Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
Copyright © 2000-2007 Isabel Pedersen
Rosenfeld and Morville argue for the role of the Information Architect within the design process of web sites. They carve out a specific set of tasks unique to this position that are different from the tasks assigned to the graphic designer, layout person, writer, marketer etc. Rosenfeld and Morville are librarians by trade and in many ways this book applies the professional skills of librarianship to Web design. They focus on the organization of information so that it is searchable and retrievable. They are not concerned with the rhetorical or aesthetic nature of a web page.
Specifically, they explain the design of navigation systems, which includes tables of contents, navigation bars, frames, pull-down menus, indexes and site maps. They discuss the types of users that visit sites and the ways in which people navigate (e.g., browsing, guided tours, searching etc.). They analyze labeling systems; which is really a discussion of nomenclature and meaningful headings for a web site.
The section on searching is particularly interesting; as librarians, these authors have years of experience dealing with the ways that people search and retrieve information in non-electronic environments. When moving to the web, an understanding of traditional models of searching is very useful. They categorize types of searchers and what people are really looking for when they do a certain search. They explain and analyze methods for designing search pages for specific contexts. They discuss valuable ways to display search results and they raise the issue as to what should and shouldn’t be indexed by a search engine.
They include a little bit about conceptual design and the use of metaphor, but this is not really their domain and they do not address this very thoroughly. On the practical side, they explain how to create the blueprints for the architecture of the system and this is a useful.
Overall, this book is helpful if one is designing a site that includes large amounts of information that needs managing in a constructive way.