The ultimate goal is a centralized, enterprise-wide information architecture. But what does it mean to centralize an information architecture? And what is being centralized?
Typically, content grows organically within an organization, and is owned and maintained by separate business units that make it accessible via subsites (“silos”). This organic information architecture often mirrors the corporate org chart, and because the architecture is not planned, users aren’t well served. A centralized information architecture cuts across political and other boundaries to provide better ways of accessing an organization’s content, using the alternatives to those discussed in Chapter 5.
Portals (Figure 19-1) are a great example of efforts to centralize information architectures. The portal model is especially common to corporate intranets, where a typical goal is to allow an employee to learn about the company’s benefits plan without having to visit four or five subsites of different business units. The enterprise site often starts with a portal or other umbrella site that leads to disparate subsites, typically organized by business unit, and almost always of widely varying quality. The portal can also serve as an architectural model for external sites, such as large corporations that need to provide multiple audiences (e.g., customers, investors, partners) with access to content that originates in different business units.
Figure 19-1. The portal model
In this chapter, we ...