Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences

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As physical and digital interactions intertwine, new challenges for digital product designers and developers, as well as, industrial designers and architects are materializing. While well versed in designing navigation, organization, and labelling of websites and software, professionals are faced the crucial challenge of how to apply these techniques to information systems that cross communication channels that link the digital world to the physical world.

Pervasive Information Architecture provides examples showing why and how one would:

  • Model and shape information to adapt itself to users’ needs, goals, and seeking strategies
  • Reduce disorientation and increase legibility and way-finding in digital and physical spaces
  • Alleviate the frustration associated with choosing from an ever-growing set of information, services, and goods
  • Suggest relevant connections between pieces of information, services and goods to help users achieve their goals.

• Master agile information structures while meeting the unique user needs on such devices as smart phones, GPS systems, and tablets

• Find out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of pervasive information architecture (IA) through detailed examples and real-world stories

• Learn about trade-offs that can be made and techniques for even the most unique design challenges

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is required reading for all information architects and user experience designers. It’s a brilliant guide to the design of products and experiences that bridge multiple platforms and channels… The best book you'll find about the emerging practice of cross-channel user experience design."— Peter Morville, foreword author and author of Ambient Findability and co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"The rise of pervasive technology encourages information to roam free from the confines of the desktop into every aspect of our lives. To navigate this complex, cross-media environment, we need master architects. This book, from two of the field’s foremost thinkers, is a shining landmark for this new world."— Cennydd Bowles, author, Undercover User Experience Design

"It has been a long time since I've been excited about an Information Architecture book. Andrea and Luca have done something truly innovative in bringing Information Architecture out of the design studio and into the streets. A lot of people talk about "pervasive" and "holistic" as ideals — this book provides solid thought around cross-channel/multi-channel customer experience design. It effectively challenges the view that any one service delivery channel (such as web, or call center, or shopfront) can be considered in isolation. I will be actively recommending this book to colleagues and clients."— Andrew Boyd, UX Community Lead, SMS Management and Technology (

"Resmini and Rosati have delivered a landmark volume in the evolution of information architecture, communicating relatively esoteric insights about our changing info-landscape in a humane and personable manner. If your work involves shaping how people experience digital and data-informed products and services, then you need to read this book."-Christian Crumlish, co-author of Designing Social Interfaces

This unique text offers an attractive, reader-friendly layout, demonstrating concepts creatively with thought-provoking color and b&w photos, illustrations, and images, many from art history. The volume is designed so that readers can jump from image to image and find the core ideas of the chapter. Sidebars of key ideas also increase the book's browsability. Employing a multidisciplinary approach to information architecture and the design of the new pervasive information spaces, the book draws on insights in diverse disciplines from cognitive psychology to cinema. Each chapter begins with a short story and concludes with case studies and a list of articles, books, movies, and videos. — SciTech Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780123820945
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 4/13/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea is an information architect with FatDUX, a UX firm with headquarters in Copenhagen, and a researcher at the University of Borås, Sweden.
An ICT professional since 1989 and a practising information architect since 1999, Andrea holds a PhD in Legal Informatics and a MA in Architecture and Industrial Design, and he is currently President of the Information Architecture Institute.

He pretends to play the piano, reads far too many books, chairs the Italian IA Summit, and co-founded the Journal of Information Architecture.

Luca is a freelance information architect. One of Italy’s pioneer, he has been a speaker at several international conferences - including EuroIA, the IA Summit, and HCI International.

Luca is the co-author of the book Organizing Knowledge: From Libraries to Information Architecture for the Web (Tecniche Nuove, 2006) and the author of Information Architecture: From Everyday things to the Web (Apogeo, 2007).

He is a member of the EuroIA Organizing Committee, sits on the Italian IA Summit Board, and is and editor for the Journal of Information Architecture.

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Read an Excerpt

Pervasive Information Architecture

Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences
By Andrea Resmini Luca Rosati

Morgan Kaufmann

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-12-382095-2

Chapter One

From Multichannel to Cross-channel

We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling, and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life—including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other. A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content, and in the process, these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government, education, and commerce. (Jenkins 2005).

SHORT STORY #1: IN 1999 Saturday

It's 1999. Mr. Jones is reading the day's newspaper in the quiet of his apartment in Bridgewater, Somerset, after a light supper. It's an early summer late afternoon on a Saturday, and his wife is in the garden. He is idly browsing the entertainment pages, undecided whether he wants to do some crosswords or not. Something catches his eye: an ad announcing that a documentary about Florence is about to begin in about half an hour on one of the cable channels.

