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Falling in and out
and in love with
Information Architecture
Lou Rosenfeld •  May 4, 2018
what I’ll cover
What information architecture is
Why we fall in love with it
Why we fall out of love with it
And why we fa...
1
What is 

information architecture?
A definition



“The craft of structuring, organizing, and
labeling information to make it easier
to find and understand.”
Questions to answer



What are the common information needs?
What are common information-seeking behaviors?
What content ...
Information architecture 

ingredients
(obligatoryVenn diagram)
From http://www.louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/000024.html
Information architecture components
• Labeling systems: metadata, controlled vocabularies, thesauri
• Organization systems...
Finding +
understanding
=
iterative searching /
browsing / learning
Information architecture 

is always present
From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chess#mediaviewer/File:Opening_chess_position_from_black_side.jpg
From https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Postcard-for-correspondence-chess_%28trimmed_image%29.png
Information architecture 

is invisible 



Information architecture 

is invisible 



…until it’s not
From https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?178
From https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?178
today
today
today
search
navigation,
labeling, organization
today
today
content model
metadata
metadata
content object
content object
content objectcontent object
content object
Information architecture 

helps makers 

as well as users
From https://biblioklept.org/2013/05/15/joseph-hellers-handwritten-outline-for-catch-22/
From “Information Architecture in Real Life” Are Halland: 

https://www.slideshare.net/aregh/information-architecture-in-r...
Information architecture

is a lens on culture
Information architecture

can be dangerous
2
Falling in love with
information architecture
It’s natural to 

organize stuff…
the Bower Bird
Ptilonorhynchidae
From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/
the Bower Bird
Ptilonorhynchidae
From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/
the Bower Bird
Ptilonorhynchidae
From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/
the Bower Bird
Ptilonorhynchidae
the Information Architect
Homo sapiens inconfusus
the Information Architect
Homo sapiens inconfusus
the Information Architect
Homo sapiens inconfusus
…and fun too
The gravity of the gaps
The gravity of the gaps
It’s necessary 

to organize stuff
Read about my experience consulting for the US Department of Veterans Affairs: http://l...
It’s necessary 

to organize stuff
…and ethical too
Read about my experience consulting for the US Department of Veterans ...
3
Falling out of love with
information architecture
Mgmt.
incentives
for teams
"Org chart"
site map
Topical
guides
Site-wide
site index
Content
inventory
Content
analysis
Ubi...
Big IA challenges require
changing culture more than sites
Big IA challenges require
changing culture more than sites
and… big evidence
Reports from the user research group
Query data from the search team
XXX.XXX.X.104 - - [10/Jul/2013:10:25:46 -0800] "GET /search?
access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_n...
Logs from the call center
Reports from analytics applications
“Learnings” fromVoice of the Customer research
Reports from CRM applications
Surveys behind Net Promoter Score
Studies from the research center
Analysis of
social media
Brand architecture research
No shortage of evidence
But how do we make sense of it?
What
Why
Methods employed:
quantitative versus qualitative
Goals: help org or users
Organizational goals
Users’ goals
How they use data: measuring
world we know versus world
we don’t
Measuring the world we know


Exploring the world we don’t
Descriptive data
Statistical data
The blind men and the
elephant
The insight gap
The operations gap
WeWork’s Polaris
1. Siloed research
2. Gaps in research memory
3. Reports instead of insight
WeWork: "nuggetization" +
metadata
WeWork: "nuggetization" +
metadata
content objects
metadata
WeWork: "nuggetization" +
metadata
WeWork: "nuggetization" +
metadata
WeWork: filter/search this stuff
content objects
metadata
WeWork: an insight
content objects
metadata
4
Falling back in love with
information architecture
Opportunity
Information architecture 

for enabling operations
metadata
metadata
metadata!!!!
from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/
DevOps => DecisionOps
DevOps
from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/
DevOps => DecisionOps
DevOps DesignOps
from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/
DevOps => DecisionOps
DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps
from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/
DevOps => DecisionOps
DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps InsightOps
from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/
DevOps => DecisionOps
DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps InsightOps
Op...
Opportunity
Information architecture 

