Literature Review

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					                                                       Literature review – example 1, page 1


Literature Review

Introduction
In recent years there has been much interest in the field of information archit ecture (IA). This
in turn has resulted in a wealth of literat ure being published around the topic, such as the IAs‟
bible in the form of the „pol ar bear book‟ „Information Architecture for the World Wide Web‟ by
Rosenfeld and Morville.

Mailing lists, websites and forums have been created in which all aspects of this fresh new
niche are discussed. People are interested, partly because it is a new a rea but also because
the whole field of IA is in itself so interesting; as it holds so many wide ranging disciplines,
perspectives and logic at its core. IA is uniting professionals in disciplines that previously had
little to do with one anot her (which is a very exciting development as much can be learnt from
unusual relationships), it is creating more opportunities for employment in the online
environment (especially for Librarians), and it is changing the fac e and structure of all
information that we seek out on the web.

Throughout the literature certain questions reoccur, which one would anticipate when a new
field emerges. People are interested, and want to understand and define IA, so the following
questions which are rec urrent throughout the literatu re are not surprising:

-How did IA start?
-What is IA?
-Why are they called „Information Architects‟?
-What do IAs actually do?
-Can any body be an IA? (Or is it a field res erved solely for Librarians?)

These questions will be expanded upon throughout the course of the literature review, and
seek to bring clarity to those who want to find the answers to the above, or to see if there truly
are any answers !

Information Archi tecture: Background

Richard Saul Wurman
The term „Information Architecture‟ was coined by Richard Saul Wurman in 1975, although it
is not until the last five or so years that people have been calling themselves „Information
Architects‟. Wurman was trained as an architect, and then became a skilled graphic designer.

„In the 1960s, early in his career as an architect he became interested in matters concerning
the ways in whic h buildings, transport, utilities and people worked and interacted with each
                                i
other in urban environments.‟

This led him to think about ways in which information abo ut these urban environments could
be gat hered, organised and presented to architects, engineers and town planners. Wurman‟s
interests and concerns mirrored those of a Librarians‟ but in a different context. He saw
problems of gathering, organising and presenting information similar to the problems an
architect faces in designing a building that will serve the needs of its occupants.

He published a book „Information Architects‟ in 1996 in response to the „Tsunami‟ of data as
he called it, that was reaching us in unorganised, uncontrollable amounts.

Peter Rosenfeld and Louis Morville
Immediately after Morville graduated from the University of Michigan‟s School of Information
and Library Studies (LIS ), he joined a start-up internet training firm called „Argue Associates‟,
which was owned by Louis Rosenfeld. They taught people to use early internet tools and
eventually went on to design websites. They did not have an exact job title as such:

„We found ourselves using the architecture metaphor with clients to highlight the importance
                                                 ii
of structure and organisation in website design‟
                                                        Literature review – example 1, page 2


However, it was not until 1996 with Wurman‟s book „Information Architects‟ did the label stick.
Morville states that when he had read the book, he felt that Wurman was not talking a bout
information architecture at all, but he was discussing information design.

„After reading this book, I remember thinking this is not information architecture, this is
                     iii
information design‟.

It is from this point on that there was a clear distinction between thos e that followed Wurman‟s
definition from the design field camp, whilst Rosenfeld and Morville argued for the value of
LIS skills in the design of websites and int ranets.

Rosenfeld and Morville published the first edition of their book „Information A rchitecture for the
World Wide Web in 1998, so finally the parameters of information archit ecture had been
coherently defined, even though it takes more than a few words to explain the job title.

However, there is still much ongoing discussion regarding the role of IAs and who is best
suited to the job, as it is so multidisciplinary. As a result there are numerous web blogs,
websites and mailing lists which have been set up to discuss these issues. Even though some
ambiguity remains surrounding IA, the interest it provokes is one of the indicators that it is not
just a flash in the pan.

