Attention information architects: That IS your job

Christine Benson

Like many information architects, I come from a design background. That's why I am very familiar with the tasks and process involved with design. While I have always worked closely with writers throughout my career, I have never been a writer myself.

I know that in past lives I have made a terrible assumption. Working at Brain Traffic I have seen daily proof that I am not the only person to make this mistake. And while I have seen the light, this assumption still runs rampant thorough the industry.  I'm here to set the record straight.

Here it is ... ready?

It's the information architect's job to find the source content.

Many information architects and designers try to draw a parallel between writing and design. Finding and selecting the colors, fonts, images, etc., is an engaging and exciting part of creating a great visual design. Searching for or creating the source imagery is why many designers get up everyday and go to work. 

Conflicts often arise between information architects and designers when the interface is involved. It's understandable, then, that the IA might assume that writers don't want the IA to have anything to do with choosing the source content they'll use to write a website. Wrong.

The writer loves it when an IA points out the relevant source content so he or she can read it, decipher it, and consolidate it into a clear and useful message. They want to focus on the tone and voice of the content. They want to turn nonsense into plain language, often on a tight timeline.

With all respect to the design process, locating source content for every single page of a site is much more time-intensive than finding source assets for representational pages of visual comps. And, digging into the source content is something that should never be skipped when you're creating the architecture for a new site. From my experience, it's the only way to plan for a great site that has meaningful content on all of its pages.

So, make sure you know what source content will be used for every page on your site and document it for your writer. Your writer will thank you for it. Trust me.