enables Artificial Intelligence
“AI requires machine learning, machine learning
requires analytics, and analytics requires the
right data and information ...
From presentation “AI and ML Demystified”; Carol Smith at Midwest UX 2017: 

https://www.slideshare.net/carologic/ai-and-ma...
From presentation “AI and ML Demystified”; Carol Smith at Midwest UX 2017: 

https://www.slideshare.net/carologic/ai-and-ma...
Opportunity
Information architecture 

improves everyday experiences
Reconsidering the IA of books…
FREQUENTLY
ASKED QUESTIONS
What do you mean by “content everywhere”?
The way I talk about i...
Reconsidering the IA of books…
FREQUENTLY
ASKED QUESTIONS
What do you mean by “content everywhere”?
The way I talk about i...
Story arc from Donna Lichaw’s
The User’s Journey
(Rosenfeld Media, 2016)
…and conferences
PARTY!
PARTY!
PARTY!
delayed Climax!
Now is
the time!
• Tribal information architecture is over
• Moving beyond website information
architecture
• More gaps th...
if we have time
a thought about

Venn diagrams
From https://uxdesign.cc/ux-venn-diagrams-82e11e35570e
From http://peoplevendor.com/ux-design-services/
From http://jemrosario.com/portfolio-item/camh-content-strategy/
From https://www.pinterest.co.uk/source/ux.stackexchange.com/
From https://ia.net/topics/the-spectrum-of-user-experience-1
It’s all about the intersection
It’s all about the intersection
convergence
It’s all about the intersection
It’s your journey; surrender to it
convergence
Thanks!
slides 

https://rfld.me/2JQeGgH
Lou Rosenfeld
@louisrosenfeld
lou@rosenfeldmedia.com
www.rosenfeldmedia.com • @ros...
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture
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Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture

  1. 1. Falling in and out and in love with Information Architecture Lou Rosenfeld •  May 4, 2018
  2. 2. what I’ll cover What information architecture is Why we fall in love with it Why we fall out of love with it And why we fall back in love with it
  3. 3. 1 What is 
 information architecture?
  4. 4. A definition
 
 “The craft of structuring, organizing, and labeling information to make it easier to find and understand.”
  5. 5. Questions to answer
 
 What are the common information needs? What are common information-seeking behaviors? What content goes where? What content goes together?
 What content is most important?
  6. 6. Information architecture 
 ingredients
  7. 7. (obligatoryVenn diagram)
  8. 8. From http://www.louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/000024.html
  9. 9. Information architecture components • Labeling systems: metadata, controlled vocabularies, thesauri • Organization systems: taxonomies, content models, ontologies • Navigation systems: top-down/site-wide, contextual • Search systems: interface design, indexing, results design
  10. 10. Finding + understanding = iterative searching / browsing / learning
  11. 11. Information architecture 
 is always present
  12. 12. From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chess#mediaviewer/File:Opening_chess_position_from_black_side.jpg
  13. 13. From https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/Postcard-for-correspondence-chess_%28trimmed_image%29.png
  14. 14. Information architecture 
 is invisible 
 

