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Integrating information models across disciplines and domains

Michael Priestley
Michael Priestley
Michael PriestleyLead Information Architect

Whether we’re talking about design, content, search, or engineering, we all need an information model that captures what the user needs and cares about. But we don’t all need the same parts, or even start in the same place. I’ll look at information modeling approaches I’ve encountered across programming, design, content architecture, and SEO teams, and the priorities they serve. Then I’ll share how we can integrate these approaches to align cross-discipline work, reduce conflicts, and ensure a consistent end-to-end customer experience. An integrated information model ensures that our user experience, search experience, and content architecture stays aligned as our users needs and business problems change and evolve.

Integrating information models across disciplines and domains

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Integrating information models
across disciplines and domains
Michael Priestley
Information architect and taxonomist for Avalara.com
2
© Avalara. Confidential and proprietary.
(same year Information Architecture for the WWW was published)
My first IA in 1998 at IBM
Information
model
Pages
I worked in the same office as my authors, on IBM Rational and WebSphere products
Scope was product-level, with content embedded in the product and published on the web
Google had 26 million pages indexed
IA Authors
Concept model
Task model
Reference index
3
© Avalara
A unified process for software and documentation development (IPCC/SIGDOC 2000)
Scenario-based and model-driven information development with XML DITA (SIGDOC 2003)
IBM’s standard product docs IA in 2005
Information
model
Content
objects
I worked remotely providing strategy and standards for 1400+ writers worldwide
Scope was company-wide, with content embedded in products, printed, and published on the web
IBM had ~40 million pages of product docs on its website
IA Authors
Product
UX
Software
architect
Scenarios and personas
Concept model
Task model
Reference index
Relationship model
Per product
family
Testing
4
© Avalara
(same year COVID was published)
IBM.com IA when I came back to it in 2019
Information
model Pages
I worked remotely with main offices in New York and Austin
Scope was company-wide, with primary focus on marketing content published on the web
IBM had ~30 million pages published total
IA
Digital
strategists
SEO
UXD
Content
architect
Ontologist
Analytics
Authors
Topic ontology
Topic clusters
Content types
Product taxonomy
CMS
architect
UXR
5
© Avalara
(One year in)
IA at Avalara
Information
model
Pages
I work remotely with offices around the world
Scope is company-wide, with primary focus on marketing content published on the web
Avalara has about 150,000 pages across multiple domains
IA
Digital
strategist
Analytics
Authors
User and product domain
Content domain
Subject model
Purpose model
SEO Ontologist
UXR
UXD
Product
models
CMS
architect
Who owns the information model?
6
(It is not this tidy)
Research and test
hierarchies and
categories
User experience researcher
Abstract objects and
relationships
Content models
per page/object
Cross-page
groupings and
relationships
Content
domain
Purpose
model
Information model
User and
product
domains
Subject
model
Types of things
Lists of things
Types of content
Attributes of content
UXR
Ontologist
IA
Content
architect
© Avalara

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Integrating information models across disciplines and domains

