32 Useful Resources on Information Architecture
4 minute read time
Every day you follow a certain path to information.
This path, although invisible to the eye, can make you feel wonderful and excited or lost and frustrated.
When done right, you not only find the information you’re looking for but you understand it.
Here’s the challenge: more and more information is available every day.
This is where information architecture (IA) comes in to save the day.
IA is the systematic organizing and labeling of information so that we can find and understand information.
A good information architecture can not only make customers happier and more successful but it can have a huge impact on whether visitors become and stay customers.
Whether this is the first time you’re hearing about information architecture or you know all about it and want to dive deeper, here are some helpful resources for you.
If you want to dive in deep to the topic of information architecture there are some books that I have found invaluable on this topic.
- Information Architecture: For the web and beyond by Louis Rosenfeld - I first came across this book in 2005 during my Human-Computer Interaction graduate studies. It is the most comprehensive book on IA that I have found.
- Information Architecture: Blueprints for the web by Christina Wodtke - this book is a little less dense, a little easier to read, and almost as comprehensive as the book above. You can’t go wrong with either book.
- How to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert - I loved this fun and light book on IA. This book is not strictly about IA for the web - it’s broader than that and a very fun and light approach to learning IA.
- Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture by Andrew Hinton - this book does a great job of explaining the cognition and perception impact of a good IA design.
- The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett - if you want to know where IA fits into the whole user experience, this is the book for you.
- Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati - I can’t personally vouch for this book as I haven’t yet read it but I plan to. I’ve heard it is a great book on teaching you how to think like an IA rather than the actual implementation.
- The Accidental Taxonomist - a book on the art and science of building information taxonomies.
- Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories by Donna Spencer - card sorting is a very popular and effective technique in IA and this book is an excellent resource for any IA.
Whether you’re interested in connecting with others in the field of IA, seeking professional development opportunities, or simply want to enhance your business profile joining a professional IA organization is a great way to go. Here are a few to consider:
- The Information Architecture Institute - this is the biggest professional organization for IA.
- Association for Information Science and Technology - another big professional organization geared directly at IA.
- User Experience Professionals Association - a little more broad and not directly focused on IA, but still a great professional organization you should consider.
- Information Architecture Community Group - this is more of an online community than a professional organization. But, it’s a great place to engage with other Information Architects around the world.
Information Architecture Conferences
Consider meeting with like-minded people and industry peers at one of these conferences:
- The Information Architecture Conference (also known as the IA Summit) - this is the conference to attend for information architects.
- World IA Day - a day set aside in February dedicated to IA. If you’re familiar with the Idea Conference, World IA Day took over the Idea Conference.
- The EuroIA Conference - an excellent IA and UX conference and definitely worth checking out.
- Advancing Research Conference - if you do any sort of UX research or manage a group of researchers this conference will open your mind and broaden your understanding.
- UX Insight Festival - this is another great conference for UX research professionals.
- Design Operations Summit - a conference meant for people who build and manage design operations, which typically includes IA professionals.
Quickly learn about Information Architecture
Maybe you’re not sure you want to invest in a book or a conference yet. I get it.
If that's the case or you simply want some helpful IA resources right now, the following lists are for you.
These aren’t quite as in-depth but still very good - with much less commitment!
First, here are a few good articles explaining information architecture if you’re new to it:
- A very good beginners guide to IA.
- Get an overview of IA quickly. If you’re in a hurry, this is a great article to give you the main points very quickly.
- IA explained from a designers perspective.
- If you’re ready to jump from IA theory to techniques this article is for you.
- The reality of where the web is at in regards to IA (hint: we’re not doing very well).
Card Sorting is a UX research technique that helps you uncover an IA that mets your users expectations. Here are a few quick articles on card sorting:
- This book chapter from The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction is a very thorough and complete guide to card sorting
- A concise overview of card sorting
- A visual guide to card sorting (coming soon...)
Here are a few other worthwhile resources to better understand IA:
And finally, here are a few websites every information architect should at least know exists: