Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web Paperback – Oct 16 2002
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From the Back Cover
All web sites have an architecture, whether you design one or not-just as every building has an architecture, from the lowly shanty by the railroad track to Chicago¿s tallest skyscraper. Unfortunately, most web sites are shanties, not skyscrapers. Companies that hastily threw up a web site in the dot-com boom days were visited by building inspector Jakob Neilsen, who told them their site should be condemned. But now we are entering a time of rebuilding, and we¿ve got a chance to get it right.
Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Webintroduces the core concepts of information architecture: organizing web site content so that it can be found, designing web site interaction so that it's pleasant to use, and creating an interface that is easy to understand. This book will help designers, project managers, programmers, and other information architecture practitioners avoid the costly mistakes of the past by teaching the skills of information architecture swiftly and clearly. Use this book and you will pass the usability inspection with flying colors!
About the Author
Christina Wodtke has been an information architect for four years and is a leader in the growing field of information architecture. She founded Boxes and Arrows, an online magazine of information architecture; chaired the fourth annual ASIS&T summit on information architecture; and has spoken on the topic of information architecture at conferences ranging from Seybold to Web World.
Christina is a partner at Carbon IQ, a user-experience agency in San Francisco, where she designs information architectures and conducts user research in the quest to create more usable, effective, and profitable products. Clients have included Shockwave.com, Wells Fargo, Sprite, and Houghton Mifflin, as well as nonprofits such as BraveKids.org and UrbanSchool.org.
Top Customer Reviews
Given that she claims that "yes, it's a short book" (false modesty at 350 pages?) it's surprising to notice the number of digressions - into some pretty lame issues, perspectives and tips:
- How she got the idea of writing a book.
- What the book is not about.
- A 30 page discussion of guidelines she does not support.
- A comprehensive guide to the pros and cons of different ways to draw people, e.g. stick people.
- A note that you need a big notebook or a whiteboard and some markers if you want to do some topic mapping.
- A tip that when receiving guests you might break the ice by asking if it was easy to find the way.
Actually, I learned quite a few things by reading this book, but I call for the editor to wake up and give Wodtke some decent advise if she decides to go for a follow up. Any half decent editor could take a hundred pages out of this book in an hour, ending up with a much better read.
Another thing that seriously degrades the focus is what I see as a shameless attempt to make the book thicker by including non relevant material. On pages describing the organizing of content she manages to use up half a page with a picture of her husband with the caption "Looks cold, doesn't he?".
She could also have spent more time organizing the book's content. With chapters named "Making It All Up, Writing It All Down", "All Together Now" and "Eat Me, Drink Me, Push Me" it is impossible to navigate in, impossible to look for some kind of principle behind the organizing of the content.
The book should have been called "Site Development: IA, Design and Usability for the newcomer".
The reader is directed to carefully plan the Web site, to commit it to paper first and to do a prototype which should then be shown to others for their input as users.
All this is fine. But she seems to thumb her nose at credible usability experts (while not naming them one senses one is Jakob Nielsen) by attempting to prove that the rules don't really matter all that much.
That would be obvious when you visit her personal Web site, ... You'll find locating links a considerable task.
I am sure she's very professional and very good at what she does. But this book did not speak to my desire to better understand usability and information architecture in a manner that I could adapt to my own work immediately. It was more of a survey of IA.
I much prefer the work and exhaustive studies of Jakob Nielson and others who provide workable ideas that have proven themselves over time. The author of this book doesn't seem to hold with their findings. And indeed, one must know the rules and then set about to improve on them. So I have no argument with her here.
My argument is that she puts no stock in the "rules" yet she fails to offer any alternatives. Had she done so, the book would have been a breakthrough read. It was not.
Susanna K. Hutcheson
Owner and Executive Copy Director
This book explains why we need IA and shows us steps and examples of how to do it well.
The first few chapters of the book are about some basic user experience design and usability knowledge. They are useful if you are new to this field.
After that few chapters, the book becomes more and more exciting. The author started to teach us the foundation of many IA techniques including user interviews, card sort exercise, meta data, controlled vocabulary, personas and scenarios, task analysis, web UI design and diagramming.
Personally, I love chapter 9 - "Making It All Up, Writing It All Down" so much. It is about diagramming and documentation. It makes me understand that there are a lot of stuffs I have to prepare before I really build a web site.
The example on re-organizing the Digital Web Magazine in chapter 10 also opens my eyes.
Thank you, Christina!
For the Non-IA, read this book because it "demystifies" IA on many levels. It explains what an Information Architect does, why you might need one, and does a great job of discussing all of the possible deliverables an IA might produce and why. If you're overwhelmed with design "buzzword bingo", this book explains a lot, and in easy-to-understand terms.
For the IA, read this book for the up-to-the-minute tools and techniques. She doesn't dictate a fixed methodology or hard-and-fast rules, instead, she presents a toolbox and guidelines for using them. I found the chapters on Personas and Taxonomies/Controlled Vocabularies especially helpful. She demonstrates that she's been out there working in the real word when she offers advice on overcoming creative blocks, working with people, and how to get your ideas across to (not always supportive) groups of people.
Many IAs will see themselves in this book ("I've created wireframes that look just like that" or "Yes, I've found that too!"), but the real value here might be recommending this book to your favorite Project Manager or Developer so they can gain a little more insight into what you do and go to bat for you on the next collaborative project.
Most recent customer reviews
this volume is an extremely valuable lesson from a true leader in the field. Wodtke provides insight into the thinking behind some of the most-used services on the Internet today.Published on July 4 2004 by theologybuff
This book won't present shocking facts about IA but it puts in writing many things that come in handy when you have to work in this field. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2004 by Luis Escalante
Three first chapters are quite original. But nothing new in the rest of the book. Good ideas. But I won't say that is a basic book or a must read. Read morePublished on Dec 31 2003 by Rafael Lopez Callejon
While most people reading this book do so for Web development, it has absolutely amazing tenets for use in e-learning. Read morePublished on May 5 2003
After having seemingly slagged off every book I read these days, I was delighted to pick up a new book and enjoy it - particularly on a subject as seemingly done-to-death as... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2003
If your headache is how to overcome maintainance problems in any type of web site, then this book will be of tremendous help to you. Read morePublished on Jan. 30 2003 by reviewer
Although best read by practitioners of information architecture (or those who peripherally practice it) this book is like Steve Krug's book in that it's no-nonsense, witty, erudite... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2003 by bruce lawson
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