What is Information Architecture?
When an individual enters a web resource they expect to find the information they are looking for without having to spend hours clicking around the website. Wurman coined the phrase "information architect", in 1976, based on the enormous amount of information generated by society, which he thought “ the explosion of data needed an architecture, needed a series of systems, needed systemic design, a series of performance criteria to measure it" (Knemeyer). Information Architecture Institute defines information architecture “as the art and science of organizing and .labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability” (The Information Architecture Institute). Dorian Taylor believes that “since information architecture uses information as a raw material, it is virtually devoid of any content of its own. As such it is best demonstrated through copious examples and will never have one definition” (Taylor). The job description of an Information Architect is so diverse that one sole definition cannot be used to describe this field or characterize all of their duties that they are responsible for.
What does an Information Architect do?
During the last decade, the job description of this career field has changed and developed into a wide range of descriptions. Mr. Taylor describes his work as “creating situational awareness and conceptual integrity”. Through this process “artifacts emerge as byproducts (and ultimately receipts) of that process.” He believes “a persona, content inventory or wireframe is meaningless if everybody involved doesn't both understand and value it. The process of acquiring such an artifact is arguably more important than the artifact itself” (Taylor). Information Architects like Mr. Taylor develop wireframes that help a company organize their information in a database that helps their employees and customer attain information quickly and efficiently.
Who hires IAs?
Information Architecture is currently a web-centric discipline. Almost, all work that Information Architects do is on websites. Most individuals in this career field are hired by companies with a large enough web presence to support a full-time information architect or they work for freelance companies that hire out IA’s to companies that need help with organizing their business website, e-mail database or help with setting up the infrastructure of their company.
What kind of skills or education do you need?
Since, Information Architect degrees are just starting to appear, most current Information Architects do not possess a college degree in Information Architecture, but hold a degree in a different discipline. Other common backgrounds include graphic design, human-computer interaction, and library and information science. These majors are all related and are beneficial when looking at the skills and jobs that an information architect completes. Mr. Taylor doesn’t have any educational background and stated that he learned most of his skills on the job. Since, “Information architecture doesn’t have a lot of content peculiar to it. The theory lies in the intersections of so many disciplines that the word "interdisciplinary" seems hopelessly inadequate. In practice, it is extremely difficult to avoid becoming something of a domain expert as a byproduct of doing the job” (Taylor).
Knemeyer, Dirk. Information Design. January 2004. 24 April 2012 <http://www.informationdesign.org/special/wurman_interview.htm>.
Taylor, Dorian. Information Architect Ryan Rennaker. 2012.
The Information Architecture Institute. 2012. 24 April 2012 <http://iainstitute.org/en/>.