Something on Italy in the Renaissance, by the looks of it, but he and Mrs. Jones have been thinking of taking a week off in Italy for quite some time now. Mr. Jones checks the clock on the wall. Yes, it's 7:18 pm. That's more like 40 minutes then. He passes the news to his wife, reads a little more local news, and when it's just about time he goes to the kitchen to brew some coffee. He carefully measures the coffee. Mr. Jones is 72 and his wife is 69, and they both need to keep it under control when it comes to caffeine in the evening. He sits at the table and waits for the coffee to brew. When it's ready, he pours two cups, puts them on a tray, and brings them to the sitting room. He sits down in his armchair, switches to the right channel, and calls his wife.

The documentary is much better than Mr. Jones thought. Even the coffee is better than he thought. His wife was positively impressed with what they saw and really liked the idea of taking their week off in Florence when he suggested it. A beautiful city, good food, and maybe some tours in the countryside to the gorgeous medieval towns that lie on the hills all around. It's a go, but it's now 9 pm, and Sunday is coming. Mr. Jones will have to go to the travel agency to arrange things on Monday morning, while his wife is at the library where she works as a volunteer since she retired from teaching.


It's 7:30 am on a sunny and warm Monday morning. Mr. Jones calls the travel agency, but he gets an answering machine that does not tell him what time the agency opens. This is annoying. His wife has already left for the library so he kills some time reading, then he's off. It's a couple of kilometers to the center and to the travel agency, and Mr. Jones is a steady but slow walker. It takes some time, but when he gets there he finds out he still has to wait a little. On Mondays they open late, it seems. Luckily, it's not December. He goes to a café on the other side of the street and gets himself a tea. In some 20 minutes, the agency finally opens.

When he finally sits down in front of the middle-aged woman who runs the place, he finds out things can get a little more complicated than expected. The flight is not a problem, but they will land in Pisa, some 80 kilometers from Florence. That means a local train there, and for some reason, it does not seem possible to buy tickets from England today. The lady reassures him that he will have plenty of time to buy the tickets and that trains run on the hour so that shouldn't be an issue. She also suggests some rather expensive hotel close to the center and the railway station, buffet breakfast included, so they will have everything at hand and staff that can speak English.

Mr. Jones settles for that. After all it's been a while since that trip to Spain in 1995 and the money is not so much an issue, but he asks for a little help in organizing one day out of the city. They check a number of catalogs, but the only package the travel agency can sell him is a complete bus tour of the major medieval cities around Florence that takes 4 days. This is too much for them, as they only have a week and that includes Florence itself. They make a couple of phone calls, but nothing useful comes up. Mr. Jones resolves to look for that once they are in Florence. The agency confirms the tickets and their hotel on Wednesday. Mr. Jones walks back there Friday, pays, and brings all the paperwork home.


Their flight lands in Pisa 3 weeks later. It's hot, and they need to find a cab to get to the station to catch the train that will take them to Florence and the hotel. They had started out early to be in London in time for the plane, and they are tired. It's Sunday, and Pisa seems to be rather sleepy. They have the documents and vouchers the agency gave them along with a tiny map of the center of Florence that's not really useful in Pisa. They enter their room almost 4 hours after touching Italian soil, exhausted.


On their second day, they decide to go to the Uffizi, so just after breakfast they ask the hotel staff for directions. It is pretty close, but they get a little lost in one of the narrower medieval streets; they are not that good with maps. They get there, buy their tickets, queue for an hour, and see their Michelangelo. They dine out. They take pictures at Ponte Vecchio. They buy souvenirs. On their fourth day they even manage to find some sort of shady but actually very nice van tour that takes them to San Gimignano and back. When their week is over and they get home, they have a bag full of tickets, maps, brochures, flyers, and whatnot. They also have five full films to be developed—memories to sort out and share with the Cullings next door. That's what they will do for a few evenings.


It's 2011. It's a late September Thursday afternoon in Trenton, New Jersey, and Mrs. Hutchinson is checking her e-mail. She's in her office and just about ready to leave. She's deleting the usual amount of semispam she receives when she reads one "Check our prices for Florence!" message from a travel Web site she uses for some of her bookings. She and her old high school friend Julie have been talking about Tuscany for a while now, so she checks that out. She finds out there seem to be some good last-minute opportunities for flying to Italy on the weekend. Nothing to blow your mind but enough to make the trip a possibility. She carefully checks the offer and sees that it's either that Friday or never again. She calls Julie on her mobile.

They quickly agree that it can be done if they can find some good central hotel to go with it and if the families can manage an extended weekend without them on such short notice. Mrs. Hutchinson has no children, but Julie has a couple of teenagers in the house and her husband has to agree that he can survive a full 5 days alone with them. They get a green light, and in 20 minutes, after a thorough search through hotel reviews, which gets them a five-star close to the Duomo, which seems good and has a discount rate formula for the weekend, Mrs. Hutchinson is booking the flight and hotel on the travel Web site.

