Chapter 7. Research

So far, we’ve concentrated on the component parts and principles of information architecture design. Now, we’re going to shift gears and explore the process that brings these components and principles together to form useful, elegant information architectures.

If it were just a matter of applying a few design principles to a web site, our jobs would be easy. However, as we discussed earlier, information architecture doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The design of large sites requires an interdisciplinary team approach that involves graphic designers, programmers, information architects, and other experts. For everyone to collaborate effectively, you need to define and agree upon a relatively structured development process. Even for smaller projects when teams might be small and individuals might fill multiple roles, tackling the right challenges at the right time is critical to success.

The next few chapters provide an overview of the three major phases of site development. This chapter begins with a review of existing background materials and quickly moves into a series of meetings aimed at gathering and synthesizing information. In Chapter 8, we cover the creative brainstorming phase where you define the web site. Chapter 9, shows how your ideas are put to the test as the site is built, tested, and launched.

Throughout these chapters, we’ll sometimes refer to interactions with the client. This language betrays our consulting backgrounds but also raises an important ...

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