Discovering Information Architecture
While I purchase books for our Professional Collection at work, rarely do I then read them. Instead, they sit on the shelf in our Coordinator’s office and look impressive. A notable exception is a work by David Lee King called Designing the Digital Experience that I purchased from David last year at Internet Librarian. I made the decision to read this book because something has been nagging me about the way I’ve been approaching our web site re-design. After delving through the chapter on “Information Architecture and Usability” in David’s book, I now see why I’ve been troubled about my current process – – I hadn’t discovered information architecture!
Back in the 1980’s, our LIS classes didn’t discuss computers much less information architecture. Why should they… the web didn’t exist back then, at least not for the masses! Frankly, it wasn’t until our current LIS student asked me to order a book on this topic that it even dawned on me that I might be missing something important.
Mr. King quotes (p.38) a definition of information architecture taken from Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville:
“Combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems within websites and intranets.”
While this was just one of four definitions quoted from Rosenfeld and Morville, it made the most sense to me, especially when the author went on to discuss each of the definition components in detail. When I break down those four systems in relation to our Library web site, I realize where we’ve succeeded and failed on our current pages. It also gives me confidence that we can do better in our Joomla site. With this newly gained knowledge in hand, I plan on stepping back from my template shopping frenzy and focusing instead on a labeling schema; navigation systems; which searches to include on our site and where to place them; and most important – the site organization.
While I may not stay up burning the midnight oil trying to finish David’s book tonight, I feel that it has opened my Baby-Boomer’s mind to new and valuable information that I’ll put to good use in my journey through Joomla-Land and our new Library web site.