15.6. The Dream Team
The projects and programs of today are lucky to have one information architect involved. In the coming years, as sites become increasingly mission-critical and the industry matures, we will see teams of specialists blended to meet the unique challenges of each context.
Given a web site or intranet of sufficient value and complexity, Table 15-1 shows some of the information architecture specialists we'd want as part of our dream team.
Table 15-1. Information architecture dream team
|Strategy Architect ||Responsible for overseeing design of the overall information architecture and working with other teams to ensure good integration. Familiarity with the business context and an ability to establish relationships with senior management are critical. |
|Thesaurus Designer ||Develops classification schemes, controlled vocabularies, and thesauri. Requires education, experience, and a passion for detail. |
|Controlled Vocabulary Manager ||Manages evolution of controlled vocabularies, including addition, modification, and deletion of preferred and variant terms. May coordinate a team of indexing specialists. |
|Indexing Specialist ||Tags content and services with controlled vocabulary metadata. Requires attention to detail and commitment to quality and consistency. |
|Interaction Designer ||Works in the gray area between information architecture and graphic design. Creates navigation schemes and page layouts with a focus on user interaction. |
|IA Software Analyst ||The critical link between the IA and IT teams, focusing on ways to leverage software to create, manage, and drive the user experience. Requires familiarity with content management systems, search engines, auto-classification, collaborative filtering, and thesaurus management software. |
|IA Usability Engineer ||Focuses on the intersection of usability and information architecture. Conducts studies that isolate IA elements (e.g., category labels). Background in HCI or ethnography. |
|Cartographer ||Converts patterns in content, structure, and usage into maps, guides, indexes, and other useful navigation tools. |
|Search Analyst ||Leads the design, improvement, and ongoing analysis of the search system. Works closely with the design, technical, content management, and information architecture teams. |
This is only a partial inventory of the specialized roles information architects will be filling in the coming years. Other roles we expect to see include:
Enterprise Information Architect
Social Navigation Architect
Content Management Architect
Knowledge Management Architect
Web Services Architect
Some may consider these ideas foolish, a fantasy constructed by information architects for information architects. But the complexity, sophistication, and importance (real and perceived) of information architecture work will continue to grow, and before too long we'll start to see most large organizations putting together these rich teams of specialists.
In fact, we've already witnessed the beginnings of these niche roles in some of the most progressive organizations. We've worked with controlled vocabulary managers and indexing specialists at AT&T. We've seen strategy architects and interaction designers at Vanguard. And we've collaborated with thesaurus designers and search analysts at Hewlett-Packard.
Let's close this chapter with the immortal words of William Gibson: "The future is already here. It's just unevenly distributed."