It seems to me that in many cases, the line between development of a content strategy and and information architecture is mighty blurry. I’m wondering if there is some kind of accepted process that everyone is following that I need to know about? Are there rules about who does what and where the crossover starts and ends?
I don’t think so… because I think that these problems only come up on projects of a certain size. A certain very large size. And they only come up in the pre-production phase. If you’re ninemsn, you’ve already got a site and structure and templates and the guts of your IA is done. And you have a plethora of content people managing content. You don’t have this chicken and egg problem with content and IA.
And, often, if you’re re-architecting an enormous big site, then usually you have bucketloads of content that you put into new buckets with new names and away you go. And someone gets delegated the task of re-writing content so that its more web friendly and writing up the new pages (which I’m making sound very easy, but in real life is usually incredibly difficult to resource).
But what if you’ve been given the brief to overhaul not only the IA (and design etc), but also the entire content strategy. What involvement should an IA have in developing that content strategy? Or does that depend on the background of the IA? There is no requirement for an IA to be a Subject Matter Expert (SME for those who love their TLAs), but you would think that being a Content Strategy Expert for a particular site would require a certain level of subject matter expertise? (would you not?)
Much as I love the idea of collaboration (and love actual collaboration in many instances) I’m starting to think perhaps that a better process is to have the bulk of your content strategy settled, and then pull in the IA to work with that content.
Having said that, I’m just about to start arguing with myself, I think… bec ause surely an IA can add value to that content strategy? Eh. Perhaps it just depends on the attributes and experience of the people you pull in to perform each of those rules. God knows, there are many different types of Information Architects (which is a great topic for another time methinks).
The net result of the situation I’ve described above is that I end up feeling that I’m spending too much time defining what the content *is* and not where it is, how its found, all the things that are definitely my responsibility.
Its enough to make a poor project manager pull their hair out and scream about following process… but is there one? Anyone?