  15. 15. Information architecture 
 is invisible 
 
 …until it’s not
  16. 16. From https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?178
  17. 17. From https://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?178
  18. 18. today
  19. 19. today
  20. 20. today search navigation, labeling, organization
  21. 21. today
  22. 22. today content model metadata metadata content object content object content objectcontent object content object
  23. 23. Information architecture 
 helps makers 
 as well as users
  24. 24. From https://biblioklept.org/2013/05/15/joseph-hellers-handwritten-outline-for-catch-22/
  25. 25. From “Information Architecture in Real Life” Are Halland: 
 https://www.slideshare.net/aregh/information-architecture-in-real-life-part-i From “Information Architecture for the WWW” 2nd ed.
  26. 26. Information architecture
 is a lens on culture
  27. 27. Information architecture
 can be dangerous
  28. 28. 2 Falling in love with information architecture
  29. 29. It’s natural to 
 organize stuff… the Bower Bird Ptilonorhynchidae
  30. 30. From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/ the Bower Bird Ptilonorhynchidae
  31. 31. From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/ the Bower Bird Ptilonorhynchidae
  32. 32. From http://www.viralforest.com/bower-bird/ the Bower Bird Ptilonorhynchidae
  33. 33. the Information Architect Homo sapiens inconfusus
  34. 34. the Information Architect Homo sapiens inconfusus
  35. 35. the Information Architect Homo sapiens inconfusus …and fun too
  36. 36. The gravity of the gaps
  37. 37. The gravity of the gaps
  38. 38. It’s necessary 
 to organize stuff Read about my experience consulting for the US Department of Veterans Affairs: http://louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/2009/07/shame_and_disgust.html
  39. 39. It’s necessary 
 to organize stuff …and ethical too Read about my experience consulting for the US Department of Veterans Affairs: http://louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/2009/07/shame_and_disgust.html
  40. 40. 3 Falling out of love with information architecture
  41. 41. Mgmt. incentives for teams "Org chart" site map Topical guides Site-wide site index Content inventory Content analysis Ubiquitous simple search IF Index all enterprise content K-logs for key people Wikis for key teams Top-Down Navigation Bottom-Up Navigation Search "Guerrilla" Information Architecture "Shallow" topical hierarchy Topical site map Topical subsites Product hierarchy Business function hierarchy "Deep" topical hierarchy Specialized content index Select content models Identify content objects Metadata for objects Linking rules for objects Connect content models Spell- checking Stemming Develop "Best Bets" Clustered by existing metadata Remove duplicate results Clustered from auto- classification Consistent document titling Clustered by topical metadata Clustered by fielded criteria Document auto- classification Document auto- categorization Consistent semantic metadata Cross-walking/ switching vocabs. Meta- or enterprise thesaurus Link staff directory to k-logs Link staff directory to wikis Broaden k-log coverage Broaden wiki coverage K-log aggregation (RSS) HR incentives for KM K-logs made searchable Wikis made searchable Site hierarchy Site map "Org chart" hierarchy Site index Selective navigation Content modeling Metadata development Search queries Search results Content from teams, communities Content from experts Launch content models Synonyms from thesauri Enterprise Information Architecture Roadmap Louis Rosenfeld http://www.louisrosenfeld.com Version 3.0; February, 2006 Your mileage will vary. Many enterprises have failed to integrate content from across departmental "silos" in ways that make sense to users. This Roadmap breaks down information architecture design into four major tracks, and plots concrete steps within each track over time with the goal of making information easier to find across silos. Use the Roadmap as a straw man to inform and shape your own enterprise IA strategy. Want more? • Definitions, explanation, and discussion: http://louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/000359.html • Enterprise