May 26, 2011

IA: my Bruce Wayne existence

So before I had babies and started writing I was an information architect. IA isn't a fancy synonym for rockin' writer -- it's a discipline at the intersection of user experience, web design, and information structuring. If you're saying "arrrgh!!!!" when you're making your way through a site or online checkout process, then Praise the Lord -- you have just justified my existence (professionally speaking).
Good IA undergirds everything on a site, from search functions to browsing findability to when and where you encounter the right buttons with the right labels that help you get your task done. That's just the tip of the iceberg, but the typical IA elevator speech is "I restructure your site to help you make a lot more money, and I help reduce calls to your call center."
I do this in bits and pieces sometimes. For example, right now I'm redesigning a checkout process for a huge auto parts store online. I'm also mocking up wireframes for their content management system and redesigning their parts finder. Of course, everything I do is part of a long chain of design, from strategic info planning through to graphic design and technical development.
It's fun to juxtapose my IA skills with the writing I do. (Auto parts guys, have a seat next to Vera Wang and my beauty blogging!)