Garrett on information architecture

Garrett, J.J. (2011). The Elements of User Experience: User Centred Design for the Web and Beyond [EBL version]. Retrieved from

WEB IA: Closely related to information retrieval [does he mean database retrieval?]

TOP-DOWN: Mirrors strategy for product objectives, user needs/rôles (p. 89) [compare with Downey & Banerjee Big IA].

BOTTOM-UP: Working with given information to categorise logically (p. 90) [nice diagram on page 90. Compare Downey & Banerjee Little IA].

BALANCE: Either way steps must be logical and easy. Balance between both approaches.

WEB LIFECYCLE: [Discussion pp. 90-91 is predicated omn the notion that dedicated and considerable resources are available to iteratively refresh web presence. ROI?].

NODE: Basic unit of architecture, can be information item, web page or group of pages (pp. 92-93).

STRUCTURES: Hierarchy (parent and child nodes; matrix (browse by category across categories); organic (no defined structure); and sequential (like book) (pp. 93-95).

ORGANISING PRINCIPLES: could be customer rôles, geography, products, etc (p. 96).

NEWS SITE EXAMPLE: [Garrett is just wrong here. News sites arte used both to check the latest, and the history of specific events and biographies.]

FACETS: Librarian talk for characteristics of an information object according to which they can be categorised (pp. 97-98).

CONTROLLED VOCABULARY: terms useful to users but linked logically to artefacts. Limited to avoid confusion.

THESAURI: Map unapproved terms, jargon, slang, alternatives to controlled vocabulary terms to improve usability of search effort (p. 99).

METADATA: Information about the object [compare Dublin core mentioned by Downey & Banerjee] (pp. 99-101).


Interpellation: Entry-level/amateur.
Absences: Pretty good, but could have used more practical examples.
Utility: OK for filling gaps and taking jargon down-market.
Questions: Is the web focus too strong? Do we start to make assumptions about web design practices being appropriate because they have been used for such a large number of sites?

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