Information Architecture   «Prev  Next»
Lesson 2 Roles and responsibilities
Objective Identify how team members contribute to information architecture.

Roles and Responsibilities

Developing information architecture is an increasingly important and distinct task in the Web development process. In the early days of website development, this task was performed in a somewhat improvised, instinctive manner by people in other job roles, such as graphic designers or programmers. Now, there is a specific field of training for Web professionals in information architecture or information and library studies.
  1. IA is a Growing Field: The field of information architecture is an amalgam of cognitive psychology, library science, and knowledge of various high-end, robust website applications such as Active Server Pages (ASP) and database applications and structures. Information sharing of distributed objects is a crucial part of the Web, and this form of information sharing differs significantly from simple client/server data processing.
  2. Who creates Information Architecture? As with signs and metaphors, team members in the creative roles play the central part in defining the information architecture of the site. However, the business roles, in particular your marketing professionals, are likely to want significant input into how the site is perceived and experienced by users. The information architecture, along with the signs and metaphors that are used, are the principal determinants of a user's experience of the site (assuming that the technology functions as desired).

How Team Members contribute to Information Architecture

Let's break down how various team members can contribute to information architecture (IA) within the specific context of library studies training: **Core Team Roles and Contributions**
  1. Librarians / Subject Matter Experts** * **Deep Content Knowledge: Understand the structure of library-related knowledge, classification systems (Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress), and controlled vocabularies. * **User Understanding: Intimate knowledge of the needs of library patrons: students, researchers, educators, and the general public. * **Navigation Patterns: Provide insights into how different user groups search for and discover resources within libraries and digital archives.
  2. Instructional Designers** * **Learning Objectives: Determine the goals and outcomes of training materials, ensuring the IA supports knowledge and skill acquisition. * **Task Analysis: Break down complex library-related processes into steps or modules, mirroring how users might learn and apply skills. * **Usability Focus: Advocate for intuitive navigation and clear labeling that facilitates learning, especially for novice users.
  3. Web Developers / UX Designers** * **Technical Implementation: Translate the IA into menus, navigation structures, and sitemaps within the chosen platform (Learning Management System, etc.). * **Interaction Design: Ensure search functionality, faceted navigation, or other interactive elements are optimized for findability and align with IA principles. * **Accessibility: Implement the IA in a way that adheres to accessibility standards (WCAG) making sure the content is usable by people with disabilities.
  4. User Researchers / Testers** * **Validate Assumptions: Test early IA designs with representative users (library studies students, new librarians) through card sorting, tree testing, or usability studies. * **Identify Pain Points: Pinpoint areas where the IA conflicts with users' expectations or causes confusion. * **Iterative Improvement: Provide feedback to refine the IA over time.
Collaboration is Key The most effective IA development in this context will involve:
* **Cross-functional Communication: Regular discussions between librarians, instructional designers, and developers to bridge domain knowledge and technical constraints. * **Shared Understanding of the User: A focus on the target audience of the training materials should drive all IA decisions. Example Scenario
  • Problem: Developing online training for new library staff in archival cataloging techniques.
  • Team Collaboration:
    • Librarians: Outline existing archival standards and how they're applied.
    • Instructional Designers: Structure the learning modules to match workflow steps and skill progression.
    • Developers: Choose a content structure (nested pages, sequential, database-like) that supports the learning goals.

A Team Effort

Information architects work with
  1. content developers,
  2. marketing directors,
  3. business strategists,
  4. clients,
  5. end users, and
  6. the technical staff
to design and develop a site's navigation and architecture.

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Using Team Resources

To meet the needs of both the organization and the site users, an information architect works with a variety of roles. For example, the Business role provides marketing information regarding audiences and purposes for the site. The Creative role provides designs that complement and support the information architecture (and vice versa). The Technical role provides crucial descriptions of the technical capabilities of the site, such as whether a particular database structure will serve the content or how sophisticated the search function can be. To review the roles and responsibilities of WebTeam, click the desks on the blueprint below. You can start with the Information Architect’s workspace to understand how the roles are organized. In the following lesson, your task is to learn how the needs of the site users determine the choices regarding information architecture.

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