They are landing in Pisa, coming from Munich, Germany, around noon. She checks the location with Google Maps. It's a good 50 miles from Florence. And it's where the Leaning Tower is. It might be worth a stop, if only they had the time. She looks for ways to get to Florence, gets a good deal on a rental car, but does not feel too confident she can drive in the crazy Italian traffic so she leaves that and settles for the train. She buys tickets on the Italian Railways Web site and prints them out carefully. She also prints the timetables. She goes back to Google Maps, sets up a couple of panoramic strolls through the city, and prints these as well. She packs them together with custom maps of all the major places they want to visit, including a couple of restaurants and the Gardens of Boboli and instructions on how to reach them. She then buys tickets for the Uffizi online and calls it a day. Home to prepare her bags.


They land in Pisa and arrive in Florence in a couple of hours. They walk to the hotel. They are tired and jet-lagged, but after a couple of hours of sleep and a long shower, they are off for some shopping.

Julie has brought along her digital camera—nothing incredibly professional but enoughforthemtohaveacouplethousandpicturesfromtheirfourdaysinTuscany. They will print some and quickly forget about the others. They have a good time.


Roughly 10 years separate Mr. and Mrs. Jones's trip to Florence from Mrs. Hutchinson's. Many things have changed in between, even though they all traveled from abroad, visited the city, had a nice afternoon at the Gardens of Boboli, saw Michelangelo's paintings at the Uffizi, and enjoyed some of the countryside.

Mr. Jones had to walk to a travel agency on a working day during its open hours; Mrs. Hutchinson did all her booking on an online travel agency open 24/7.

Mr. Jones had no idea of how to move around or where their hotel was and had to spend some time at the airport looking for a city map and guide in English. Mrs. Hutchinson had printouts of all their movements around the city, and she and her friend Julie spent a couple of hours on the plane to develop some strategies to maximize fun and sightseeing and reduce any unnecessary mileage to a minimum.

Mr. Jones had no control at all over which hotel to choose. He did not have any friendly recommendations and no way to verify what he was offered other than the brochures he was given. Mrs. Hutchinson compared a number of hotels, based on their price, distance, and category. She took a good look at pictures of the hotels, their positions, and their rooms. Some of the pictures were posted by people who spent some nights there. She also received plenty of advice on possible problems (such as asking for proper pillows or more towels) and on tried-and-tested solutions (such as do not go to the desk but rather talk to the maid in charge of the floor).

Mr. Jones brought a few pounds of paper back home, a couple of tourist books, and a hundred pictures. Mrs. Hutchinson brought paper to Florence, used it there, kept a few tickets as souvenirs, bought a couple of ugly miniature replicas of the Palazzo Vecchio, and generally relied on the thousands of pictures that Julie snapped with relentless dedication. They brought home a handful of memory cards.

The 11 years in between the two trips have surely brought an incredible degree of personal control over the details of the journey. If we were to travel to Florence or any other place in the world, we know we could easily compare prices by means of sites such as and choose our seats on any plane knowing exactly what the pros and cons are thanks to sites such as seatguru .com. We could see the surroundings of the hotel before booking and read reviews, comments, and tips. We could check for less expensive or more luxurious alternatives without even leaving our chair.

In all, the Internet and the Web have certainly made many activities easier, and this is not limited to traveling, of course: we can shop, make appointments with our doctor, pay our taxes, enroll in higher education courses, and organize events.

But have they managed to make all of these experiences more memorable and meaningful or are they still a simple collection of differently shaped building blocks that we can use in a sequence of our own, adjusting our strategies as we go along? We believe the latter is true. Check out the following two sketches (Figure 1.3): they might not be of the highest scientific standard, but they are accurate renditions of Mr. Jones's and Mrs. Hutchinson's respective user journeys.

The various touch points, or interactions with people, objects, or services across the different channels, actually managed to mostly hinder their user experience. For Mr. and Mrs. Jones, at times it felt like they were bouncing off solid walls that had to be climbed. Granted, there is a good deal of difference between the hoops and the loops they had to suffer through and the smoother journey Mrs. Hutchinson and her friend Julie had. The years in between have carved some holes in the walls and have lowered the obstacles. But still, it's a quantitative difference, not really a qualitative difference.


Excerpted from Pervasive Information Architecture by Andrea Resmini Luca Rosati Copyright © 2011 by Elsevier, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Morgan Kaufmann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1- From Multi-channel to Cross-media

Chapter 2- Towards a Pervasive Information Architecture


Chapter 3- Heuristics for a Pervasive Information Architecture

Chapter 4- Place-making

Chapter 5- Consistency

Chapter 6- Resilience

Chapter 7- Reduction

Chapter 8- Correlation


Chapter 9- Designing Cross-channel User Experiences

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