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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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Experts from many design-related fields — ranging from visual design to content management to usability engineering — acknowledge the value and importance of information architecture. We feature testimonials from just a few experts below that you may wish to cite. With your help, we'll continue adding more.

Bob Boiko, Metatorial, University of Washington iSchool and author, The Content Management Bible
"Information architecture is at the very center of the electronic information storm. Without effective means to structure and present the information we produce we are blown about by the vast quantities and the variable quality of that information. IA provides you a deep keel and a strong rudder to surf above the waves of information that buffet you."

Peter Bogaards, Razorfish and editor, InfoDesign
"Information architecture is the intangible base of any information space which drives the intentional user experience. One can 'feel' such an architecture as the distinctive feature in usable, useful and desirable information spaces. Information architecture starts where randomness stops."

Michael Crandall, Technology Manager, Gates Foundation
"The emergence of Information Architecture (IA) as a formal discipline has gathered key areas of expertise together to provide a framework for the rational design of content-rich sites. IA provides the glue that allows content and services to work in tandem to satisfy user requirements, and the structure necessary to evaluate success in meeting those needs. Without IA, both users and creators of information - intensive applications are likely to suffer from wasted resources, time and effort; even worse, they won't know where to start to make things better the next time."

Joann Hackos, author, Content Management For Dynamic Web Delivery, co-author, User and Task Analysis for Interface

"I've seen so many organizations struggle to find a framework for their managed content, whether for Web delivery, Enterprise Content Management, or Knowledge Management. They tend to fall back on their organizational structure as a method of content organization. Unfortunately, such a structure often fails to improve information accessibility, resulting in the same problems that started their interest in content management in the first place.

Organizations need the perspective provided by a professional information architect, someone who is able to study accessibility among the user communities and find the best way to develop an information model. Information architecture is not for amateurs, no matter how sincere in their efforts."

Sarah Horton, Dartmouth College and co-author, Web Style Guide
"The success of a Web site depends on the soundness of its underlying architecture. The purpose of visual Web design is to reveal structure. Without structure, design is no more than window dressing."

Nico Macdonald, author, What Is Web Design?
"Information architecture is the most distinctive discipline to have evolved to facilitate the creation of networked interactive products. It is able to support and communicate abstract system and problem analysis, while seeing the big picture in product development. This allows it to effectively mediate between client requirements, user desires, engineering constraints, and design solutions. In this way it can also anchor the project 'vision', ensuring that its objectives are served by the final product."

Peter Merholz, Adaptive Path,
"As our lives become increasingly reliant on information, the ability for individuals to successfully find, understand, and shape this ethereal substance becomes necessary for survival and enrichment. Information architecture is committed to supporting these ends, and will emerge as an integral aspect in the future of business, government, education, community life, and society as a whole."

Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Norman Group
"The first law of e-commerce states that if the customer cannot find the product, then the customer also cannot buy the product. The law generalizes to websites and intranets: if users can't find what they are looking for, they will leave; if employees can't find what they need, productivity goes down the drain. Avoid lost sales, lost users, and unproductive employees: get an information architecture that makes sense to other people - not just to yourself."

Ani Phyo, author, Return On Design: Smarter Web Design For Hard Times
"A Web site almost always will be expected to show some concrete return on the investment necessary to build it, by meeting specific business needs of the organization that owns it. By taking the time to balance business needs with the needs of the targeted audience, Information Architecture ensures content and functionality are structured and organized in a way that is easy to find and use, in turn supporting the company's brand experience."

Ginny Redish, co-author, User And Task Analysis For Interface Design, co-author, A Practical Guide to Usability Testing
"For a web site to be successful, users must be able to find what they need and understand what they find in the time and effort that they are willing to spend. 'Findability' is the first key. No matter how wonderful the content, no matter how well-written it is, if people cannot get to what they need easily, the content might as well not be there. Information architects are specialists in 'findability.' A web site is like a large library, and information architects can help you structure that library and develop the pathways through it so that users get quickly to the content that they need."

John Rhodes, editor,
"Glance at a random butterfly and you will see wondrous colors and delicate beauty. But look closely and you might see labial palps, antennae, and submarginal bands. Don't you think it is funny how a butterfly can be so beautiful yet so complex? It isn't an accident. In a similar fashion, good web design isn't an accident. If you want beauty and grace to flow from your web site, hire an information architect. They'll take care of the plumbing and the structure so you can worry about visual design, programming, and the other facets of web site development."

Terry Swack, Office of Terry Swack, National Chair, AIGA Experience Design
"The most common cause of an ineffective web site - one that doesn't deliver value to both the business and its intended constituents - is poor information architecture. The lack of clear organization, navigation and hierarchy means that people will have an unintentional experience, rather than one that will meet the business's relationship objectives for each individual. Information architecture is a fundamental component to the creation of successful digital products and services."

Jeffrey Veen, Adaptive Path and author, The Art And Science Of Web Design
"I've found information architecture serves business as a development process as much as a discipline for structuring content. IA demands a clear understanding of how content can connect customer goals with business objectives. And regardless of medium, that's the definition of success."

Jeffrey Zeldman, Happy Cog Studios, author, Taking Your Talent to the Web
"Good information architecture enables people to find and do what they came for. Great information architecture takes find out of the equation: the site behaves as the visitor expects. Poor or missing information architecture neuters content, design, and programming and devalues the site for its owners as well as the audience it was created to serve. It's like a film with no director. The actors may be good, the sets may be lovely, but audiences will leave soon after the opening credits."

This page was last modified on April 4, 2007 05:41 PM.