Information Archi tecture in a nutshell
Information architecture has gradually crept into prominence over the last decade as one of
the new buzz words in web design. However, as Martin White observes:

„E ven IA practitioners would have difficulty in describing just what they mean by “information
architecture”. Like “taxonomy” and “metadata” it creeps into conversations and present ations
                                                           iv
with the user hoping they do not get asked to define it.‟

„Defining IA‟ not surprisingly a recurrent theme in all IA forums, and:

„… Frequently leads to renaming efforts as well from Information Therapist to Experience
           v
Designer.‟

Ironically it is especially hard to give the concept of IA (Information architecture) a single label
or definition, as it spans a wide range of disciplines and involves many different tasks and
skills. What is more not every IA carries out all of those defined tasks and has those skills,
they all do slightly different things, working on slightly different projects, geared towards
different types of user, for slightly different organis ations and departments, within different
teams. On top of this they have a range of different job titles such as: Thesaurus des igner,
Taxonomist, Metadata specialist, Cont ent editor, to name just a few.

Rosenfeld expresses the basic makeup of IA as the interlinking of three major components:
users, content and context. These intertwining areas which all go together to form part s of IA
are demonstrated in Rosenfeld‟s venn diagram below.

Fig.1
                                                       Literature review – example 1, page 3




                                          Context




                                               IA


               Content                                              Users




       users: (who they are, what their information-seeking behaviours and needs
        are)
       content: (volume, formats, metadata, structure, organization)
       context: (business model, business value, politics, culture, resources and
        resource constraints)

Rosenfeld in captures the varied tasks involved in the work of an IA, by talking about the
„Little Information Architect‟ and the „Big Information Architect‟. The „Little Information
Architect‟ may focus solely on bottom -up tasks such as the definition of met adat a fields and
controlled vocabularies, and the „Big Information Architect‟ , would be the leader and ment or
with an overall „vision‟ to bring the whole team forward. Some projects require one or the
other or both. Rosenfeld believes that the best work is produced when the „Little Information
Architect‟ works together with the „Big Information Architect‟ and they all collaborat e with the
interaction designers and all types of other professionals. Ros enfeld states:

„While this diversity and fuzziness drives some people crazy, I think it's a good thing. In the
rich, dynamic environment of web design, it would be foolish to draw thick black lines between
                                                     vi
and around professional roles and responsibilities.‟
                                                      Literature review – example 1, page 4


Below is a diagram created by Louis Rosenfeld and Jess McMullin, where they suggest that
all variations are just part of the wider profession.

Fig. 2




The fact that one solid definition cannot be found, hints also at the problems inherent in
language and representation, which are als o key challenges in designing good websites.
Rosenfeld and Morville state that:

„ The reason why we can‟t serve up a single, all powerful, all-purpose definition is a clue to
                                                          v ii
understanding why it‟s so hard to design good web sites.‟

Richard Saul Wurman, who first brought the phrase „information arc hitecture‟ to wide scale
attention, has defined the role of the information architect into the following three points in
1975:

„(1) The individual who organises the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear.

(2) A person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their
personal paths to knowledge.
                    st
(3)The emerging 21 century professional occupation addressing the needs of the age
focused upon clarity, human understanding and the sciences of the organisation of
              v iii
information.‟

 This definition even though it is broad still holds true for today. Wurman‟s explanation of IA is
slightly mystic with his use of phrases such as „find their personal paths to knowledge‟ and
sounds less science based, which is fitting as he was an architect then graphi c designer by
training. A more current, to the point definition of IA given by Rosenfeld and Morville
demystifies the individuals‟ quest for information. The organis ation of information merely
„facilitates task completion‟. The information process by now has become one we are all
familiar with:

„1. The combination of organization, labelling, and navigation schemes within a information
system.
                                                         Literature review – example 1, page 5



2. The structural design of an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive
access to content.

3. The art and science of structuring and classifying web sites and int ranets to help people
find and manage information.

