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Information Architect

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

Often, the work of the information architect (IA) is another responsibility of the Web designer. But with sites getting bigger and more complex, there's a need for a person to build the site's foundation. The Information Architecture Institute, formerly known as the Asiolmar Institute for Information Architecture, defines IA as, “The art and science of organizing and labeling Web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support usability and findability.”

The IA is the great visualizer who pulls the pieces of a site together into one comprehensible and usable site before anyone does markup. Building a hierarchical relationship, creating blueprints, designing a labeling system, and developing the wireframes are the tasks on the IA's overflowing plate. The IA takes the overloaded plate and divides it into bite-sized chunks to create meaningful relationships.

An IA works with the design team from the start of the project by identifying the client's goals, visions, and audience. Along the way, he takes a content inventory. As if that weren't enough, IAs prepare the site for the future by ensuring that it's scalable and ready to handle anything new that comes its way.