Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition

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Today's web sites have moved far beyond "brochureware." They are larger and more complex, have great strategic value to their sponsors, and their users are busier and less forgiving. Designers, information architects, and web site managers are required to juggle vast amounts of information, frequent changes, new technologies, and sometimes even multiple objectives, making some web sites look like a fast-growing but poorly planned city-roads everywhere, but impossible to navigate. Well-planned information ...

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Today's web sites have moved far beyond "brochureware." They are larger and more complex, have great strategic value to their sponsors, and their users are busier and less forgiving. Designers, information architects, and web site managers are required to juggle vast amounts of information, frequent changes, new technologies, and sometimes even multiple objectives, making some web sites look like a fast-growing but poorly planned city-roads everywhere, but impossible to navigate. Well-planned information architecture has never been as essential as it is now.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 2nd Edition, shows you how to blend aesthetics and mechanics for distinctive, cohesive web sites that work. Most books on web development concentrate on either the graphics or the technical issues of a site. This book focuses on the framework that holds the two together.

This edition contains more than 75% new material. You'll find updated chapters on organization, labeling, navigation, and searching; and a new chapter on thesauri, controlled vocabularies and metadata will help you understand the interconnectedness of these systems. The authors have expanded the methodology chapters to include a more interdisciplinary collection of tools and techniques. They've also complemented the top-down strategies of the first edition with bottom-up approaches that enable distributed, emergent solutions.

A whole new section addresses the opportunities and challenges of practicing information architecture, while another section discusses how that work impacts and is influenced by the broader organizational context. New case studies provide models for creating enterprise intranet portals and online communities. Finally, you'll find pointers to a wealth of essential information architecture resources, many of which did not exist a few years ago.

By applying the principles outlined in this completely updated classic, you'll build web sites and intranets that are easier to navigate and appealing to your users, as well as scalable and simple to maintain. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 2nd Edition is a treasure trove of ideas and practical advice for anyone involved in building or maintaining a large, complex web site or intranet.

How do you balance organizational needs and audience needs? What determines Web content and functionality? How will users find information? How will your Web site change and grow? This book answers these questions and shows how the latest Web architecture can benefit your business enterprise. The authors help you determine whether your Web site should be a corporate intranet or an Internet flagship. They begin with a "...walk in the shoes of site users," and guide you through web principles, information organization, navigation design and good search systems. Then, they demonstrate site research and planning, including factors on site mission, budget, timeline, audiences and content. Content is considered the downfall of many sites. The book also focuses on conceptual design, site production and operation. You learn to create an appealing, comprehensive and succinct Web site.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
You know you need to pay close attention to information architecture. But are you really comfortable with your level of expertise on the subject? It’s time to stop talking a good game about information architecture, learn what works, and start leveraging the field’s best practices. One book can help: Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition.

You’ll start with the fundamentals: what information architecture consists of, whose responsibility it is, and how to incorporate it into your already complex development process. Through practical examples, the authors show how to bring cohesion to even the most complex sites and intranets.

Next, they walk through every key component of information architecture: categorization (often “ambiguous” approaches are better than “precise” ones); labeling; navigation; and search. You’ll learn how to maximize flexibility in navigation without excess clutter; how to improve your search engine’s results (tip: don’t leave all the decisions to IT); even how to write effective link descriptions.

Perhaps most valuable, the coverage of process: researching your audience and content; brainstorming; creating blueprints, page mockups, style guides… then actually implementing your site and responding to feedback from -- can it be? -- actual users. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

Library Journal
Saul Wurman first used the term Information Architecture in his book of the same name. His book was mostly lots of really pretty pictures of media and webs compiled from a graphic design perspective; they were beautiful but never really dealt with the information end of things. Rosenfeld and Morville get it right. They show how to design manageable sites right the first time, sites built for growth. They discuss ideas of organization, navigation, labeling, searching, research, and conceptual design. This is almost common sense, which is often overlooked in the rush for cascading style sheets and XML. Essential reading for librarians and information managers who deal with the World Wide Web in any parts of their jobs.
Teaches the skills necessary to become a succesful information architect (IA). 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, search interfaces, architecture blueprints, and a case study that demonstrates the evolution of an information architecture for a real client. Intended for webmasters, designers, and regular users. Avoids technical jargon in order to be accessible to anyone interested in creating a web site. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
John S. Rhodes