  • 1. Integrating information models across disciplines and domains Michael Priestley Information architect and taxonomist for Avalara.com
  • 2. 2 © Avalara. Confidential and proprietary. (same year Information Architecture for the WWW was published) My first IA in 1998 at IBM Information model Pages I worked in the same office as my authors, on IBM Rational and WebSphere products Scope was product-level, with content embedded in the product and published on the web Google had 26 million pages indexed IA Authors Concept model Task model Reference index
  • 3. 3 © Avalara A unified process for software and documentation development (IPCC/SIGDOC 2000) Scenario-based and model-driven information development with XML DITA (SIGDOC 2003) IBM’s standard product docs IA in 2005 Information model Content objects I worked remotely providing strategy and standards for 1400+ writers worldwide Scope was company-wide, with content embedded in products, printed, and published on the web IBM had ~40 million pages of product docs on its website IA Authors Product UX Software architect Scenarios and personas Concept model Task model Reference index Relationship model Per product family Testing
  • 4. 4 © Avalara (same year COVID was published) IBM.com IA when I came back to it in 2019 Information model Pages I worked remotely with main offices in New York and Austin Scope was company-wide, with primary focus on marketing content published on the web IBM had ~30 million pages published total IA Digital strategists SEO UXD Content architect Ontologist Analytics Authors Topic ontology Topic clusters Content types Product taxonomy CMS architect UXR
  • 5. 5 © Avalara (One year in) IA at Avalara Information model Pages I work remotely with offices around the world Scope is company-wide, with primary focus on marketing content published on the web Avalara has about 150,000 pages across multiple domains IA Digital strategist Analytics Authors User and product domain Content domain Subject model Purpose model SEO Ontologist UXR UXD Product models CMS architect
  • 6. Who owns the information model? 6 (It is not this tidy) Research and test hierarchies and categories User experience researcher Abstract objects and relationships Content models per page/object Cross-page groupings and relationships Content domain Purpose model Information model User and product domains Subject model Types of things Lists of things Types of content Attributes of content UXR Ontologist IA Content architect © Avalara
  • 7. What’s in those models? 7 And what do we do with them? Disclaimer Anything I’m sharing is just illustrating a concept Any relationship to actual models is purely coincidental © Avalara
  • 8. Content domain 8 Product Catalog Category Guide Demo Solution Hub Content object Navigation object Article Event Case study Some content objects are tied directly to product or user domain objects Author/ Presenter Content architect Developer SEO Defines content architecture based on model Implements architecture in CMS Ensures schema.org mappings Purpose model © Avalara
  • 10. Journey stage Content type Depth Template Objective KPIs Role Aware Guide Deep dive Long form Learn Time on page Pillar or core 10 Example: A template planning spreadsheet Informs template design UXD Informs automated linking Developer Informs authoring Authoring Informs analytics Analytics © Avalara
  • 11. From model to page: what is the content for? 11 Content model Templates Pages Content domain Purpose model Info model IA Content architect UXR SEO UXD Developer Authors Analytics © Avalara
  • 12. User and product domains 12 Tax type Business type Business need Jurisdiction Business Employee Job role System Product Integration Addon Bundle Edition Ontologist Product marketing Product engineering © Avalara
  • 13. Subject models 13 Tax type Business type Business need Product Avatax For sales tax For bev alc tax Addon Calculation Licensing Sales tax Bev alc tax Returns Bev alc Brand Ontologist SEO Authors (SMEs) Product marketing UXR © Avalara
  • 14. Example: subject model 14 One model drives taxonomies, topic clusters, and menus Taxonomy questions: - Group by type of thing (tax type, business type….) - Optimized for retrieval - Do we have enough content for each content type? Cluster/menu questions - Group by relatedness (is the tax type specific to a business type?) - Optimize for exploration - Do we have enough content for each journey stage? Result: Menus increase both organic traffic and engagement Metadata connects extended content to topic pillars through automated links and filters © Avalara
  • 15. One model, two workflows, one experience 15 © Avalara A B C A1 B1 C1 A2 B2 C2 A1 B1 C3 D2 Filters Links Menus Menu hierarchy Taxonomies Subject model
  • 16. From model to filters: what is the content about? 16 Taxonomies Metadata Links and filters User and product domains Subject model Info model Ontologist IA UXR Data governance Developer Authors Analytics Product engineering Tax SMEs © Avalara
  • 17. From model to clusters: where does the content belong? 17 Clusters Menus Performance model User and product domains Subject model Info model Ontologist IA UXR UXD Developer SEO Analytics Digital strategy Product marketing © Avalara
  • 18. Is this my IA now? 18 Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Links and filters Performance model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Alignment here…. …means alignment here © Avalara
  • 19. Is this useful? 19 Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Links and filters Performance model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Abstract Concrete Within a page Across pages © Avalara
  • 20. The truth is too big to fit 20 Our taxonomy alignment spreadsheet has ~20 organizations Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model IA UXR Developer UXD SEO Digital strategy Authors Analytics Marketing Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist Content architect Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Sales Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Product engineering Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect Developer UXD SEO Digital strategy Authors Docs and support UXR UXR © Avalara
  • 21. But we’re working on it 21 Public experience Product experience Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Our IA 2025? Content model Clusters Info model Content model Shared models Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics Employee experience Content model Taxonomies Clusters Templates Metadata Menus Pages Linksand filters Experience model Info model Ontologist IA Content architect UXR Developer UXD SEO Data governance Digital strategy Authors Analytics © Avalara
  • 22. Questions? © Avalara. Confidential and proprietary. 22