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Invisible Components - Administration

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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Certain key architectural components are manifest completely in the background; users rarely (if ever) interact with them. These components often “feed” other components, such as a thesaurus that’s used to enhance a search query. Some examples of invisible information architecture components include:

Controlled vocabularies and thesauri

Predetermined vocabularies of preferred terms that describe a specific domain (e.g., auto racing or orthopedic surgery); typically include variant terms (e.g., “brewskie” is a variant term for “beer”). Thesauri are controlled vocabularies that generally include links to broader and narrower terms, related terms, and descriptions of preferred terms (aka “scope notes”). Search systems can enhance queries by extracting a query’s synonyms from a controlled vocabulary.

Retrieval algorithms

Used to rank search results by relevance; retrieval algorithms reflect their programmers’ judgments on how to determine relevance.

Best bets

Preferred search results that are manually coupled with a search query; editors and subject matter experts determine which queries should retrieve best bets, and which documents merit best bet status.

Whichever method you use for categorizing architectural components, it’s useful to drill down beyond the abstract concept of information architecture and become familiar with its more tangible and, when possible, visual aspects. In the following chapters, we’ll take an even deeper look at the nuts and bolts of an information architecture.



 
 
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