Exercise 1 – Introduction to Information Architecture

1.What is information? Describe the qualities of information

Information is the knowledge shared or received to provide a context with meaning. Information can augment understanding and decision making whilst decreasing the uncertainty of a particular subject matter.

The qualities of information;

  • Accurate – information should be fair and impartial. Accurate information should not have errors (grammatical/arithmetical).
  • Complete – requires all the necessary components of information such as facts and figures
  • Cost-beneficial – Information is value adding through decision making, thus information benefits should exceed the costs of implementation for it to be considered
  • User targeted – information should be conveyed and communicated in the appropriate context (format, detail, language, style) to address the needs of its users
  • Relevant – information should be appropriate and communicated to the right person/s
  • Authoritative – information should be credible and obtained from reliable sources
  • Timely – information should be distributed on time to ensure decision makers have sufficient time to make informed decisions
  • Easy to use – information should be understandable and easy to construe by users

 2. What is the Dewey Decimal System? Describe how it operates

The Dewey Decimal System is a numerical system which organises and caters to the perpetual growth of books in a library. The Dewey Decimal System employs a 3 digit sequence (000, 100, 200, 300, 400, 5500, 600, 700, 800 and 900) to categorise books in relation to their subjects. Fractional decimals are used for expansions or sub-sections of these classes. After the 3 digit sequence and the expansion decimals, the Dewey Decimal System consists of 3 letters which correspond to the author of the book. This is all categorised in numerical order first, than in alphabetical order based on the 3 letter author sequence.

3. What is information architecture?

Information architecture (IA) focuses on the structuring, organising and labelling of content to ensure it is delivered in an effective and understandable manner.


 4. List and describe at least three reasons for why information architecture is important (i.e., the return on investment for hiring an information architect)

  • Reduction costs – it reduces the cost of finding information. IA principle of systematic structures and labelling greatly diminishes the time required to search and resources needed to make these searches.
  • Construction costs – by applying the IA principles to design a system, the user can detect early potential issues before it becomes too expensive.
  • Maintenance costs – applying the IA principles will ensure that maintenance costs are at a low. Ensuring that resources, staff and time taken to support maintenance will be greatly reduced.

 5. List and describe the three main information architecture systems that support a web site

  • Searching systems – designed to search for information on websites
  • Navigation systems – refers top navigation through the website to maximise the useability of the interface
  • Semantic networks – represents semantic (language) relations between concepts

 6. List and describe the four main information architecture deliverables

  • Wireframes – a 2D architectural design made from basic line drawings
  • Blueprints – represents the relationship between pages and content
  • Controlled Vocabularies – a authorised list of terms used for indexing
  • Metadata Schema – used to catalogue records for a document

 7. Describe what is meant by the term “information ecology”
Information ecology defines the relationship between users, content and context in a independent environment

 8. What is metadata and how is it used in information architecture
Metadata is descriptive data that provides additional information or content regarding other data. Metadata can be used efficiently for users to search for content based on grouped data. Metadata is effective in the retrieval and discovery of content on a webpage.

9. Explain why the “Too-Simple” information model is unrealistic for modelling users’ information seeking behaviours

10. Describe the four common information needs, and provide an example that illustrates each of them

  • Exhaustive research – the user explores all available content and resources
  • Known-item seeking – the user knows what they’re looking for, where to locate it and how to find it
  • Re-finding – the user is searching for things they have seen before
  • Exploratory seeking – the user has a vague idea of the context, however are unable to clearly articulate it. The user is able to identify and recognise when they have found the right information, however will not know if the information gathered will be suffice

 11. Describe how a web site user typically finds information
Web site users typically find information through a combination of the following efforts, searching, browsing or asking

 12. What is the Berry Picking Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Berry Picking Model
The Berry Picking Model induces the user to constantly change to new leads as each new piece of information garnered, generates new ideas and references. These new conceptions of queries are modified during each search, as well as the search terms used. The result of the Berry Picking Model is not satisfied by a single query/source, however by a series/selection of individual queries garnered from different sources. This can otherwise be described as “Berry Picking” for answers, whereby the user obtains the relevant pieces of information from various sources.

 13. What is the Pearl Growing Model? Give an example of how you might search for a topic using the Pearl Growing Model
The Pearl Growing Model involves the user starting with a single document in hopes to find more information. This search “grows” as the user aims to locate documents with similar context to the initial document. An example of this is when the user enters “NBA” into Google, and subsequently enters “similar pages” to find content relating to the NBA. In turn, by employing this method and these principles, the user is accumulating information relating to the source they started with.

14. Explain what search analytics is and how it helps you learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours.
Search analytics centres around the users search data to help clarify and monitor the users interactions and behaviour during the duration of their perusal. Search data conveys what users seek and in turn can be helpful in informing the user of the search related problems, navigational or content problems they may be facing.

 15. Explain what contextual inquiry is and how it helps you learn more about information needs and information seeking behaviours
Contextual inquiry is a technique orchestrated by a researcher/facilitator, whereby they ask a series of questions to the user. The user is then observed in their natural environment for the conductor to observe the way they interact and navigate through information.


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