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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: ReL [Sigia-l] information architecture in practice

ReL [Sigia-l] information architecture in practice

From: Jesse Wilbur (jdwilbur_at_email.unc.edu)
Date: Thu Jun 30 2005 - 16:01:37 EDT


Andi,

I have wrestled with the same problem, and come to a different solution
than James. From my point of view, information architecture can be done
when you are a team of one, but it is most appropriate where you must
communicate between several teams. I think this is where an IA can
really excel. Here, the IA keeps the big picture in mind - business
strategy, technical execution, user experience, and product marketing
(and maybe even graphic design)*. The IA documentation isn't really *in*
the system, but directs people how to build the system. So, really, what
I'm saying is, we make paper.

At least, that's the trail I'm following on my way towards IA greatness
; ). It is a totally different path than the more specific, but equally
valuable taxonomy/metadata route. I guess I'm going Big IA (does anyone
even say that anymore?), and trying to integrate with the world of
design rather than the technical world of markup and implementation.

So, to deal with your question: how do I translate these documents into
code. Yes, it's true that experience will help with that. But from my
experience, what bridges the gap between IA docs and working pages are
the functional specifications (cf. functional requirements). The
functional specs require you to detail your data elements and the system
response and what shows up in the interface and maybe even something
about how the code is architected. The func specs explain exactly what
happens when a user presses button X. Joel Spolsky wrote something
about this that I like:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000036.html

But, the truth is, not very many people have enough time in their day to
work up ALL the different documents in the IA arsenal, so I'd recommend
(through, yes, experience) figuring out which ones you find are the most
helpful in 1) getting your personal projects done, 2) getting your group
projects done.

Jesse Wilbur
http://www.jdwilbur.org

*pretty much lifted straight out of the Polar Bear book

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