Brief History of Informational Architecture

Information Architecture (IA) throughout time was being developed by different companies and people, it was not known as IA at the time. In fact, they were approaches that have characterized the research and practice of IA. Going in depth on these subjects would result in large scale of information, but my intention is to provide a simple timeline of my findings.

IBM Research Paper titled “Architecture of the IBM System/360,” 1964. Architecture was defined as the conceptual structure and functional behavior, distinguishing the organization of data flows and controls, logical design, and physical implementation.

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) assembled a group of people specialized in information science 1970 (given the charter to develop technology which could support the “architecture of information”).

Information Design was unintentionally contributed by Richard Saul Wurman. At the American Institute of Architecture conference of 1976, he used the term information together with the term architecture. He believed that design and architecture are the basis for a science and art of creating “instructions for organized space” and for making these understandable. He later published a book, Information Architect 1997, focusing on the importance of understanding.

Richard Saul Wurman

Information Systems was a research method developed in the 1980’s, connected to the logic we identify today as information systems and business informatics.

Information Science is best represented by Rosenfeld and Morville. In 1994 they were the first to teach about the internet. They used the architecture metaphor to highlight the importance of structure and organization in website design. At the time, the book Information Architect (1997) appeared in their offices, they learned that Wurman was the first to mention Information Architect. After reading his book they concluded that this wasn’t information architecture, Wurman’s work represented information design.

Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville

They remarked that the key difference in views are, IA was the design between the pages of a web site such as the links and structure. As for Wurman’s view, it reflects to be the design of the pages themselves. A year later after Information Architect was released, Rosenfeld and Morville published a book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web 1998, and IA then became mainstream.

Today IA is very important, but it has been integrated as one of many fundamental practices for UX Designers (User Experience). As people move forward with time, jobs we once knew gets replaced with something better.

Some responsibilities before an IA is made for a UX Designer are researching, creating a persona, empathy map, storyboard in order to deliver a case study. From there a feature matrix is developed accompanied with a competitor analysis diagram, these are necessary step by step key items in order to build a successful IA.

IA wasn’t a system that was always there, it was something that was developed in time. It was first an idea, a practice, and now an established skill set created by innovative people. Now its a must have practice for UX Designers, in order to solve complicated informational problems. With the rise of newer technology, these jobs are only getting more high on demand.

Works Cited

Resmini, Andrea, and Luca Rosati. “A Brief History of Information Architecture.” Journal of Information Architecture. N.p., n.d. Web.