History & Origins of Information Architecture

Information architectures (IAs) refers to the form information is stored or grouped together, the ways used to travel through the information and the arrangement or system’s vocabulary. IAs is the foundation of design of information in shared settings and methods of naming and arranging online communities, software, intranets and websites to make them easier to use and access. If IAs are done accordingly, allows users to maneuver easily through the system in order to fetch the information they desire.

Richard Saul Wurman is the first person to introduce the phrase “information architecture” to wide attention. Not only he is trained as an architect, he is also a skilled graphic designer and the author, editor, and/or publisher of many books show fine graphics in the presentation of information. His vision of information architecture is the collecting, organizing, and presenting information to serve a purpose, or set of purpose, as an architectural task. In 1976, he was the chair of the national conference of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the main theme was chosen as “The Architecture of Information”. He defined an “information architect” as:

“1) the individual who organizes the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear. 2) a person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge. 3) the emerging 21st century professional occupation addressing the needs of the age focused upon clarity, human understanding, and the science of the organization of information.”

Since the launch of World-Wide Web, two librarians, Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville gave inspirational aspects of information architecture with an emphasis on applying to websites. They concern the arrangement of information in the entire website, how the pages within the site connect to each other, and with how the viewer is quickly understand and effortlessly allowed and/or guided to navigate his or her way around the site. Here is some valuable advice by Rosenfeld and Morville:

“Well-planned information architectures greatly benefit both consumers and producers. Accessing a site for the first time, consumers can quickly understand it effortlessly. They can quickly find the information they need, thereby reducing the time (and costs) wasted on both finding information and not finding information. Producers of web sites and intranets benefit because they know where and how to place new content without disrupting the existing content and site structure. Perhaps most importantly, producers can use an information architecture to greatly minimize the politics that come to the fore during the development of a web site.”

They also stated that websites should be created for both kinds of users: 1) someone who knows what they are searching for and 2) someone who is casually exploring the site casually with no purpose. If we care about the consumer, we have to ensure the information architecture supports both kinds of user. Although the striking graphics and dependable wish list tools are vital to user satisfaction, they are not enough. Poor information architecture will frustrate, confuse and angry the users. They simply will leave the website as a result. Developing a website as quickly and painlessly as possible to explore by well-planned information architecture is paramount.

The future of information architecture continues to play an important role in the digital future. Big data, machine learning, AI and other new technologies need efficient IAs to gather, organize, process large and/or complex data.