4. An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design
                                            ix
and architecture to the digital landscape.‟

Broadly speaking, IA deals with the structuring, organising, labelling, finding and management
of information in all its forms. However, it is not just about organising information, it also
expands into areas such as Usability, HCI (Human computer int eraction), psychology, content
creation, management, design and more. Peter Van Dijck in his book „Information
Architecture for Designers‟ states:

„It [IA] is different from visual design or programming in that it focuses on the structure of a
                                        x
website, not its functionality or look‟

This is true in part, as the current notion of IA among many is more focused on the structure
of a website (although the basic principles could be applied to any real world information
scenario too), yet IAs cannot focus on structure alone wit hout taking functionality or look into
the equation, so therefore collaborative working amongst the web team is key.

The diffic ulty in defining IA arises partly because the field is still fairly new and not fully
established to its full potential, but also becaus e the work itself draws from many subject
areas. It would be unlikely to find an Information architect that was a specialist in the field of
web design, met adat a and usability, and the profession has mirrored this by becoming
narrower but much deeper, allowing for specialism within the field of general IA.

Why ‘Information Architecture’?
There have been divers e perspectives on the term „Information architecture‟ from the outset
with Wurman and his design bias, versus Rosenfeld and Morville with their LIS bias. These
varying perspectives also remain prevalent among IA communities internationally, and
                                                                                              xi
discussion of such issues can be readily found in IA forums and mailing lists such as Sigia -L ,
                  xii                 xiii
Boxes and Arrows and Elegant Hack .

At the ASIS Summit 2000, some participants felt that it was the wrong label, and that we are:

„Simply putting two old terms toget her (e.g. „horseless carriage) in a vain attempt to describe
                            xiv
something completely new‟

Others argued that labels don‟t matter, (although IAs generally would dis agree with that!), and
that we should just get on with our work. Seth Gordon who attended the ASIS Summit
suggested that a „serendipity-enabling bookstore‟ with jumbles piles of books on the floor may
be a better model for the information architecture of websites than the structure and
organisation of the traditional library. Whereas Peter Merholtz took it a step further
encouraging people to:

„… A void the tyranny of the megalithic top -down hierarchy that‟s been thrust on us by the evil,
                                       xv
power-mongering library community‟.

Part of the tension can be understood, as new job area is emerging whic h involves many
other disciplines, so naturally they all think that their discipline is best tailored to the role.
Morville says in his article on „Defining Information Architecture‟ that:

„When we create unusual relationships between people or products or ideas, we create a
                               xv i
tension that invites learning‟
                                                        Literature review – example 1, page 6


Unus ual relationships between Librarians, HCI specialists, Usability Consultants, Web
Designers and many others from different backgrounds involved in IA work may initially create
friction and misunderstanding, but as they work toget her one would hope as Morville says,
that much knowledge can be gained from one another.

This conference did take place in 2000, which was prior to Rosenfeld and Morville‟s
„Information Architecture for the World Wide Web‟, which clearly defines IA and reasons from
an LIS perspective why Librarians are so valid in this area. This publication was no d oubt
instrumental in breaking down some of those tensions and creating more understanding
between disciplines.

During this particular conference Morville goes on to say that IA is about strange connections
between areas not normally associated with each other, from this it is clear that he believes
that diversity in IA is one of its defining features.

As IA is establishing itself as a key fundamental player in the design of websites, many further
books concerning the subject have been published, and as ma ny more forums and mailing
lists are set up, tensions have undoubtedly decreased surrounding the labelling of the
profession.

