Is it just me or do lots of people confuse what Information Architecture is and how it relates to other disciplines in web and application design? In particular, how it relates to Interaction Design.
I found the misunderstanding so common that I was starting to wonder if it was me with the problem?! Had I simplified it too much?
Happily, today I happened upon someone far more authoratative than myself who has set down the following definition (which, thankfully, I wholeheartedly agree with).
IA means defining information structures to answer the question “how does a user find the information they want?” Thus navigation links for a big corporate Web site reflect IA: where can I find directions to the company’s main headquarters? When you talk about content, page hierarchy, and taxonomy, you probably have an IA problem.
On the other hand, IxD means defining system behaviors to answer the question “how does a user take the action they want?” Thus the pulldowns, buttons, and checkboxes in a Web email application reflect IxD: what must I do to reply to the sender of this email? When you talk about action, controls, and dynamic elements, you probably have in IxD problem. Some problems include both components: consider how Amazon includes both large amounts of static content and some very complex dynamic behaviors.
How’s that work for you?
I’ll be using it elsewhere, I can tell you that now.