Thus far, we’ve noticed all sorts of things that aren’t information architecture. So what is recognizable as information architecture? You might be surprised by how much information architecture you can see if you know how to look. For example, the information has been structured in some basic ways, which we’ll explain in later chapters:
Present the site’s information to us in a variety of ways, such as content categories that pertain to the entire campus (e.g., the top bar and its “Calendar” and “Academics” choices), or to specific audiences (the “I am a...” area, with such choices as “Prospective Students” and “Staff Member”).
Help users move through the content, such as the “A–Z Directory” and the “Go Quickly To...” menu of popular destinations.
Allow users to search the content. Here, the default is set to search the Gustavus site, but one could also search the Gustavus calendar, its directory, or the whole web from the site’s search interface.
Describe categories, options, and links in language that (hopefully) is meaningful to users; you’ll see examples throughout the page, some (e.g., “Admission”) more understandable than others (“Nobel Conference”).
Figure 4-2 provides a visualization of these architectural components.
As we can see from this figure and from Figure 4-3, these areas are just the tip of the iceberg. Categories group pages and applications throughout the site; labels systematically represent the site’s content; navigation systems and a search system can be used to move through the site. That’s quite a lot of information architecture to cram into one screenshot!
Figure 4-2. This page is crammed with architectual components