As a creative organization, we are always looking for ways to improve our processes while at the same time give our customer the best value for their dollar. For a while, we strayed away from using wireframes during the information architecture and design stages. Too often, wireframes influence the design direction of a site, and we didn’t want that to be the case here at Aten. We have great designers that are up for the challenge of giving the site well-balanced visual appeal.
As an information architect I like to straddle the line between web design and librarianship. Both areas require the individual to understand the importance of organizing information so that it is user-focused and easy to browse. During their training, librarians focus on learning how users find and interact with information. They understand how to organize information and add valuable labels to groups of similar items, topics, and ideas. Many Library and Information Science (LIS) masters programs are adding information architecture classes to their course catalog.
On Monday evening my colleagues Chris Coughlan, Jon Clark and I had the pleasure of representing Aten at the annual membership meeting of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Special Libraries Association. The RMSLA is a board-run association, which strives to enhance skills and promote value for individuals in Special Libraries and Information Organizations. Special Libraries are just that: special.
I feel like a lot of my posts start out the same way, "We used to do something this way, and now we do something this other way." Just like our design and build process is very iterative with our clients, our internal process is very iterative as well. We are always trying to make our process better and more efficient.
In the past year, we've added a final step to our information architecture process that we call "Drupal Architecture". Call it what you will, but the outcome is a document that outlines the content types, fields, and taxonomies that we'll use to build the perspective site.
Yesterday we launched cironline.org, along with the incredible team at the Center for Investigative Reporting. The website looks fantastic (if we do say so ourselves) — on your phone and tablet, as well as your computer.
We spend significant time and effort in the information architecture phase of projects, during which our principle goal is to create an effective sitemap. As with other steps in the process, we pitch an initial recommendation, solicit feedback, host discussions, make some changes, rinse and repeat. Also similar to other parts of the process, it is critical to establish metrics that define a particular final product as successful. With sitemaps, this has proven particularly important.
We take a content-first approach to building websites. That means that one of the first things we'll do in a project is ask you for all the content you plan on publishing to the web. Here are a few reasons why.
Card-sorting and cluster analysis for information architecture.