Information ArchitectureExplainedMarch 6, 2013Austin STC Chapter                             Leigh White                  ...
What is information architecture? • Not a fully-formed profession yet • Ask 10 IAs what they do, get 10 different answers ...
A definition From the Information Architecture Institute: • Information architecture (IA) is the art and science of   orga...
What does an IA do? Adapted from Interaction Design Foundation   http://www.interaction-design.org • Content inventory/ana...
What does an IA do? • Controlled vocabulary        – Developing a collection of preferred and/or authorized terms, includi...
What does an IA do? • Site/content maps               • Constructing detailed guides to the content, its metadata and     ...
So you wanna be an IA? • Most IAs come from backgrounds like:        –   Graphics and information design        –   Human-...
Me, me, me •    BA in English •    Began as a graphic layout artist 1992 •    MA in Theoretical Linguistics •    Began as ...
How did I move into IA? • It just evolved…        – Found myself swamped by too many products, too many          output fo...
How did I move into IA? • DITA…        – After using custom XML and structured Frame for several          years, we realiz...
How did I move into IA? • And now…        – IA responsibilities supplanted authoring responsibilities        – Never “done...
More formally…what do I do? • Guide the team in establishing efficient and effective processes   for the creation, product...
Ongoing responsibilities • Keep current with industry trends and recommends strategic direction • Create and maintain all ...
Tool and technology requirements • Extensive experience with structured authoring tools and DITA for the   development and...
Tools and technologies •    FrameMaker       •   XMetaL    • ANT •    MS Word          •   DITA-OT   • Java •    RoboHelp ...
“Soft” skill requirements •       Strong leadership and mentoring skills. •       Strong project management skills. •     ...
General skill sets •    Strategic – develop the plan (Information Architect) •    Tactical – execute the plan (Information...
Strategy vs. tactics • A content strategy should be developed without   consideration to specific tools or technologies, a...
Strategy vs. tactics • Many times, strategy and implementation are the same   person’s responsibility (like me) • But ofte...
IA is not DITA! DITA is not IA! • IA/structured authoring/content management have   become somewhat synonymous with DITA •...
People skills – Change management • Content isn’t created in a vacuum—people write it and   they feel strongly about it • ...
Contact me                                              Leigh White                                      ElementalSource, ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Information Architecture Explained

394 views

Published on

presentation to the Austin chapter of the STC, Match 6, 2013

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
394
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Information Architecture Explained

