Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design, architecture and information science to the digital landscape. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development.
Today there is a growing network of active IA specialists who constitute the Information Architecture Institute.
Information architecture has somewhat different meanings in different branches of Information systems or Information technology:
The structural design of shared information environments.:4
The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support findability and usability.
The combination of organization, labeling, search and navigation systems within websites and intranets.:4
Extracting required parameters/data of Engineering Designs in the process of creating a knowledge-base linking different systems and standards.
A blueprint and navigational aid to the content of information-rich systems.
A subset of data architecture where usable data (a.k.a. information) is constructed in and designed or arranged in a fashion most useful or empirically holistic to the users of this data.
The practice of organizing the information / content / functionality of a web site so that it presents the best user experience it can, with information and services being easily usable and findable (as applied to web design and development).
The conceptual framework surrounding information, providing context, awareness of location and sustainable structure.
The difficulty in establishing a common definition for "information architecture" arises partly from the term's existence in multiple fields. In the field of systems design, for example, information architecture is a component of enterprise architecture that deals with the information component when describing the structure of an enterprise.
While the definition of information architecture is relatively well-established in the field of systems design, it is much more debatable within the context of online information(i.e., websites). Andrew Dillon refers to the latter as the "big IA–little IA debate". In the little IA view, information architecture is essentially the application of information science to web design which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval. In the big IA view, information architecture involves more than just the organization of a website; it also factors in user experience, thereby considering usability issues of information design.
Richard Saul Wurman clarified his use of the term information architect when he wrote: "I mean architect as used in the words architect of foreign policy. I mean architect as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work — the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear."
In the keynote address of the first annual ACIA conference on Information Architecture in October of 2000, Peter Morville presented "Information architecture isn't about superficial appearances. It's about mission-critical infrastructure."
Notable people in information architecture
Richard Saul Wurman, credited with coining the term information architecture in relation to the design of information
Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios and co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (1998, 2002, 2006, 2015)
Louis Rosenfeld, founder of Rosenfeld Media and co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (1998, 2002, 2006, 2015)
^Morville & Rosenfeld (2000). p. 4. "The art and science of shaping information products and experienced to support usability and findability."
^Resmini, A. & Rosati, L. (2012). A Brief History of Information Architecture. Journal of Information Architecture. Vol. 3, No. 2. [Available at http://journalofia.org/volume3/issue2/03-resmini/]. Originally published in Resmini, A. & Rosati L. (2011). Pervasive Information Architecture. Morgan Kaufmann. (Edited by the authors).
^Toms, Elaine (17 May 2012). "Information interaction: Providing a framework for information architecture". Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 53 (10.1002/asi.10094): 855–862. doi:10.1002/asi.10094.