I will be talking about the Information Architecture, a huge concept and almost a standalone field in Information Technology world. I want to highlight this important topic, and its role in SharePoint Internet Portal projects.
This article just includes a general overview about information architecture, and does not include how to plan and build your information architecture for SharePoint portals; hopefully I will be writing about this subject in more details in next posts.
If we need to come up with a general definition for it, we could say it’s the organization of information in an enterprise to maximize the information’s usability and manageability, and to analyze content and information included in your internet portal, and this is a very important early step in your project.
Implementation for Successful Information Architecture
Factors that contribute to a successful implementation of information architecture includes the following:
• How easy it is to find information?
• How information is stored and retrieved?
• How users navigate to information?
• How redundant or overlapping information is?
• What metadata is available for each type of information?
Poorly Designed Information Architecture
Poorly designed information architecture could lead to the following main problems and even more:
• Inconsistent use of metadata can make it difficult to search for and compare related items of information.
• Poorly designed and managed storage of content can cause a proliferation of duplicate versions of documents. As a result, users cannot identify the authoritative version.
• Poorly presented information can reduce the ability of some users to access the information.
Information Architecture – Example
When you design the information architecture of an Internet presence Web site, you might focus on how the site is organized into a hierarchy of sub-sites and Web pages, how that hierarchy is exposed in the site’s navigation features, and how easy it is to search for content on the site.
To make information in the web site easier to locate, you need to analyze content and create new information architecture, so we come up with the following:
• How the content is categorized
• How the content is stored
• How the content is laid
Searching for a way to build proper information architecture, found many ways and approaches have been followed, one of these approaches is to engage your stakeholders using surveys and polls:
• Survey existing content and Web site structure
- Analyze and record how information and content are distributed across current sites and sub sites.
• Survey user requirements
- Needed information
- Are they able to find that information easily?
- Is there missing information?
• Survey business requirements
- What information should they first encounter?
- How will they explore information?
- SharePoint Internet presence governance plan (white paper) - by Joel Oleson.
- Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog: How We Did It: SharePoint.Microsoft.com.