What is Information Architecture?

Learn the key IA concepts that will help you better organize and manage information across multiple contexts.

Information architecture is to digital products and services as architecture is to buildings: it’s a process for deciding on structures that make meaningful and enduring changes to the human environment.

But information architecture isn’t just for people who have “information architect” in their job description, and it’s not just for a single slice of a design project. Rather, it’s an important dimension of any engagement—from before the project begins until well after it ends.

Covering basic to advanced concepts and practices, this workshop provides a survey of what information architecture is, what it is becoming, and the role it plays in product management and experience design.

Next workshop: TBD

Take this workshop if you want to:

  • Understand the role information architecture (IA) can play in supporting and connecting experience designers, content creators, and technology experts.
  • Learn how IA uses maps and models to understand the problem/solution ecology space and improve communication within and across teams.
  • Identify the key information-architectural concerns around developing and maintaining taxonomies within complex product/service environments.

Who is this for?

Anyone who is responsible for helping to decide what products and services are, how they should be connected (both within and across multiple channels), and/or creating content that has to make sense across various links, places, apps, services, or even devices. Key roles include:

  • Product managers
  • UX designers and managers
  • Communications and marketing team members
  • Developers and analysts

Schedule: Morning

Everyone has a role to play when centering on meaning, aligning priorities, and building digital spaces. The day will begin with a not-about-your-job-titles map of the territory of contemporary digital product/service design, and discussion about where information architecture fits and helps.

Part 1:  Meaning & Ontology (30-minute talk)

Information architects focus on establishing a clear understanding of why and what—before getting to how. In this section, you will learn how to establish what “good” means for your digital places and how to discern and model core business objects in your world through the lens of information architecture.

Process Demonstration: In/Tension modeling with stakeholders and other project

Part 2:  Arrangement & Topology (30-minute talk)

In this part, you’ll learn how the situatedness of things in space affects its meaning. We’ll examine taxonomic structures like navigation bars and product catalogs, and spatial-relationship systems in physical space, like place settings at a dinner table, and Gothic cathedrals.

Activity: As-is modeling of conceptual relationships. In this activity you will learn how to analyze and visualize the groupings and interconnections within an information ecology.

Part 3: Choreography (30-minute talk)

In this part you’ll apply a choreographic lens to what people do in digital places, translating audience profiles/segments into prioritized paths and tasks. We’ll consider how structure fosters specific types of movements and interaction, anticipating the way users and information want to flow and making affordance for change over time.

Activity: As-is object-relational modeling. In this activity you will learn how to use a simple diagramming language to describe the structure of a key interaction within a complex, cross-channel B2C ecosystem.

Schedule: Afternoon

Part 1: Taxonomies 101 (30-minute talk)

An introduction to the concepts, vocabulary, and typical instantiations that make up what people in digital mean when they say “taxonomy.”

Part 2: Taxonomies In A Project / Product Lifecycle (30-minute walkthrough)

A richly illustrated walk-through of the methodology TUG  uses with clients to develop taxonomy requirements, analyze the existing environment around taxonomy, design and test a new taxonomy in light of requirements and research findings, and maintain the taxonomic structures over time.

Part 3: Making User-Centered Taxonomies (60-minute activity)

Developing the system of concepts, labels and links to help an end-user make better sense of and feel welcome in a digital place is hard, but fun. The “main event” of the afternoon session is an activity where participants will build a website navigation taxonomy.

Activity: Development of a website navigation taxonomy for a complex, cross-channel B2C ecosystem, based upon the models the learners created in the morning session.

Part 4: Present & Reflect (30-minute activity)

Participants will show each other their work, and provide peer critiques. If there’s time and interest after the show-and-tell activity, we’ll conclude with an open-format Q&A session.

About the instructor

Dan Klyn is an information architect and co-founder of The Understanding Group (TUG). He’s interested in planning, strategy and architecture for places made of information, and teaches information architecture at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Dan’s research is focused on applying the teachings of Richard Saul Wurman and Christopher Alexander in digital practice. In April 2018, he completed a 2-year term as President of the of the Information Architecture Institute

We customize training to your needs

Want to bring this workshop in-house? We tailor our training in many ways—including group size, time constraints, budget, desired outcomes, team skill level, learning styles, and product stage. Send us a note—we’d love to come up with something that best meets your needs.