Archives for Information architecture

The many faces of information architecture.

A lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounds the term ‘information architecture’. The multitude of activities that can be labelled with these two words span a vast variety of people, skills and situations. If you ask for an information architecture, what exactly are you going to receive in return? Similarly, if someone tells you they are going to provide you with an information architecture, for a website or intranet for example, what exactly does that mean? A primer, not a dictionary This paper aims to explain the many faces of information architecture. A precise definition of each term would be difficult,

Why staff visit the intranet.

Organisations often envisage their intranets as integral to the way staff do their jobs. Staff are expected to visit the intranet daily. While this is an admirable goal, it doesn’t necessarily match the reality of most intranets today. There are clear reasons for staff to use the intranet, but these are not always well understood. In practice, there are two key reasons for a staff member to come to the intranet: to find a specific piece of information, or to complete a specific task. Recognising this, intranet designers can ensure that intranet resources are targeted in ways that will have

Book review: Organising Knowledge — Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness.

Organising Knowledge: Taxonomies, Knowledge and Organisational Effectiveness Patrick Lambe, 2007 Taxonomies are often surrounded by an air of reverence and mystique. Traditionally seen as the domain of librarians, recordkeepers and botanists, they are now hot property in business circles, but no better understood. Patrick Lambe’s book sets out to systematically address these issues, by introducing, explaining and exploring taxonomies. Coming from a background as a librarian, knowledge management expert and consultant, Patrick draws together many topics to provide a rich view of taxonomies in the real world. This is not a how-to manual. While a strong overall methodology is outlined

Usability and IA are core skills for intranet teams.

It goes without saying that an intranet is only successful if staff can easily find the information they need, when they need it. Recognising this, the majority of intranet teams follow a ‘user-centred methodology’ when they redesign the intranet. This involves making use of core usability and information architecture (IA) techniques, such as card sorting and usability testing. In many cases, intranet teams bring in external consultants or contractors to assist with the redesign project, relying on these individuals to provide the necessary usability and IA skills. While there are many good reasons for doing this, what is often not

Is left-hand navigation evil?.

The design of intranets can be pretty standard, with many sites following the same basic layout. The diagram above shows a typical intranet page, consisting of the following elements: page header, containing global navigation left-hand navigation, containing local navigation body of the page page footer This is all pretty standard, nothing that anyone wouldn’t immediate recognise. By default, new intranet designs tend to automatically follow this model. All that being said, I’m nonetheless starting to wonder: is left-hand navigation evil? The good Left-hand navigation is obviously not inherently evil. There is a clear need to help users to navigate their