  1. 1. Information ArchitectureExplainedMarch 6, 2013Austin STC Chapter Leigh White ElementalSource, LLC
  2. 2. What is information architecture? • Not a fully-formed profession yet • Ask 10 IAs what they do, get 10 different answers • We’re at an exciting place…creating ourselves!ElementalSource, LLC
  3. 3. A definition From the Information Architecture Institute: • Information architecture (IA) is the art and science of organizing and labeling data including: websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other mediums of information, to support usability. It is an emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing together principles of design and architecture. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information which is used and applied to activities that require explicit details of complex information systems.ElementalSource, LLC
  4. 4. What does an IA do? Adapted from Interaction Design Foundation http://www.interaction-design.org • Content inventory/analysis – Performing initial analysis of existing content to identify overlap, redundancy, gaps, differences in style, presentation, degree of detail, etc. • Content hierarchy – Discovering and formalizing relationships between content, not necessarily vertical. • Content modeling – Developing principles for grouping content, e.g. by inherent relationships such as by product, process, audience, etc. Also develop ways of structuring data, including metadata, associatively.ElementalSource, LLC
  5. 5. What does an IA do? • Controlled vocabulary – Developing a collection of preferred and/or authorized terms, including synonyms. Used in metadata schema, taxonomies, content labeling, and tagging, and well as search engine optimization (SEO). • Taxonomy – Developing a hierarchical index that define content relationships for the purpose of classification. Usually based on a controlled vocabulary, and can relate to fixed site navigation schemes. • Metadata schema – Developing or implementing descriptive element/value pairs used to describe, tag, and sometimes classify, information in various forms and formats.ElementalSource, LLC
  6. 6. What does an IA do? • Site/content maps • Constructing detailed guides to the content, its metadata and relationships, to serve as a blueprint for future content creation and integration.ElementalSource, LLC
  7. 7. So you wanna be an IA? • Most IAs come from backgrounds like: – Graphics and information design – Human-computer interaction (HCI) design – Library science – Technical writing – Usability engineering – Computer science • The “accidental” IAElementalSource, LLC
  8. 8. Me, me, me • BA in English • Began as a graphic layout artist 1992 • MA in Theoretical Linguistics • Began as a tech writer 1996 • Started working with XML/structured authoring ~2002 • Started working with DITA ~2008 • Moved into IA full-time 2011ElementalSource, LLC
  9. 9. How did I move into IA? • It just evolved… – Found myself swamped by too many products, too many output formats, too much duplicate content, too-short release cycles – Started reading about XML and structured authoring and realized it was the only solution for my team – Developed custom XML and prototyped with structured FrameMaker – Demonstrated value and benefits to team and sold it to my managerElementalSource, LLC
  10. 10. How did I move into IA? • DITA… – After using custom XML and structured Frame for several years, we realized we couldn’t take it to the next level: automated publishing – Started coming up to speed on DITA (publicly available by then) – Developed another prototype and sold it to my manager • Had to develop all stylesheets for publishing to PDF, HTML to prove we could output our corporate brand correctly • Had to develop storage system, metadata, naming conventions, etc.ElementalSource, LLC
  11. 11. How did I move into IA? • And now… – IA responsibilities supplanted authoring responsibilities – Never “done” because we’re always adding new writers, new products, having to interface with other groups in company – Content model continues to evolveElementalSource, LLC
  12. 12. More formally…what do I do? • Guide the team in establishing efficient and effective processes for the creation, production, maintenance and dynamic assembly of documents by establishing guidelines and procedures. • Evaluate evolving architecture needs of the team and recommends potential solutions, including new software, additional team training, and development of custom applications. – Serve as a liaison between the team and other departments within the company to facilitate understanding of documentation processes and capabilities. – Work with internal/external customers to understand their business models and goals and help define strategy.ElementalSource, LLC
  13. 13. Ongoing responsibilities • Keep current with industry trends and recommends strategic direction • Create and maintain all templates, EDDs, DTDs, structured applications, and schemas • Regularly re-evaluate the repository structure and content for opportunities for improvement • Balance the needs and functions of the repository against the needs of individual writers and projects • Develop and/or approve high level and detailed documentation project design • Research, identify, and analyze issues and derives applicable solutions • Create and maintain appropriate training materials for architecture and structure • Create and present classes or instructional materials as necessary for the continued education of the team and on the concept and practice of single sourcing and use of the repositoryElementalSource, LLC
  14. 14. Tool and technology requirements • Extensive experience with structured authoring tools and DITA for the development and maintenance of all necessary templates, and EDDs. • Thorough understanding of content-management systems and DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) • Basic understanding of the concepts of programming/scripting languages (e.g. C, Java, Javascript) • Thorough understanding of scripting and building output using ANT. • Thorough understanding of markup languages (HTML, CSS, SGML, XML, XSLT, XSL-FO). • Thorough understanding of information design principles. • Experience with software documentation creation, maintenance, and publication processes. • Familiar with leading-edge technical writing technologies and concepts.ElementalSource, LLC
  15. 15. Tools and technologies • FrameMaker • XMetaL • ANT • MS Word • DITA-OT • Java • RoboHelp • CMS • Javascript • ePublisher • XHTML • Flare • XML • MS Access • XSLT • MSExcel • XSL-FO • oXygen • CSSElementalSource, LLC
  16. 16. “Soft” skill requirements • Strong leadership and mentoring skills. • Strong project management skills. • Strong logic and organizational skills. • Excellent written communication skills. • Strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills. • Strong time-management skills. • Strong decision-making skills. • Ability to prioritize and/or deal with multiple issues and/or projects. • Ability to solicit input from users and content authors, arbitrate conflicting requests, and synthesize the problems into solvable pieces.ElementalSource, LLC
  17. 17. General skill sets • Strategic – develop the plan (Information Architect) • Tactical – execute the plan (Information Technologist) • Hard – tools and technologies • Soft – people management, change managementElementalSource, LLC
  18. 18. Strategy vs. tactics • A content strategy should be developed without consideration to specific tools or technologies, as much as possible. • Building around a tool can limit the vision…you end up doing what the tool can do rather than what you need to do. • Develop a strategy and then find a tool to support it. • So…an IA doesn’t necessarily need to know XML or DITA or FrameMaker or any specific tool or technology.ElementalSource, LLC
  19. 19. Strategy vs. tactics • Many times, strategy and implementation are the same person’s responsibility (like me) • But often, an IA develops the content strategy and a different person or group implements it—Content TechnologyElementalSource, LLC
  20. 20. IA is not DITA! DITA is not IA! • IA/structured authoring/content management have become somewhat synonymous with DITA • An XML-based approach makes some things a lot easier but is not essential – You can develop and implement most of the principles of IA outside of that framework • Even when taking an XML-based approach, DITA is not always the answer • Just implementing DITA is also not the answer…you can have crappy content in DITA, tooElementalSource, LLC
  21. 21. People skills – Change management • Content isn’t created in a vacuum—people write it and they feel strongly about it • Writers may be entrenched in processes that they helped develop and feel ownership towards • A team of writers may have been working individually and don’t see the need for a universal standard • With structured authoring, writers may feel their creativity and judgment are being taken away • You have to overcome all these things!ElementalSource, LLC
  22. 22. Contact me Leigh White ElementalSource, LLC elementalsource@gmail.com 678.467.7706 http://elementalsource.pbworks.com/ http://www.linkedin.com/in/leighwwhite skype: leighw.whiteElementalSource, LLC

×