What do Information Architects actually do?
There are many various roles in website design and architecture that and IA could pot entially
play a part in, and it would be rare to find an individual highly skilled in all of the areas the IA
covers. The profession is rapidly becoming narrower and deeper, creating many highly
specialised roles covering all the varied areas of IA. However, according Peter Van Dijck the
main task of an IA is;

„…To organise the information on a website so that users can find things and achieve their
goals. Users will be happier, buy more items, or spend more time on a website, and this
                                  xv ii
makes businesses more money.‟

This means that:

„Optimising a sites‟ search engine to help users find what they are looking for is IA, but
optimising a search engine for effective load balancing is not IA. Developing a system of
labels to populat e the options in a navigation bar is IA, but det ermining whet her the navigation
                                 xv iii
bar is blue or green is not IA.‟

Although a blue or green navigation bar could also cross over into an IAs field in relation to
accessibility, it may not be the best colour to choose if a colour blind p erson were to enter
their site. As the areas of design, accessibility, usability and HCI do continually crossover, it is
extremely likely that an IA has to face and work through differences of opinion regarding what
it best in terms of site design and structure for the users, whilst also adhering to their own
employers needs at the same time.

Overall one could say that IAs are mainly concerned with how information on websites is
organised, navigated, labelled and searched, and these aims produce a number of key tasks
that are common to most IAs at some point in their career. Typically IAs are involved in:

     User Re search:
This determines what people actually want to achieve from the website, and helps the IAs
decide how best to structure the site to facilitate their needs. In reality it seems that not all
projects have the resources available to carry out user based research extensively:

„We conduct research whenever possible, to whatever degree our clients‟ budgets and
                       xix
timelines will allow.‟
Rosenfeld and Morville underline the importance of user testing in „Information Architecture:
for the World Wide Web‟:
                                                      Literature review – example 1, page 7


„First, observe the golden rule of discount usability engineering: any testing is better than no
          xx
testing‟.

Rosenfeld and Morville go on to state that such testing and research is further wort hwhile as it
is difficult for colleagues and the boss to contradict and argue with their customers and real
user behaviour as oppos ed to an IA‟s plea for adjustment by his/herself.

The preliminary res earc h is usually carried out in the form of an Information Audit. This can
further be broken down into a series of areas for analysis:

Information needs analysis: This is carried out to find out what users really need from a
system, as opposed to want or demand, an d what they actually use. According to Rosenfeld
and Morville:

„User testing goes by many names including usability engineering and information needs
          xxi
analysis‟

Although Batley has outlined Information needs analysis objectives to be the following:

„ … [To] Find out what information the users of the system need access to. This involves
determining the problems they face, and what information they need to resolve those
           xxii
problems‟.

This stage could also involve examining the current communication flows in the organisation,
the current system in use, what users require from it and if the users would be able to cope
with a new system/training issues.

Task analysis: This stage in the Audit examines search behaviour and strategies employed by
users when seeking information. Kulthau‟s three realms lend themselves to this area, which
consider the information search process together with behavioural as pects: the affective
realm, the cognitive realm, the physical realm. It takes into consideration how the user fe els
about the system (affective realm), how the user tackles a problem strategically (cognitive
realm), and how many different actions the user has to perform before finding the required
information i.e. mouse clicks (physical realm).

There are endless ways to structure this research. Rosenfeld and Morville explain:

„In basic user testing, you ask a user to sit in front of a computer, open a web brows er, and try
to find information or complete a task using the site you‟re studying. Allowing roughly three
minutes per task, ask the user to talk out loud while he‟s navigating. Take good notes, making
sure to capture what he says and where he goes. You may want to count clicks and bring a
                                  xxiii
stopwatch to time each session‟.

Cleary the key skill in this part of the Audit involves close and accurate observation of the
user at all time during their monitored search time.

Resource analysis: This would also take the form of observing users in front of the computer,
as in the Task Analysis stage. At this point the IA must find out what individual knowledge and
practical skills users employ to complete tasks, as a user-centred system would allow for
different levels of knowledge, skills resources plus individual preferences in the systems
users. Rosenfeld and Morville underline that:

„It‟s particularly important to mix people who are familiar and unfamiliar with the web site;
                                                                      xxiv
experts and novices typically demonstrate very different behaviour.‟

     User Modelling
Once the information needs analysis is completed it should be possible to compile a set of
user models or „personas‟, categorising users into groups based on their search behaviour.
                                                        Literature review – example 1, page 8


„By creating archetypes that repres ent the users of a product, products can be more user
          xxv
centric.‟

There may well be an element of compromise in this proc ess, as no system can cater and
satisfy each and every individual.

