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How does one define the term "information architecture"? Knowing enough to ask the question means you are already aware of the dynamics involved. As someone who practices and teaches, I've thought a lot about the answer. The answer? Depends on who is asking the question.
A few of the industry leaders have created definitions that suit their specific platforms. The term reeks of dot com buzzwordiness, and the profession is not standardized. Thus, you can find dozens of lenghty definitions. The one I use is: "Information architecture determines content and functionality, defines organization and navigation, and accommodates evolution while focusing on the user needs." I think it is important to think about that last bit: the user.
The days of "if you build it they will come" are long over for any Internet site or application. People want to be served well, with a minimum of fuss, and they want a positive experience. Any site that begins and ends with the users' needs will be a smashing success. This is the mantra I follow.
As an information architect, my skills combine technology expertise, industry experience, design and communication knowledge and an understanding of the role of the user. I've produced and managed large and small scale projects through a complete developmental lifecycle.
I have conducted primary and seconday user research, and managed both discovery sessions and focus groups. I enjoy talking to users, gathering data, and analysing the results. Gap analyses? Love 'em. Vetting conflicting data from different user groups? No problem. Translating business requirements into a feasible offering? But of course! Picking cautiously through the mine fields of politically charged projects? Bring it on.
Because I am also a teacher and a designer, I understand the importance of clear, compelling communication. I can talk to expert users and novices and the parties involved with the development of the project. I take personal pride in the documents I author, from research documents to project specifications.
Testing is also integral to a successful project. Formal usability testing with a user group yields valuable data and validation. Too often, this part of the process is short-changed. So critical, but so often overlooked, it is possible to do testing on a budget and still get valuable data. My experience runs the gamut from full-scale usability enagements to informal testing with protypes.
The images here illustrate some of the work I've produced. If you would like to see arrange for a review of deliverables, please email me.
©2017 Matthew Fetchko
The site map is a solid foundation for a project's success.
The wireframe presents layout and positioning for all page elements.
The final look and feel is built from the wireframe.