Information Architecture seminar with Lou Rosenfeld: http://louisrosenfeld.com/eia/ Consistent structural metadata Use connective tools (a la Technorati) K-logs linked from taxonomy Wikis linked from taxonomy Enable user keyword tagging Metadata gap analysis Delete site index Faceted navigation Politicized main page User- centered main page Main page Enterprise -centered main page "Revise search" interface Search interface Consistent specialized search IFs Consistent simple search IF design Metadata attribute inventory Metadata tagging Acquire external CVs Metadata value inventory Enable author keyword tagging Manual tagging of key areas Tuning of automatic tagging Concept- searching Very Soon Near Term Long Term Way Off © 2006 Louis Rosenfeld LLC. All right reserved. Site-wide index from common queries Faceted metadata
  42. 42. Big IA challenges require changing culture more than sites
  43. 43. Big IA challenges require changing culture more than sites and… big evidence
  44. 44. Reports from the user research group
  45. 45. Query data from the search team XXX.XXX.X.104 - - [10/Jul/2013:10:25:46 -0800] "GET /search? access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&ud=1 &site=AllSites&ie=UTF-8&client=www&oe=UTF-8&proxystylesheet=ww w&q=lincense+plate&ip=XXX.XXX.X.104 HTTP/1.1" 200 971 0 0.02 XXX.XXX.X.104 - - [10/Jul/2013:10:25:48 -0800] "GET /search? access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&ie=U TF-8&client=www&q=license+plate
 &ud=1&site=AllSites&spell=1&oe=UTF-8&proxystylesheet=www&ip=XX X.XXX.X.104 HTTP/1.1" 200 8283 146 0.16 XXX.XXX.XX.130 - - [10/Jul/2013:10:24:38 -0800] "GET /search? access=p&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&ud=1 &site=AllSites&ie=UTF-8&client=www&oe=UTF-8&proxystylesheet=ww
  46. 46. Logs from the call center
  47. 47. Reports from analytics applications
  48. 48. “Learnings” fromVoice of the Customer research
  49. 49. Reports from CRM applications
  50. 50. Surveys behind Net Promoter Score
  51. 51. Studies from the research center
  52. 52. Analysis of social media
  53. 53. Brand architecture research
  54. 54. No shortage of evidence But how do we make sense of it?
  55. 55. What Why
  56. 56. Methods employed: quantitative versus qualitative
  57. 57. Goals: help org or users Organizational goals Users’ goals
  58. 58. How they use data: measuring world we know versus world we don’t Measuring the world we know 
 Exploring the world we don’t
  59. 59. Descriptive data Statistical data
  60. 60. The blind men and the elephant The insight gap
  61. 61. The operations gap
  62. 62. WeWork’s Polaris 1. Siloed research 2. Gaps in research memory 3. Reports instead of insight
  63. 63. WeWork: "nuggetization" + metadata
  64. 64. WeWork: "nuggetization" + metadata content objects metadata
  65. 65. WeWork: "nuggetization" + metadata
  66. 66. WeWork: "nuggetization" + metadata
  67. 67. WeWork: filter/search this stuff content objects metadata
  68. 68. WeWork: an insight content objects metadata
  69. 69. 4 Falling back in love with information architecture
  70. 70. Opportunity Information architecture 
 for enabling operations
  71. 71. metadata
  72. 72. metadata
  73. 73. metadata!!!!
  74. 74. from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/ DevOps => DecisionOps DevOps
  75. 75. from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/ DevOps => DecisionOps DevOps DesignOps
  76. 76. from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/ DevOps => DecisionOps DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps
  77. 77. from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/ DevOps => DecisionOps DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps InsightOps
  78. 78. from DevOps: https://devops.com/2014/04/07/evolve-devops/ DevOps => DecisionOps DevOps DesignOps ResearchOps InsightOps Operations is nascent… and requires IA CreativeOps, Social Media Ops, DataOps…
  79. 79. Opportunity Information architecture 
 enables Artificial Intelligence
  80. 80. “AI requires machine learning, machine learning requires analytics, and analytics requires the right data and information architecture (IA). In other words, there is no AI without IA.”
 
