Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Enterprise IA Methodologies

Information architects working within enterprises are confronted by unique challenges relating to organisational culture, business processes, and internal politics. Compared to public website or interface design projects, key aspects differ in the application of IA discipline relating to uncertainties around the exact nature of the business problems being solved.

In a typical web or design project, the information architect is given a task, such as:

• Improve the design of the website for consumers

• Develop a user interface for a new business application

• Make it easier for staff to find information on the intranet
In all these cases, the problem is known, and the challenge is to work out the best way to design the solution. User-centered design methodologies then provide a rich toolbox for delivering an effective solution.

However, within the enterprise space, the problem to be solved is often not well understood. For example, information architects may be approached with ill-defined “problems” such as:

• Improve the effectiveness of the intranet

• Help call center staff to access required information

• Increase the uptake of the document management system

• Support sales staff with better online resources

The first task for the information architect in this context is to better understand the problem. Only then can an overall approach be defined, and the normal user-centered design process initiated.

In practice, this means that enterprise IAs often start two steps earlier, focusing first on analyzing needs, and then defining a strategy and scope to meet those needs.

While there are many valid ways to redesign a website or intranet, most projects start with user research to identify user tasks and goals. Then, the IA uses these results to develop a draft IA, which is tested in an iterative manner. Wireframes detail the user interface, and usability testing or similar techniques are used to refine it."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Usability Resources]

Typical IA Approach - Usability, User Interface Design

Typical IA Approach


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8:50 AM  

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