A further point to note is that It is also wort h considering the possibilities of doing user
research internationally, if that is also where the site also attract s business/interest:

„No guidelines yet published are sufficiently complete to guarantee perfect international
                                                               xxv i
usability, so an empirical reality check is always preferred‟.

      Defining content and functionality
The IA will have to consider how the content will help the user and business goals. Plus there
are areas in content management: creation, updat es, monitoring and metadata that can all fall
into the remit of an IA.

      Developing organisation schemes
Organisation schemes are embedded in every website to a greater or lesser degree, the more
successful ones would tend to be more organised, as users can find what they need more
efficiently. One of the main organisation schemes of a successful website is its taxonomy.
Rosenfeld and Morville make the followin g point in relation to the importance of addressing
the balance between exclusivity and inclusively when designing taxonomies for the web:

„…you should remember a few rules of thumb. First, you should be aware of, but not bound
                                                                         xxv ii
by, the idea that hierarchical categories should be mutually exclusive.‟

As the foundation of almost all good information archit ectures is a well-designed taxonomy, it
follows that a great deal of emphasis is placed upon its creation and maintenanc e. This work
normally falls into the hands of the IA, with support from the web team. The current
awareness around the importance of taxonomy and classification is growing:

„In a survey of 300 organisations, 68% of respondents thought that taxonomy was
„imperative‟, ‟very important‟, or „important‟ to business strategy. This is a marked 13%
                                                                                xxv iii
increase on the findings of the previous survey conducted two years earlier‟

The creation of any taxonomy involves a series of steps, which may vary from organisation to
organisation, but one take on the process it outlined below:

Simple Lists: These are straight forward lists of terms in association with the area to be dealt
with in anticipation of the taxonomy. In terms of a company intranet, the IA would have to
understand the in-house corporate language used to refer to everything:

„In many cases, organiz ations have specific lists of terms for things like format (for example
text, image or sound) and target audience (for example students, educators or
                                xxix
administrators), to name a few.

 The IA could consider having a number of specialist taxonomies for separate divisions of the
organisation, although this would not facilitate knowledge sharing as well. The IA would also
have to find out the language commonly used among the employees in the organisat ion, if
they are going to be the principal users of the site.

Synonym rings:

 „A synonym ring connects a series of terms together and treats them all as equivalent for
                  xxx
search purposes.‟

An example of a synonym ring for stars (in the case of astronomy) might be:

        Stars
                                                       Literature review – example 1, page 9


        Constellations
        Galaxies
        Etc.

„In the case of synonym rings, these terms are used to ex pand queries for content objects. If a
user ent ers one of these terms as a query to the system, all items are retrieved that contain
any of the terms in the cluster.‟

This stage is the basis for the Thesaurus construction which follows.

Thesauri: Thesaurus construction is helpful as part of the taxonomy preparation, but also in
preparation for the vocabulary of the site as a whole. If it is logically controlled through the
creation of a thesaurus, then some would argue that the users will have less difficulty finding
what they require. Some differences between Thesauri and synonym rings are outlined by
Warner (2004) below:

„The equivalence relationship differs from synonym rings in the sens e that synonym rings are
used to provide cont rol over similar terms in a collection that is not tagged; that is, there is no
control at input (tagging) but there is control at output (searching). On the other hand, thesauri
                                       xxxi
provide control at input and out put.‟

Rosenfeld and Morville define Thes auri as the following:

„A controlled vocabulary that may also include links to broader and narrower terms, as well as
                                                           xxxii
descriptions of preferred terms (a.k.a. „scope not es ‟)‟.