 — RobThomas, general manager at IBM Analytics. From VentureBeat, January 2018 https://venturebeat.com/2018/01/12/the-road-to-ai-leads-through-information-architecture/
  81. 81. From presentation “AI and ML Demystified”; Carol Smith at Midwest UX 2017: 
 https://www.slideshare.net/carologic/ai-and-machine-learning-demystified-by-carol-smith-at-midwest-ux-2017/16-AI_and_ML_Demystified_carologic
  82. 82. From presentation “AI and ML Demystified”; Carol Smith at Midwest UX 2017: 
 https://www.slideshare.net/carologic/ai-and-machine-learning-demystified-by-carol-smith-at-midwest-ux-2017/16-AI_and_ML_Demystified_carologic Information architect as teacher of algorithms
  83. 83. Opportunity Information architecture 
 improves everyday experiences
  84. 84. Reconsidering the IA of books… FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What do you mean by “content everywhere”? The way I talk about it, “content everywhere” doesn’t mean splattering your message in every corner of the Web. It’s about investing in content that’s flexible enough to go wherever you need it: multiple websites, apps, chan- nels, and other experiences. Why? Because devices of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities are flooding the market, and users expect to get your content on all of them, which you can read about in Chapter 1. Right now, most organizations can barely keep up with their large, unwieldy desktop websites, much less multiple different sets of content for all these different experiences. Content everywhere is all about learning how to pre- pare one set of content to go wherever it’s needed—now and in the future. What do you mean by structured content, and why is it so important? Today, most digital content is unstructured: just words poured onto a page. To signify where one part ends and another begins, writers use formatting, like upping a font size to be a headline or putting an author’s name in italics. This works fine if your content is only going to be used on a single page and viewed on a desktop monitor, but that’s about it. Structured content, on the other hand, is created in smaller modules, which can be stored and used in lots more ways. For example, you could display a headline and a copy teaser in one place, and have a user click to read the rest—something you can’t do if the story is all one blob. You can give the same content different presentation rules when it’s displayed on mobile, such as resizing headlines or changing which content is prioritized or emphasized—automatically. In this way, adding structure actually makes content more flexible, because it allows you to do more with it. You can learn about this in Chapter 5. But don’t I need different, simpler content for mobile? Inserted an FAQ before the TOC for additional context, navigation, and orientation
  85. 85. Reconsidering the IA of books… FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What do you mean by “content everywhere”? The way I talk about it, “content everywhere” doesn’t mean splattering your message in every corner of the Web. It’s about investing in content that’s flexible enough to go wherever you need it: multiple websites, apps, chan- nels, and other experiences. Why? Because devices of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities are flooding the market, and users expect to get your content on all of them, which you can read about in Chapter 1. Right now, most organizations can barely keep up with their large, unwieldy desktop websites, much less multiple different sets of content for all these different experiences. Content everywhere is all about learning how to pre- pare one set of content to go wherever it’s needed—now and in the future. What do you mean by structured content, and why is it so important? Today, most digital content is unstructured: just words poured onto a page. To signify where one part ends and another begins, writers use formatting, like upping a font size to be a headline or putting an author’s name in italics. This works fine if your content is only going to be used on a single page and viewed on a desktop monitor, but that’s about it. Structured content, on the other hand, is created in smaller modules, which can be stored and used in lots more ways. For example, you could display a headline and a copy teaser in one place, and have a user click to read the rest—something you can’t do if the story is all one blob. You can give the same content different presentation rules when it’s displayed on mobile, such as resizing headlines or changing which content is prioritized or emphasized—automatically. In this way, adding structure actually makes content more flexible, because it allows you to do more with it. You can learn about this in Chapter 5. But don’t I need different, simpler content for mobile? Inserted an FAQ before the TOC for additional context, navigation, and orientation Navigation
  86. 86. Story arc from Donna Lichaw’s The User’s Journey (Rosenfeld Media, 2016) …and conferences
  87. 87. PARTY!
  88. 88. PARTY!
  89. 89. PARTY! delayed Climax!
  90. 90. Now is the time! • Tribal information architecture is over • Moving beyond website information architecture • More gaps than ever before • The ethics of finding and using information more important than ever
  91. 91. if we have time a thought about
 Venn diagrams
  92. 92. From https://uxdesign.cc/ux-venn-diagrams-82e11e35570e
  93. 93. From http://peoplevendor.com/ux-design-services/
  94. 94. From http://jemrosario.com/portfolio-item/camh-content-strategy/
  95. 95. From https://www.pinterest.co.uk/source/ux.stackexchange.com/
  96. 96. From https://ia.net/topics/the-spectrum-of-user-experience-1
  97. 97. It’s all about the intersection
  98. 98. It’s all about the intersection convergence
  99. 99. It’s all about the intersection It’s your journey; surrender to it convergence
  100. 100. Thanks! slides 
 https://rfld.me/2JQeGgH Lou Rosenfeld @louisrosenfeld lou@rosenfeldmedia.com www.rosenfeldmedia.com • @rosenfeldmedia

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