and visualize how we may engage the phase-space of information architecture to strategically turn the dials of perceptual and linguistic information.”

(Marsha Haverty a.k.a. @mjane_h ~ Praxicum) ~ courtesy of @resmini