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A Brief History of Information Architecture

The term “information architect” was popularized by Richard Saul Wurman in the1970's. His primary interest, at the time, addressed the presentation of complex ideas and informational relationships as two- and three-dimensional representations. Wurman was an accomplished architect of buildings and visual designer. Today’s approaches to informational graphics—such as maps and medical diagrams, or any instructional drawing—owe credit to Wurman’s explorations to simplify the communication of complex ideas -- “making the complex clear.”

In 1998, with the publication of “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web”, Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld were responsible for today’s more popular adaptation of the information architecture concept. They used a library science perspective to successfully apply methods that confronted how large amounts of information could be organized and presented for “findability” in the context of human-to-computer interactions (HCI).

While others were taking similar approaches, Morville and Rosenfeld emerged as thought-leaders in the infancy of this new field. It's important to note that information architecture for Web environments and Wurman's practice of information architeture are not the same and should be viewed as different practices.

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