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on March 10, 2007
What this book does is show you how librarians fit into 21st century. The book does very good promotion of IA itself, and shows why it's important.

The first half of the book is somewhat theoretical and hard to read. However, it's really worth reading. It will explain some concepts (thesaurus, categorization,...) librarians have used for a very long time, and how to easily used them while designing web sites.

The second part is where the book gets more practical and actually shows how to use IA in practice, which was, at least for me, the more interesting part. If you are in any way connected to web development, you should read this book.

The entire book is exactly what it says it is - "Designing large-scale web sites". Although some concepts can be applied to smaller sites, you will hardly find resources to make use of some of the things authors talk about.

There are many books on usability out there, but this one is dedicated to findability. If these terms are new to you, I recommend you read Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" and Jakob Nielsen's "Prioritizing Web Usability" before reading this book. It might make it easier to read, and the book will definitely make more sense to you.
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on March 3, 2000
I had been looking around for a book like this for some time now: one that guides me through the crucial conceptual design phase of web site development. Most books on web site design are really about user interface design. This book offers a top-down planning approach to getting from the recognition of a need for a web site through to the final working design. It plugs up a lot of the gaping holes that topic-specific design texts leave open.
The over-riding concern and emphasis in the first section of the book is on how to organize the information on the web site in such a way that the target audience can readily get at it. To this end, the authors focus on three 'systems' that need to be developed, implemented and coordinated on a web site: a navigation system, a labeling system and a searching system. Once these systems are thought through and designed then the rest of the work becomes a matter of filling in the information content, functionalities and the bells and whistles.
Clear, concise and even a bit humorous, this book will definitely give you a peace of mind if you find yourself a bit overwhelmed at times when deciding on just how you will approach building a web site.
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on October 16, 2000
A book on web design written by librarians. Skeptical? So was I. But darned if they don't hit the ol' web design nail right on the ol' head. (Okay, they're not really librarians - but both authors come from a Library Science background.) When I started on my Interaction Design masters degree, there wasn't anything written sepcifically about it. So my education was based on other fields - architecture, rhetoric, psychology, graphic design. Now we're starting to see some good Interaction Design books coming from experts in those other fields.
The strength of this book is its emphasis on defining a navigable structure for a site. It covers structure, navigation, searching/browsing, and this is the first book I've seen that spends a whole chapter on button and link labelling systems. It's added labelling to my ID vocabulary.
I do agree with another reviewer who wanted more in-depth examples, but with enough web experience it's easy to come up with examples on our own. So I gave the book the fifth star.
This and Jennifer Fleming's Web Navigation (both O'Reilly books) are must-haves for web designers.
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on November 8, 1999
This book can easily be divided into 2 sections. The first is an overview of how and why information is organized. The second is how to apply that information when planning and designing a large website. To the author's credit, they took a potentially dull topic and actually made it interesting. I would have appreciated less background and theory and more practical advise on how to plan a website though. There are some gems in this book, but you really have to dig to find them. Since there is really no "hands on" advise this is a good book to read while traveling. If your designing a large enterprise website you would be wise to read at least the second half of this book...especially if you are in management.
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on February 18, 2000
The basics of information architecture must be understood by anyone designing a web site. Granted, some people intuitively know these basics, but for the rest of the world, this book will introduce you. Coming to IA from the highly organized world of library science, the authors know the ins and outs of making information available in an easy to use organizational system. Obviously, anyone going into IA should read this book; it's considered a standard. It's not a bad idea to loan it to your content developers and coders, too, though. If they know a little better where you're coming from when you suggest ways to organize information and pages, they may be more receptive to your suggestions. The only drawback is that the sites used for examples are a bit dated now, and there are some innovative things being done currently with navigation that aren't covered here as a result. Get this book now, and if they come out in a year or two with a revised edition, take a look at the new examples.
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on December 26, 2006
What is information architecture? Actually that is a question that I never really knew until I came across this book. Information architecture (as defined by the author) is the structural design of shared information environments. It is the combination of organization, labeling, search and navigation systems within web sites and intranets. IT is also the art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability.

Does that definition make it any clearer? Maybe a little, but basically it means how to properly design the architecture of medium to large websites (kind of).

Unless you're a senior developer of a large company that has a large website, or are in the process of doing so, you probably never had the first hand experience of how to set the foundation of properly displaying large amounts of data to customers.

The beginning of the book the author explains the importance of Information Architects and how one can gain the experience to be one since there is really no degree or certification at this point in time. The author explains the backgrounds one may need to have to gain the necessary knowledge: journalism, library science, product management, technical writing, etc. To be an "AI", does not mean you have a computer background, it means that you have an understanding of how to use information to convey the meaning they are trying to get across to the customer. Indexing data, organizing data, structuring data are some of the tasks that are needed. It seems to me that it is one of the "unknown solders" disciplines in web development, but it is necessary for a successful site design.

The book also discusses the niches of AI that are popping up recently such as:

Metadata Specialist

Content Manager

Director, User Experience

Search Schema Content Editor

The first part of the book focuses on the anatomy of information architecture. The author goes through many web page examples of showing how to visual information architecture. Showing each sites home page and going through categories such as navigation systems, search systems and labeling systems shows you how important small bits of information can convey a particular question to the user.