Thesauri organise their terms in three ways: as equivalent (Use…), hierarchical (NT- narrower
term), (B T-broader term) or related (RT). Equivalent terms should be identified first i.e;

        Eye doctor
               USE OPTOMETRIST

This indicates that „Optometrist‟ has been chosen as the preferred term rather than „eye
doctor‟. The reciprocal relations hip should always be provided (UF means „use for) i.e.:

        OPTOMETRIST
                          UF Eye doctor

The next stage would be to define the associative terms (broader/ related and narr ower). An
example of this process is demonstrated below with narrower terms:

Pet Dogs
       NT Afghan
          Bassett hound
          Beagle

Finally the related terms can be added, terms that are related in a way other than
hierarchically. E.g.:

Canaries
       RT Canary seed
          Canary breeders
          Canary cages

With the help of all of these techniques a taxonomy can then be created, based around the
discoveries made in regards to; language used in the organisation and by the us ers (lists),
general relati onships between terms (synonym rings), detailed relations hips bet ween terms
and cont rolled vocabularies (Thesaurus construction).

     Taxonomy Creation
                                                       Literature review – example 1, page 10


Taxonomies can be described as a classification scheme and thesaurus hybrid. In the web
environment they are a;
                                                                 xxxiii
„System of labels that form a hierarchical navigation scheme‟

Therefore the construction of a thesaurus is a key pre-tax onomy task, as it helps build the
foundations of the taxonomy. Creating a taxonomy is a complex task, there are aut omated
tools one can us e, but the general consensus is that human involvement is necessary, usually
human involvement of the IA kind:

„No matter the elegance of the algorithms, a computer program can never truly understand
                                                     xxxiv
the concepts involved in a page, as a human can do.‟

There are a variety of approaches an IA can adopt in its creation; top down, bottom up or
             xxxv
„middle out‟      , but the bottom up or middle out approaches are generally favoured.

A new perspective on the issue of taxonomy creation is the concept of a „ folksonomy‟, a term
coined by information archit ect Thomas Vander Wal to describe:

„… a collection of metadata created by users, which is developed in a collaborative „bottom -
              xxxv i
up‟ fashion…‟

Folksonomies are completely user generated, and allow users to c ategorize content such as
web pages, online photographs and web links, with the end result of improving search engine
effectiveness as the content is categorised by the users is for the users, using their familiar,
shared and accessible language.

Peter Mehrholz has compared folksonomies to:

„Paths in a grassy landscape that appear over time as pedestrians select the most
                                                 xxxv ii
appropriate walking route to their destinations‟

Here he gives us the idea that folksonomies are perhaps the usability experts‟ dream , even
though that dream may not be initially shared by the IA with an LIS (Library and Information
Science) background, who may fear for the effectiveness of such a large and unwieldy
folksonomy. After all, the web is a giant library..:
                                                                                      xxxv iii
„…a library that very oft en has the books on the floor and the lights turned out‟.

If the web is a Library then perhaps much could be gained from organising it along those
lines, to facilitate access, and put the „books‟ in their right place. Nevertheless not all are in
agreement, and feel that:

„Folksonomies aren‟t the answer to everything, but they could be the start of somet hing
      xxxix
big‟.

    Taxonomy Management
However the taxonomy is arrived at, once it is in place, it will have to be in a continual cycle of
maintenance, testing, review and amendment. Batley states (2005) that:

„Ideally a librarian or information manager should have overreaching res ponsibility for
                             xl
managing the taxonomy.‟

Issues regarding new category creation, adding documents, access, classification records
and overall cont ent management including metadata would all be areas in which the IA could
get involved.

