UIEtips: How I Draft an Information Architecture

Jared Spool

September 11th, 2009

I like to cook. I enjoy perusing cookbooks and discovering interesting ingredients that I haven’t use. Following a recipe is really just following a process, a proven way that has worked in the past. The folks at Cooks Illustrated created a formal process for testing out a recipe. They specialize in the “what if” scenario by testing out a recipe using lots of variables and adding or changing different steps in the process. The end result is a very detailed process on what originally seemed like an easy recipe. 

I also like to tinker with recipes, experiment, or even make one up from scratch. Sometimes I find inspiration for a dish at a restaurant, or from a bottle of sauce that I find at Trader Joe’s. This is when I really explore all my options with the ingredients I have on hand. I create my own recipe and cooking process. I test out a bunch of ingredients, and see how the flavors blend together. If it doesn’t work, I make up a new process and recipe next time.

It’s not much different when it comes to creating an information architecture. There are lots of steps, variables and so-called ingredients that goes into an information architecture. You may be looking for a set process to follow, but often times there isn’t one. You just have to make it up as you go. And sometimes it turns out more complicated than you thought.

In today’s UIEtips, our good friend and IA expert, Donna Spencer describes some of the steps she goes through when creating an Information Architecture from scratch. You may want to try her process and experiment with it the next time you need to create an information architecture.

Last year, Donna dazzled everyone at the UI13 conference, so we asked her to come back and do another session at this year’s UI14 conference in November. Learn more about Donna’s workshop, Information Architecture Essentials.

What’s your process when creating an information architecture? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

interesting ingredients that I haven’t used. Following a recipe is
really just following a process, a proven way that has worked in the
past. The folks at Cooks Illustrated created a formal process for
testing out a recipe. They specialize in the “what if” scenario by
testing out a recipe using lots of variables and adding or changing
different steps in the process. The end result is a very detailed
process on what originally seemed like an easy recipe. 
I also like to tinker with recipes, experiment, or even make one up
from scratch. Sometimes I find inspiration for a dish at a
restaurant, or from a bottle of sauce that I find at Trader Joe’s.
This is when I really explore all my options with the ingredients I
have on hand. I create my own recipe and cooking process. I test out
a bunch of ingredients, and see how the flavors blend together. If
it doesn’t work, I make up a new process and recipe next time.
It’s not much different when it comes to creating an information
architecture. There are lots of steps, variables and so-called
ingredients that goes into an information architecture. You may be
looking for a set process to follow, but often times there isn’t
one. You just have to make it up as you go. And sometimes it turns
out more complicated than you thought.
In today’s article, our good friend and IA expert, Donna Spencer
describes some of the steps she goes through when creating an
Information Architecture from scratch. You may want to try her
process and experiment with it the next time you need to create an
information architecture.
Last year, Donna dazzled everyone at the UI13 conference, so we
asked her to come back and do another session at this year’s UI14
conference in November. You can find all of the details on Donna’s
workshop, Information Architecture Essentials, at
http://cli.gs/gytLXW
What’s your process when creating an information architecture? We’d
love to hear your thoughts at the UIE Brain Sparks blog: http://x

One Response to “UIEtips: How I Draft an Information Architecture”

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