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Live from Barcamp: How to bluff your way through an interview on Information Architecture

By: Coleman Yee, Room 3, 02:00PM

Why does anyone need an information architect?

Ans: The basic goal is to make a website user friendly. Make information easy to find.

Going further, it’s easier to build small houses than large complexes with plenty of rooms, wiring, pipes, etc… It’s the same with information architecture. How do you design a system that stores and retrieves information that saves you time and money?

2:15 Coleman just shared www.amazon.com as a good example. Do we go to Amazon to get something we have in mind, or do we go in there knowing already what we want? Amazon knows this.

2:17 The information architect can present information that’s drawn from previous databases, studying trends, and present that relevant information to a relevant customer. It automates the “recommendation” function you might find from a store helper, much like www.stumbleupon.com and www.last.fm although these examples are more closer to the semantic web.

2:20 Coleman asks, How would you go about redesigning your website?
– There’s context. What is the goal of the website? Usually the goal of the company. Look into the company’s stakeholder interviews to find out what a company’s key messages and positions are with regards to their stakeholders.

– Beyond strategic direction comes content. Current content on a current website is probably not enough. You need to conduct a content audit / inventory

– Next comes the users. Who are the people using the website? You can conduct Surveys, Focus groups, Interviews and Observations. (I wished he could expand more about this, but he’s moved on to another example now.)

2:26 Coleman cites an example of ship captains who use the Internet via satallite and need information that is not data packet heavy. IA helps tackle such requirements.

2:27 Design. – Hierachal? The information architect has to come up with a reorganisation of the content database that increases productivity and user experience.

Wireframes – No design element. Shows text layout, functionality.. it kinda looks like a black and white skeleton of how your website would look without skin.

2:32 So, like a real life architect, the information architect comes up with the blueprint, and a contractor helps build the site, designers can help skin it.

2:34 Coleman has a sense of satisfaction when people tell him when a site is user friendly. Awwwww… Group HUG! (courtesy of iantimothy)

That’s it! From the people next to me. “That’s the most educational talk i’ve heard at Barcamp.” “IA is awesome!”

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Filed under: technology