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780596000356
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/9/2002
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

Lou Rosenfeld is an independent information architecture consultant. He has been instrumental in helping establish the field of information architecture, and in articulating the role and value of librarianship within the field. Lou played a leading role in organizing and programming the first three information architecture conferences (both ASIS&T Summits and IA 2000). He also presents and moderates at such venues as CHI, COMDEX, Intranets, and the web design conferences produced by Miller Freeman, C|net and Thunder Lizard. He teaches tutorials as part of the Nielsen Norman Group User Experience Conference.

Peter Morville is President and Founder of Semantic Studios, a leading information architecture and knowledge management consulting firm. From 1994 to 2001, Peter was Chief Executive Officer and a co-owner of Argus Associates, a pioneering information architecture design firm with world-class clients including 3Com, AT&T, Compaq, Ernst & Young, Ford, IBM, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and the Weather Channel. He also served as Executive Director of the ACIA. Over the past 8 years, Peter has written and spoken extensively about information architecture, business strategy, and knowledge management. He has been interviewed by Business Week, Knowledge Management magazine, MSNBC, and the Wall Street Journal.

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Table of Contents

What’s New in the Second Edition;
Organization of This Book;
Audience for This Book;
Conventions for This Book;
Contacting the Authors;
Contacting O’Reilly;
Introducing Information Architecture;
Chapter 1: Defining Information Architecture;
1.1 A Definition;
1.2 Tablets, Scrolls, Books, and Libraries;
1.3 Explaining IA to Others;
1.4 What Isn’t Information Architecture?;
1.5 Why Information Architecture Matters;
1.6 Bringing Our Work to Life;
Chapter 2: Practicing Information Architecture;
2.1 Do We Need Information Architects?;
2.2 Who’s Qualified to Practice Information Architecture?;
2.3 Information Architecture Specialists;
2.4 Practicing Information Architecture in the Real World;
2.5 Information Ecologies;
2.6 What Lies Ahead;
Chapter 3: User Needs and Behaviors;
3.1 The “Too-Simple” Information Model;
3.2 Information Needs;
3.3 Information Seeking Behaviors;
Basic Principles of Information Architecture;
Chapter 4: The Anatomy of an Information Architecture;
4.1 Visualizing Information Architecture;
4.2 Information Architecture Components;
Chapter 5: Organization Systems;
5.1 Challenges of Organizing Information;
5.2 Organizing Web Sites and Intranets;
5.3 Organization Schemes;
5.4 Organization Structures;
5.5 Creating Cohesive Organization Systems;
Chapter 6: Labeling Systems;
6.1 Why You Should Care About Labeling;
6.2 Varieties of Labels;
6.3 Designing Labels;
Chapter 7: Navigation Systems;
7.1 Types of Navigation Systems;
7.2 Gray Matters;
7.3 Browser Navigation Features;
7.4 Building Context;
7.5 Improving Flexibility;
7.6 Embedded Navigation Systems;
7.7 Supplemental Navigation Systems;
7.8 Advanced Navigation Approaches;
Chapter 8: Search Systems;
8.1 Does Your Site Need Search?;
8.2 Basic Search System Anatomy;
8.3 Choosing What to Search;
8.4 Search Algorithms;
8.5 Presenting Results;
8.6 Designing the Search Interface;
8.7 Where to Learn More;
Chapter 9: Thesauri, Controlled Vocabularies, and Metadata;
9.1 Metadata;
9.2 Controlled Vocabularies;
9.3 Technical Lingo;
9.4 A Thesaurus in Action;
9.5 Types of Thesauri;
9.6 Thesaurus Standards;
9.7 Semantic Relationships;
9.8 Preferred Terms;
9.9 Polyhierarchy;
9.10 Faceted Classification;
Process and Methodology;
Chapter 10: Research;
10.1 Process Overview;
10.2 A Research Framework;
10.3 Context;
10.4 Content;
10.5 Users;
10.6 Participant Definition and Recruiting;
10.7 User Research Sessions;
10.8 In Defense of Research;
Chapter 11: Strategy;
11.1 What Is an Information Architecture Strategy?;
11.2 Strategies Under Attack;
