8 February 2007

Information architecture, meet the enterprise web [CMS Watch]

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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
“Enterprises have been characterized by a constant tug-of-war between forces of centralization and autonomy,” write Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfeld in their book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (currently in its third edition), a section of which was reprinted in CMS Watch.

“We haven’t yet encountered an enterprise website that didn’t suffer from problems associated with decentralization. Put another way, it’s the rare site that is too centralized. Now that websites are recognized as a foundational component of doing business in the 21st century, many early sources of resistance to centralization are wearing down. Business units are beginning to understand the benefits of shared resources and coherent user experience, for their sites’ users as much as for their own bottom lines.

So it’s tempting to consider centralization as the ultimate goal of enterprise IA. It does sound like a nice way to deal with the problem: Just design an information architecture that knits together all units’ content silos in a rational, usable way, and then implement across the organization.

The goal of enterprise IA is not to centralize everything you see. In fact, the goal of EIA is no different than any other flavor of IA: identify the few most efficient means of connecting users with the information they need most. That often might involve adopting some centralizing measures, but it could also mean a highly decentralized approach, such as enabling employees to use a social bookmarking tool to tag intranet content. The point, as always, is to apply whatever approach makes the most sense given your organization, its users, content, and context.”

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