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The bible for information specialists,
This review is from: Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites (Paperback)
If you're a designer, creator or manager of 'information spaces', and a lot of us are these days, then this is the book for you. That's not to say there aren't other great books available that cover similar ground, there are, but this is the only book that really does have it all in one place. The 3rd edition (2007) covers social classification and tagging which, in the public domain, are growing in importance all the time so it's worth getting this latest edition.
After a beautifully clear and thoroughly readable introduction to information architecture (and don't be put off by the rather grand term `architecture' as you'll soon understand why that particular term is used), the book presents the nuts and bolts of information work; namely: organising, labelling, navigating, searching, naming and categorising. This section is clearly built upon the ideas and work of previous information theorists and practitioners and sets out the core principles of the discipline lucidly and honestly. The text is crystal clear and very enjoyable to read. It's a great example of how all books like this should be written. It's my guess that, even if you're not directly connected to the `industry' but are simply curious about what goes into making a good information system, you'll enjoy reading this.
For me, as a practitioner, the section on process and methodology is essential reading. This section begins with that all important but often overlooked stage of research. How many information projects have failed due to inadequate research? Yet this is a area which is often seen as time consuming and is usually glossed over. But this is an essential part of any information project as it explains the discovery process necessary to create a foundation of understanding. This is followed by a chapter on strategy which defines the direction and scope of the project. The last chapter in this section covers design and documentation and provides some excellent advice on diagramming and blueprinting.
The Practice section provides practical tips and advice for practitioners and includes a short but very useful chapter on the tools of the trade. Ah yes, how many of us have been required to deliver information solutions but given no proper tools to do the job?
The book concludes with two further sections, one covering information in the organisation and addresses making the case for IA and the business strategy. The other documents two case studies which demonstrates information architecture in practice and consolidates the lessons learned.
If you're a practising `info pro', you probably already have this book in your collection of essentials. But if you haven't already got it, get it; you won't be disappointed.
If you're a student studying one of the many information related courses currently available in a number of universities and colleges, you may already have access to it in your libraries and bookstores. If not, demand that it be added because it's a brilliant book which should be on the required reading list in every library school and information studies department on the planet.