11.3 From Research to Strategy;
11.4 Developing the Strategy;
11.5 Work Products and Deliverables;
11.6 The Strategy Report;
11.7 The Project Plan;
11.8 Presentations;
Chapter 12: Design and Documentation;
12.1 Guidelines for Diagramming an Information Architecture;
12.2 Blueprints;
12.3 Wireframes;
12.4 Content Mapping and Inventory;
12.5 Content Modeling;
12.6 Controlled Vocabularies;
12.7 Design Sketches;
12.8 Web-Based Prototypes;
12.9 Architecture Style Guides;
12.10 Point-of-Production Architecture;
12.11 Administration;
Information Architecture in Practice;
Chapter 13: Education;
13.1 Chaos in Education;
13.2 A World of Choice;
13.3 But Do I Need a Degree?;
Chapter 14: Ethics;
14.1 Ethical Considerations;
14.2 Shaping the Future;
Chapter 15: Building an Information Architecture Team;
15.1 Destructive Acts of Creation;
15.2 Fast and Slow Layers;
15.3 Project Versus Program;
15.4 Buy or Rent;
15.5 Do We Really Need to Hire Professionals?;
15.6 The Dream Team;
Chapter 16: Tools and Software;
16.1 A Time of Change;
16.2 Categories in Chaos;
16.3 Questions to Ask;
Information Architecture in the Organization;
Chapter 17: Making the Case for Information Architecture;
17.1 You Must Sell;
17.2 The Two Kinds of People in the World;
17.3 Running the Numbers;
17.4 Talking to the Reactionaries;
17.5 Other Case-Making Techniques;
17.6 The Information Architecture Value Checklist;
17.7 A Final Note;
Chapter 18: Business Strategy;
18.1 The Origins of Strategy;
18.2 Defining Business Strategy;
18.3 Strategic Fit;
18.4 Exposing Gaps in Business Strategy;
18.5 One Best Way;
18.6 Many Good Ways;
18.7 Understanding Our Elephant;
18.8 Competitive Advantage;
18.9 The End of the Beginning;
Chapter 19: Information Architecture for the Enterprise;
19.1 Economies Don’t Always Scale;
19.2 “Think Different”;
19.3 The Ultimate Goal;
19.4 A Framework for Centralization;
19.5 Timing Is Everything: A Phased Rollout;
19.6 Strategy Versus Tactics: Who Does What;
19.7 A Framework for Moving Forward;
Case Studies;
Chapter 20: MSWeb: An Enterprise Intranet;
20.1 Challenges for the User;
20.2 Challenges for the Information Architect;
20.3 We Like Taxonomies, Whatever They Are;
20.4 Benefits to Users;
20.5 What’s Next;
20.6 MSWeb’s Achievement;
Chapter 21: An Online Community;
21.1 in a Nutshell;
21.2 Architecting an Online Community;
21.3 The Participation Economy;
21.4 How Information Architecture Fits In;
21.5 Trouble Spots for Online Communities;
21.6 The “Un-Information Architecture”;
Essential Resources;
Formal Education;
News and Opinion;
Examples, Deliverables, and Tools;

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2007

    Eye opening

    This book really opened my eyes, as I haven¿t really thought about Information Architecture as a discipline, which is probably a natural thing for me, as I am a programmer. What I found intriguing about this book is the ¿take a step back¿ approach by the authors to analyze a business¿s overall strategy for user experience. This forces the product owner to ask: how should users find things on this site? What kind of things would I want to find as a user? How can the site¿s navigation be improved to promote easier searching? The answers to these types of questions and help your Information Architect begin to formulate on overall architecture strategy. After a good introduction to what IA is, the authors take the reader through the basic principles of this discipline. In this section, the authors discuss organization and labeling of systems, navigation, and searching. In the third section of the book, the authors go into the practice of actually implementing the principles in the previous section. Finally, the authors examine case studies from two different sites, where they examine how IA fit into the overall goal of the application. I felt this book gave me a basic understanding of what Information Architecture is, and what types of things to look out for in developing an IA strategy. I would recommend this book if you have large amounts of data you want web users to have access to.

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