Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Distributed IA (Information Architecture)

Within our intranet - owing to lack of resource at present - we delegate the task of structuring sets of intranet pages lower down the hierarchy to our content authors. In some cases, this means the content authors come back to us and request IA help, in others it means they go ahead and architect the sites themselves, with results verging from the reasonably well ordered and user-focused to the slightly chaotic. The first section of our Content Management System user guide takes a couple of pages to carefully introduce the importance of structure, usefulness and usability (without necessarily using those terms), but the impact of this appears to be limited: a few content authors are genuinely interested and "get it", some of the others have just been tasked by a superior to "get on with" creating some intranet content, and therefore do not hold as closely to good practice.

With this in mind, I've been thinking of other ways to communicate the importance of IA to our CMS users without using IA terminology or getting super-complicated. I had a few ideas myself, but was really interested today to read a posting from James Robertson's Column Two on Information Architecture Exercises. James' succinct post also points to a great set of suggestions on Peter Van Dijck's Guide to Ease (with the identical title): I think I may be incorporating some of the suggestions into our core CMS user training...

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