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June 2021
Information Architecture (2015): Constructing Websites with Purpose
Information Architecture (2015): Constructing Websites with Purpose
Rosenfeld, L., Orville, P., & Arango, J. (2015). Information architecture: For the web and beyond (4th edition). O'Reilly.

Information architecture (IA) refers to the structured approach to designing websites (or other information environments) to make the sites more usable. The em>Information Architecture book is well written and easy to read. It includes enough pictorial examples to make the text visible (some of the websites are getting a bit long in the tooth and should be replaced by more current examples). The book is divided into three sections: Introducing IA, Basic Principles of IA, and Getting IA Done,.

The book starts with four chapters that are foundations, related to what IA is and its place in the website world. If you've spent time of the web, then the first three chapters can be skimmed, although Chapter 4: Design for Understanding is worth a bit more time. The second section of the book is comprised of six chapters and really constitutes the meat of the book. Of special interest are chapters 6-8, addressing organizing, labeling, and navigating. On smaller sites, the organizing can be straight forward. For example, a local bookstore's website (Books and Crannies), has four main sections: About, Books, Events, Contact. But on larger sites (see Strand Books), the organization is a major challenge and there's no "correct" way to organize a site, at least algorithmically, but there are better and worse ways to organize a chapter.

Part of organizing is labeling. What do you call the sections, categories, and types in the site - labels that will make sense to users at first glance? For a bookstore, are old books called Rare Books, Antiquarian Book, Old Books, Classic Books, Collectable Books, Used and Rare Books, Fine Books, or Antique Books? It make depend on exactly what's being offered, or it may depend on the client's/designer's preference, or, following a UX approach, it would depend on research that examines who bookstore patrons view that type of book. Labeling is important as it also leads to clarity in navigation. How is a site constructed that facilitates a user finding what they want?

Overall, the book is a nice introduction to information architecture. It's not a deep dive into the main ideas of organizing, labeling, and navigating, but it give a nice direction and basic approaches to site development.
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Peter Doolittle
Blacksburg, VA 24060