Information Architecture?

History and Origin and Where It Could Be Headed

According to Wikipedia, Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Richard Saul Wurman once wrote, in his book, information architecture“I mean architect as used in the words architect of foreign policy. I mean architect as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work — the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear.”

The above quote put emphasis on the importance of ontology, taxonomy and choreography. The word IA is now connected to web design, wire framing, labels, tags, arrangement of parts. Richard Saul Wurman is an american architect and graphic designer who founded TED conference, EG conference, TEDMED, and the WWW suite gatherings. Wurman is praised for coining the word Information Architecture in 1970.

Before Wurman combined the information and architecture , there was IBM definition and application of architecture. In 1964 IBM research paper defines architecture as “The conceptual structure and functional behavior, distinguishing the organization of data flows and controls, logical design, and physical implementation”.

The above article mentions how computer architecture was first defined. IBM introduction of IBM system 360 computer family was the most important product announcement in corporate history. There were 3 interfaces connected to the IBM 360 system which were architecture, implementation and realization. Without these interfaces the system will not function correctly.

In 1970, Xerox Corporation brought together a group of top scientists whose specialty is information and natural sciences and gave them the assignment of creating information architecture and technology to support information architecture. The group of scientists are responsible for many contributions such as the first personal computer with a friendly interface, laser printer, text editor and ethernet to name a few.

In 1998, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville was published and it was named technology book for the year by amazon during that period. It is said to have been intended for technology audience to present framework for design and organization.

Dan Klyn, in 2000s, explains information technology in his own terms by combining Rosenfeld & Morville with Wurman and breaking it down to 3 terms . Ontology which discovers, defines, and articulates rules and patterns. Taxonomy develops system and structure for what everything is called and where everything is sorted and relationship between labels and categories. Choreography creates structure to foster movements and reaction and anticipates user and information flow.

As time progresses heuristics of information architecture will be more important than ever. User must be conveniently go to a website from any device platform without change in user and information flow. User must be able to connect, personalize, be inspired, be productive, and delighted using any interface. A great example is Amazon echo or Dot; It can do anything from switching off lights, to adjusting room temperature to playing music and ordering a cab plus it is a simply beautiful design.