Information Architecture: Critical for Intranet Environments
An interview with Lou Rosenfeld (LR), president of Argus Associates
by Rebecca Jones (RJ), co-editor, Intranet Professional
RJ: Lou, you and Peter Morville at Argus Associates have really been instrumental in leading the charge for information architecture (IA). In fact, in his foreword for Information Architecture for the World Wide Web [www.argus-inc.com/features/feature.shtml], Jakob Nielsen describes you as the “Web Marines” for opening up this area. Yet there still seems to be considerable amount of confusion regarding both the term and the concept of IA. Why do you think it’s taking so long for IA to be understood and adopted?
LR: One reason is that an actual information architecture is abstract and intangible. Users don’t notice that they’re interacting with an architecture—unless it’s incredibly bad. Ask them to describe a Web site, and you’ll generally hear about its look and feel, content and functionality. You won’t typically hear about how well-designed the site index is, or how the search engine is missing out on retrieving some really relevant results. Site developers are no different: they concentrate on the fun stuff, like authoring new content, designing a visual identity, programming a new application. It’s simply human nature to fixate on the most obvious aspects of something new, like the Web.
But once users become acquainted with the pain of using a poorly architected site, and they complain to developers who’ve spent ungodly sums of money and time to develop a site that users hate, everyone gets much smarter about information architecture [IA]. Fast. Many speculate that a reasonable architecture would have saved Boo.com.
[Complete article available in print]