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In this conclusion to a two-part article on the anatomy of an information architecture, we take a close look at its typical components. It is excerpted from chapter four of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Third Edition, written by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld (O'Reilly, ISBN: 0596527349). Copyright © 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Components of an Information Architecture
  2. Browsing Aids
  3. Search Aids
  4. Content and Tasks
  5. Invisible Components
By: O'Reilly Media
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June 05, 2008

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These are the users’ ultimate destinations, as opposed to separate components that get users to their destinations. However, it’s difficult to separate content and tasks from an information architecture, as there are components embedded in content and tasks that help us find our way. Examples of information architecture components embedded in content and tasks include:

Headings 

Labels for the content that follows them.

Embedded links 

Links within text; these label (i.e., represent) the  content they link to.

Embedded metadata

Information that can be used as metadata but must first be extracted (e.g., in a recipe, if an ingredient is mentioned, this information can be indexed to support searching by ingredient).

Chunks

Logical units of content; these can vary in granularity (e.g., sections and chapters are both chunks) and can be nested (e.g., a section is part of a book).

Lists

Groups of chunks or links to chunks; these are important because they’ve been grouped together (e.g., they share some trait in common) and have been presented in a particular order (e.g., chronologically).

Sequential aids

Clues that suggest where the user is in a process or task, and how far he has to go before completing it (e.g., “step 3 of 8”).

Identifiers

Clues that suggest where the user is in an information system (e.g., a logo specifying what site she is using, or a breadcrumb explaining where in the site she is).



 
 
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