Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Editionby Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville
This guide teaches the skills necessary to become a successful information architect (IA). It covers the importance of recognizing the site user's perspective, the IA's role in developing Web sites, the various ways that sites can be made browsable, creating effective and descriptive content labels.See more details below
This guide teaches the skills necessary to become a successful information architect (IA). It covers the importance of recognizing the site user's perspective, the IA's role in developing Web sites, the various ways that sites can be made browsable, creating effective and descriptive content labels.
Stop Designing Web Pages, Start Developing Web Sites
In my early days as a cognitive scientist, I came across a bit of research that explained how the neurons in your brain produce a surplus of electrical activity when you encounter novel information. My interest in this area has waned over the last few years, but I do bring it up from time to time with friends and family. I'll avoid replaying the long-winded and dramatic explanation I give them -- in a nutshell, the light bulbs that kids draw over peoples' heads are based on a scientific reality.
When I read Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, I was satisfied to feel the bulb burning brightly above my head. Since I am a human factors engineer and usability professional, most of the concepts in the book were not new to me. However, I repeatedly observed that this book is one of the only resources that brings the eclectic ideas of web site information architecture together.
Rosenfeld and Morville bring to light some theoretically powerful material regarding the planning, design, testing, and maintenance of large scale web sites. Their approach, as the title suggests, is information architecture. The authors explain that people tend to design web pages rather than web sites, and they show how this is detrimental. When web pages are not developed within a well-conceived information architecture framework, the web site will suffer: Customers will complain, users will not revisit the site, and products will not sell. The big picture is crucial.
Human Factors and Usability
From a human factors and usability point of view, I was relieved to see that Information Architecture for the World Wide Web described web site development from two important angles -- the needs of the users and overall site planning. Knowing and understanding the users of your web site is crucial. Also, the planning behind a web site (e.g., developing content, planning for growth, creating an outline) can make or break it. Content development and navigation were given great attention by the authors also. Not surprisingly, the best web sites pay attention to all of these things.
I was pleased to see that the book runs contrary to the glut of graphic-design-oriented web-development books available that tend to focus on issues like graphics, HTML, and page layout. I admit that these issues are important, even critical, but only after your users are considered, planning takes place, and the content for the site is generated.
Not The Holy Grail
You would be wrong to think that this book is the answer to all of your web site problems. While the book is well written and insightful, it seems to be more of an introduction to a broad set of user-centered, site-planning heuristics. I feel that Rosenfeld and Morville are so intent on the big picture that readers will be unhappy with the lack of tools. I was left wanting more details and how-to's. Unlike most O'Reilly books, which can be a bit hefty, Information Architecture is only around 200 pages. The authors could have easily provided more examples, tools, and techniques to help the reader utilize their provocative approach. There are some great pointers, but not enough to satisfy. For example, Chapter 10, "Information Architecture in Action," was a case study meant to bring many of the book's ideas together, but it fell short for the reasons just mentioned. Similarly, the selected bibliography is a great resource, but it doesn't compensate for the lack of details throughout the book.
The book is certain to be an eye opener for many web site developers. If you have not utilized human factors and usability analysis, user-centered design, or information architecture in your web site development, I strongly recommend this book. But beware, the book is primarily laden with theory, not tools. I think you might be disappointed if you are looking for a hands-on formula for creating a great web site.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books
- O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Second Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 7.12(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.26(d)
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