The questions could be:

How do I get around the site?

What's important and unique about this organization?

What's available on this site?

How can I contact a human?

What's there address?

Later in the book the author describes different browser aids, search aids, content and tasks and invisible components that an AI can use to help the user get the information they need.

Examples would be:

Browser aids:

Sitemaps, site guides, site wizards, contextual navigation systems, local navigation

Search aids:

Search interface, query language, query builders, search zones, search results

Content and tasks:

Headings, embedded links, lists, sequential aids, identifiers

"Invisible" components:

Retrieval algorithms, categorizing data, specific vocabularies

All of these are discussed throughout the book in an easy-to-read manner so that when you design or re-design a site you can keep these in mind if you can't afford to hire an AI yourself.

A really interesting book that makes you re-think the design of your site!
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on May 23, 2000
Today many Website design technologies and rigid content requirements have made Web development a more demanding task. Although there are many fine Website design books around to assist Webmasters, a return to the basics of design layout is in serious order.
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web offers readers the guidance they need to design Websites that are easy to manage, navigate, and expand as mission requirements change. Rather than discussing strict HTML and Web graphics design, the authors focus upon the actual mapping out of Websites to insure that they are properly structured and will deliver content in an efficient and orderly manner.
Rosenfeld and Morville outline the main job tasks of the information architect and the disciplinary background they should possess or cultivate. They cite backgrounds in library science, journalism, engineering, marketing, graphics design, and computer science as essential disciplines to be embraced. When brought together and put into practice they will perform important roles in developing an eye and mindset for successful Web development.
The authors discuss important Website design considerations such as the productive use of screen real estate, navigational bars, frames, pull-down menus, and other features that can be employed to effectively deliver Website content. Although this line of instruction is not the main emphasis of the book, the brief addressing of these features assist readers to gain added perspective of the overall strategy of delivering, you guessed it, Web content!
Readers are instructed to perform thorough research to determine answers to questions such as: What are the goals? What can your clients afford? Who are the intended audiences? Why will people visit a site? What types of content should and should not be part of the site? Answers to these and other questions should be determining factors throughout the entire Web development process.
Readers will find the discussions involving brainstorming extremely helpful. This activity should be of major concern during the Web development process. The use of boards, flipcharts, mockups, design sketches, developing prototypes, metaphor exploration, creating scenarios, and structured blueprints can greatly enhance the entire development process.
Reading this book will be for many a refreshing and stimulating experience. Readers will gain valuable behind-the-scenes insight necessary to successfully design Websites that not only look good but perform well to achieve intended goals. Good HTML, programming language scripts, and flashy Web graphics are not enough. Pick up some solid visionary thinking skills. Highly recommended!
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on May 13, 2001
This is another example of a book I wished I'd known about a year or so ago. I'm an amateur web designer and up until just recently maintained web sites for three different volunteer groups. Now one of them has decided to get another person to run the site. If I'd known about the concepts presented in this book, I might still be running it! The book discusses how to organize the content on a wbe site and covers a lot of areas the average site designer might not consider on first glance. There's nothing more frustrating than being in the "middle" of a site and "getting lost" with no way out other than to start over. While this is an extreme example, too many sites suffer from navigational problems.
This book offers choices on how to organize the information on your site, various ways to design it, the types of systems you can use to search for specific data on the site, researching and planning it (with a great outline on what you should include in your research), and the business of creating and maintaining your design. The book's authors stress the importance of keeping everyone in the process involved in it at all times, as well as pointing out that just because you finally finished it does not mean your job is over! There's always the job of keeping the site as current as possible.
Anyone responsible for maintaining a site (even if it's just your own) should take a look through this book.
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on September 18, 2000
Overall, this book is good beginning read in the field of information architecture. For anyone interested in the topic, my recommendation would be to do additional reading. The authors provide an excellent bibliography at the end of the book which could serve as an excellent point of departure for the student of IA.
As far as the readibility of the book is concerned, it is easy to read although the authors bear responsibility for poor grammar and sentence structure in certain parts of the book. It is my opinion that this doesn't make the book less valuable as a resource.
A couple of other points about the book that bear mention. The authors used the example of the Henry Ford Health System Web site throughout the book. This is a great example. There are a few other examples used in the book However, I think the authors could have provided even more examples. My recommendation for the authors would be to provide the public with a second, more detailed edition. Remember this book was published in early 1998. We've come a long way since then and the web is replete with examples of good architecture.
Overall: Thumbs Up!
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on December 13, 1999
a DEFINATE ASSET for ANY role in website development- from the project managers, designers, to even developers- it would even be a good book for clients who want results or are working closely with the agency developing content for their site. i am going to ask my boss to buy this book for everyone at work! this book reinforces many basic website organization "rules" while offering many that i never thought of- all to help me have a fresh approach to organizing websites and interfaces each time i begin a new project at work. it teaches you what to look for to constantly learn while working and visiting other sites. i've been to one of louis' seminars and would also reccommend you to go to one!
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