|An information architect sets strategies that simplify how people navigate and use information across the web and other shared domains of information. -
Contributed by Nathaniel Davis
Last Update: 9/11/2011
Have you ever come across a site or online application that seemed like it wasn’t created with your needs in mind? You get to a page and you’re not sure where to go next. Or, you get to another page and become disappointed because the content on the page isn’t what you expected. Finally, you take matters into your own hands and try every possible path to find the information you’re looking for—but with no luck.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad. Let’s say you actually found what you were look for. The page you found lets you upload, create and save information. Now, you want to create special folders and share your information. But, wait! This functionality doesn’t exist. This portion of the site's architecture has failed to meet your context of use.
Three things an information architect can be expected to do:
• Provide efficient pathways to the content users need (Navigate)
• Improve information organization (Organize)
• Add greater flexibility to the information users wish to consume (Relate)
A major factor to the successful use of any domain of information is how efficiently users are guided to the information they need, and how relevant and actionable the information is at the time it is presented. This requires that information within any given domain have a formal "structure" for content classification and informational properties.
To insure this happens, an information architect—or a user experience designer with the requisite skills to produce sound information architecture—should be consulted.
Many do more than help organize, navigate and relate information
In addition to their knowledge of practicing information architecture, many information architects you come across will possess a wide range of skills that can be used to add value to web and non-web projects. Read the following section for a summary of common Web-based skills.