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Boxes and Arrows is an online journal dedicated to understanding the design of the architecture and structure of digital spaces, and often features articles on the craft of information architecture.

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Elevator Pitches

Because information architecture involves many skills and is relatively abstract, IA can be difficult to explain to others. Here are some “elevator pitches”—short explanations that summarize what the field is and how it can help you explain IA to others.

  1. Information Architecture is all about relevance. It's about finding the things that matter—the things you and your team need to make connections, make decisions, and make a difference. It's about the right person getting to the right thing at the right time. But it's more than simple efficiency—information architecture transforms facts into insights by organizing content so it fits the way you and your team think. Finding relevant material becomes intuitive. That pays off with people spending more time acting on information, instead of searching for it. The result: less frustration and greater productivity, because people are working with relevant information more often.
  2. You did usability testing and found no one could find anything on your site. You redesigned and lost 30% of your traffic past page one, 60% past page two. You get so many service calls you had to hire three more people and that’s another 100 grand a year. What the hell is going on here?

    When you make a building you make a blueprint, when you make a toaster you first diagram its workings. I think we agree your website is more complex than your toaster. Yet the website is being thrown up in a few weeks and who is making the blueprint? That kid from art school? The engineer who speaks Perl, C++ and Java and yet can’t communicate with the guy in the next cube? You spend thousands of dollars on servers so the website won't crash, but what good are all those servers if no one can find the information they need?

  3. So we just finished this project for [insert company name]. They had a ton of useful information, but their customers couldn't find it. They had thousands of documents and a vast number of web pages. We showed them a better way to organize everything. It wasn't easy and required Information Architecture specialists, but their sales shot up and the customers were a lot happier.
  4. Information Architecture is about structuring information to make it easy to find. When it's easy to find products on your website, people will buy more. When it's easy to find information on your Intranet, employees will save time and have the knowledge they need. Information Architects are specialized in understanding problems that people face when looking for information and designing ways to fix those problems.

Sometimes you must tailor your message to your audience. Below are short phrases that can help particular people understand the benefit of IA.

  • Emphasize value: Information Architecture is what keeps you from paying for a site redesign next year when you've outgrown this design, and keeps your customers from calling with the same questions even though the answers are on your website.
  • IA is not just user interface design: You can have a terrific user interface and still have a failed site [product, application, etc.] if the information contained there hasn’t been structured and managed to meet user expectations.
  • Appeal to information technologists (IT): IA is what happens between the database and the user interface. Before someone can create the data model, you must know how your users want to use the data, or risk creating a system the users won't accept.
  • The simple approach: It's about the right person finding the right information at the right time.

    You can’t use it if you can’t find it.

This page was last modified on April 4, 2007 05:37 PM.