semantics_peterphoto.jpgDuring this past week I was able to attend uxWeek in Lisbon, and while I was there knowing that it was a paid workshop, I decided to ask on Twitter if someone, that couldn’t make it, would like to pose any question to Peter Morville which was running the workshops and was available and happy to reply to them.

1. Who is Peter Morville?

PM: My main claim to fame is as co-author of the polar bear book on Information Architecture. Through writing, presenting, and consulting, I helped to establish the field of information architecture during the 1990s. If you’d like to learn more, here’s my biography.

2. How do you define Information Architecture?

PM: When I explain what I do to my mom, I tell her that I organize web sites so people can find what they need. Of course, that’s a very simple definition, but it works. Here are a few more sophisticated definitions:

  1. The structural design of shared information environments.
  2. The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems within web sites and intranets.
  3. The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability.
  4. An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

3. What are in your view the main barriers stopping a mass adoption of good information architecture?

PM: The main barrier is ignorance about both user experience and information
architecture. First, executives, designers, and developers must understand the importance of designing for and with users, and doing user research and usability testing. Second, information architecture practices can provide the tools and framework for creating good user experiences.

4. Could you explain to us briefly what Findability means?

PM: Findability is a useful term for stretching people to think across traditional boundaries. We can design the search and navigation systems of our web sites to support better findability, to help people find their way more effectively. But, we can also consider the ways to make our products, services, and information more findable via search engines. It’s useful to think about individual documents or applications as findable objects and ask about all the ways someone might find that object, and how we could make it more findable.

5. What’s your thoughts on localization in the context of Information Architecture? Should we proceed with a deep localization approach or simply consider localization as a matter of translating a good universal design?

PM: It’s always a bad idea to ask someone from the US about localization 🙂 My understanding is that translation of an information architecture is not enough. It’s not just about language. Different cultures have very different ways of organizing, different mental models, so ideally a deep localization approach is needed. But I have very little experience with this topic.

6. Some Key Links on IA and Findability?

PM: The Information Architecture Institute is a great place to start. You can learn and even better, you can join and get involved with the community. Also, I recommend the IA Summit and Euro IA. Finally, you can read my Semantics
articles and my blog.

7. Most important steps taken in the last 3 years in information filtering / semantic web

PM: A big step forward in the last several years has been faceted navigation.
It’s tremendously useful for helping people filter or narrow while
searching. You can read more about this topic and see examples in my search patterns library.

8. Important Steps in the future of IA?

PM: There are some exciting new challenges. For instance, we’re only just beginning to design good solutions for mobile devices, and we have yet to fully embrace the need to design consistent user experiences across multiple channels or platforms in both physical and digital environments. That said, most of the world still doesn’t know anything about IA, so basic education will be a continuing opportunity and responsibility.

Note: If you’d like to discuss any of them with him, Peter can be contacted via his blog or his company, Semantic Studies website.