Squidoo tells me that “Information architecture brings together how people think with how systems work. It’s a strategy and a discipline.”
This sounds great … if somewhat vague.
Webmonkey adds that “Information architecture is the science of figuring out what you want your site to do and then constructing a blueprint before you dive in and put the thing together.”
I want to know more about from a copy-writer’s point of view – I want to know what my writing role is in this discipline … this blueprint.
Of course, the guys that are most obviously involved in information architecture initially are the ‘techies’ – the ones who do things no-one else has the foggiest idea about. While the site needs to please the eye and actually work, the writing is what will actually do the job further down the line.
It seems to me that the questions being asked by the techie should also make it to the writer’s to-do list and should be answered in terms of building a ‘back-story’, if you will, for the written copy.
- define the business’s mission
- learn about the business’s brand
- identify the goals of the website
- define the audience
- know exactly why people are going to visit the site
Well, now how is that any different to any marketing/website you produce? It’s not, but taking a while to consider these things properly could make writing a lot easier.
Webmonkey advises talking to everyone in the business from the top, down; writing down all the answers to distil into lists that should then be approved by the business before you get writing the copy.
Leaving the ‘audience’ responses till later, responses from the other bullet points should be rephrased into a set of goals, to be circulated and ranked into order of importance by the people involved in the business.
The ranked goals provide a set of clearly defined goals that will help enormously when it comes to writing (as well, of course, to designing and programming for the rest of the site team!).
Hmm, I think I’m going to enjoy information architecture – I’m a little worried by how obsessed I could get by it! I’m really looking forward to finding out about word tracking a little down the line – apparently users’ reactions change dramatically simply by writing a different word or phrase in a certain place (often the call to action). That’s probably a long way down the line … baby steps!