     Developing the Interface
An IA could get involved wit h the development and design of the user interface, along with the
visual designer in terms of accessibility and usability. This would be a more common
                                                           Literature review – example 1, page 11


occurrence in a smaller organisation, where IAs would be more likely to get involved in a
wider remit in relation to IA, than they would in a larger organisation where the IAs would be
more specialised in particular are such as Metadata. Simon Wistow states that any friction
over the ownership of certain as pects of website design bet ween the designers, the techies
and the IAs should be resolved if they work together:

„Many of the issues between IAs and designers parallel the sore points bet ween techies and
IAs. The common lesson: we need to work together, collaborate, and appreciate and respect
                   xli
our differenc es.‟

As all of these disciplines do overlap to an extent, so it would be key that they collaborate to
produce the best work. The structuring of Information is important to an IA, but how that
information they have structured is present ed is also of great import ance; if all the content is
in written in red type, the hierarchical structure is at the bottom of the page and the search
box is hidden, then this will not help anyone.

Rosenfeld and Morville are aware that the Information Archit ecture discipline suffers from the
iceberg problem (see Fig. 3), as:

„Most of our clients and colleagues foc us on the interface, without appreciating the underlying
                          xlii
structure and semantics.‟

Good interfac e design will come about when Interface designers know to look beneath the
line, to understand the lower levels which play an important role towards a successful user
experience. The architecture and design should work together and compliment each other on
the site, not the opposite.




Fig. 3 The Information Architecture
Iceberg




                                              Interface




                                     Wireframes, blueprints
                              Metadata, classif ication schemes, thesauri
                           Information architecture strategies, project plans


                       Users                 Content               Context
                     Needs,behaviours structure,meaning       culture,technology
                                                      Literature review – example 1, page 12




      Follow up and Monitoring
All of these processes and tasks will have to be regularly monitored, updated and assessed to
see if they are working and to mak e sure they are responding to changing user needs and
requirements. It will be part of the IAs work to do some of this monitoring along with his/her
web team.

Ultimately users visit a website for its content, everything els e is just backdrop. Nielsen states:

„The old analogy is someone who goes to see a theat re performance; when they leave the
theatre, you want them to be discussing how great the play was – not how great the costumes
       xliii
were.‟

So the site has to also ensure its stickness and usage by adhering to Nielsen‟s „HOME‟
acronym, which explains the four reasons why users return to websites:

„H- High quality content
O- Often updated
M- Minimal download time
                xliv
E- Ease of use‟

Another objective would be to make sure and monitor that the site is providing continuous
relevance to the users‟ needs; this would be achieved through conducting a further
information audit at a later stage. There are numerous other tasks that an IA could perform
which could facilitate Nielsen‟s HOME objectives, but this also depends largely on the type of
project at hand, the type or size of the organisation the IA is working for, the goals it is
working towards, as well as the size of the web team and each individual‟s strengths. An IA
could spend their entire time optimising the search engine, dealing mainly with met adat a or
content management for example. The area is multi-facet ed but that does not mean the IA
must be an expert in all those facets, what is more it would be virtually impossible!

Can anyone be an Information Architect?
Currently there is no official certification process in the UK, although there are some
Universities in the USA offering postgraduate degrees in IA:

„Kent State University now offers a Master of Science in Information Architecture and
Knowledge Management… The University of Baltimore offers a Master of Science in
                                                  xlv
Interaction Design and Information Architecture.‟

Rosenfeld and Morville feel that the Masters in Information archit ecture will, as the field
matures become what the MBA is to business managers and administrators:

„The degree will not be essential to success nor a guarantee, but it will become an accepted
               xlv i
credential...‟

Until these courses appear in the UK, Masters courses in Library and Information Science
and Human Computer Interaction have formed the foundations of many an information
architects‟ preliminary understanding of the field of IA, but that is not to say that they are the
only courses that are relevant as an initial introduction to this field. As Rosenfeld and Morville
state:

„…No single discipline is the obvious sourc e for information architects. Each presents its own
                             xlv ii
strengths and weaknesses.‟

In Rosenfeld and Morvilles diagram below, we can see that there are many established fields
which could contribute to this area:

Fig. 4
                                                       Literature review – example 1, page 13




An Information Science concentration in librarian education enables us to oft en do IA quite
well, or become good IAs as many of the skills such as: Cataloguing (which can be likened to
working with metadata), Classification (parallels with Taxonomies), and indexing and
Thesaurus construction (which can be likened to Ontology construction).

Many of the key or „hard‟ skills are frequently discussed in relation to IA such as being able to
organise information, and carry out usability testing etc. whereas soft skills are not mentioned
to such an extent. Van Dijck says that for an IA:
                                        xlv iii
„…the number one skill is listening‟.

Jeff Lash considers those soft skills to be:
                                                               xlix
„… Dealing with conflict, negotiating, and communicating.‟

Lash later goes on to add:

„While much attention is paid to skills specific to information architecture, and deservedly so,
these soft skills can make the differenc e between a competent professional and a truly
                                        l
effective and successful practitioner.‟

Rosenfeld and Morville warn potential IA recruiters that:

„Whomever you use as an information arc hitect, keep this in mind: everyone (including
authors) is biased by thei r disciplinary pers pective. If at all possible try to ensure that various
disciplines are represented on your website development team to guarantee a balanced
architecture.‟

Conclusion
Unorganised information is a threat (Tsunami)

(My p.5) risen from 20% to 80% 2003
unclear how much IA will be done in future and by whom
                                                             Literature review – example 1, page 14



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ii
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iii
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iv
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xii
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xvi
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xvii
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xxi
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xxii
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xxiii
  Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
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                                                              Literature review – example 1, page 15



xxiv
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xxv
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xxvi
        Nielsen, Jakob. (2000) Jakob Nielsen: designing web usability, Indianapolis: New Riders, P.333.
xxvii
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xxviii
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xxix
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xxx
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xxxi
   Warner, Amy. J. (2004) Information architecture and vocabularies for browse and search, in
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Barry (eds), London: Facet, pp.179-181.

xxxii
   Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
Second edition. Sebastopol: O‟Reilly, p. 49.
xxxiii
    Warner, Amy. J. (2004) Information architecture and vocabularies for browse and search, in
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xxxiv
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xxxv
  Uschold, M.and Gruninger, M. (1996) „Ontologies: principles, methods and applications‟, Knowledge
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xxxvi
   Learned Information Europe (2005) Market Watch; Taxonomy and Folksonomy, Information World
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xxxvii
   Learned Information Europe (2005) Market Watch; Taxonomy and Folksonomy, Information World
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xxxviii
    McGovern, Gerry. (1996-2006) Gerry McGovern Available at: http://www.gerrymcgovern.com
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xxxix
  Learned Information Europe (2005) Market Watch; Taxonomy and Folksonomy, Information World
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xl
      Batley, Sue. (2005) Classification in Theory and Practice, Oxford: Chandos, P.154.
xli
      Simon Wistow (2003) Talking at the IA Summit: making connections, Oregon.
xlii
  Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
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xliii
          Nielsen, Jakob. (2000) Jakob Nielsen: designing web usability, Indianapolis : New Riders, P.99.

xliv
          Nielsen, Jakob. (2000) Jakob Nielsen: designing web usability, Indianapolis : New Riders, P.380.

xlv
  Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
Second edition. Sebastopol: O‟Reilly, p. 309.
                                                         Literature review – example 1, page 16



xlvi
   Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
Second edition. Sebastopol: O‟Reilly, p. 309.

xlvii
   Rosenfeld, Louis. and Morville, Peter. (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web ,
Second edition. Sebastopol: O‟Reilly, p. 18.

xlviii
    Dijck, Peter Van. (2003) Information Architecture for Designers: structuring web sites for b usiness
success, East Sussex: RotoVision, P.13.

xlix
   Digital Web Magazine (1994-2006) Available at : http://www.d igital-web.co m (Accessed: 8 May
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l
 Digital Web Magazine (1994-2006) Available at : http://www.d igital-web.co m (Accessed: 8 May
2006)

				
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