Information Architecture: How to Conceptualize It and Implement It

Information Architecture: How to Conceptualize It and Implement It

Xiaoying Zhou (Renmin University of China, China) and Xiumei Zhang (Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC), China & Renmin University of China, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5158-6.ch005
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This chapter analyzes the definition, origins, and evolution of Information Architecture (IA), discusses IA principles, the need to understand IA, the problems that can be solved by IA, and IA in practice. It also discusses the characteristic patterns of IA to comprehensively understand IA from five aspects, such as core concepts, research objects, disciplinary viewpoint, effects, and the human’s role in IA. In terms of implementing IA, the chapter analyzes two guiding theoretic principles and the common process of IA and summarizes and concludes with tools, methods, and measures of IA.
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Background And Development

Definition and Origins of IA

The American architect Mr. Richard Saul Wurman creatively put forward the words of IA and its corresponding research field in 1975. After comparing collections, organizing and presenting information with problems needing to be solved for construction, he deemed that ordering of the objective knowledge space had something in common with the ordering of physical space during design of the construction. Therefore, Mr. Wurman considered the ordering problem of information as construction design work serving the specific object.

American scholars Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville published the monograph Information Architecture for World Wide Web in 1998. They re-discovered and reused the ideas of Wurman about information architecture and the information architect, further pushing the theory of IA to the network environment for research; they more deeply penetrated the knowledge of the information management discipline in the theory of Wurman, systematically combining and refining components of Website information spaces and cores, methods and the flow of Website information construction to a specific theoretical system and forming specific thinking and methods of Website information construction. The book led to a great sensation after publication, and was rated the best-selling book at Amazon’s online bookstore. Editions 2 and 3 of the book were published soon thereafter. The theoretical methods of Rosenfeld and Morville helped people find potential and a greater application value of IA during Website construction. The two scholars’ popularization and extension on IA provided an opportunity for the propagation and flourishing of theoretical methods of IA on the World Wide Web, and attracted more people to become engaged in Website design, Website editing, network development, software development, information system design, project management, network operation management and maintenance. More people started to systematically solve the problems of IA and this led more people to start calling themselves as “information architects,” an honorable title to obtain.

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