When we call the field of architecture to mind, we often imagine the slanted desks and precise drawing tools employed by architects to create their distinctive designs. The most central component of the modern concept of architecture, however, lies with the blueprint itself; while those outside of the profession may view it as a kind of incomplete picture, specialists see the blueprint as an all-inclusive whole, describing all the necessary components of a design, upon which a building can be soundly and attractively created. Bringing this concept to the world of web design has been part of the evolution of the human relationship with form and function, and has begun to heavily influence the way we see and use the internet.
The term information architecture itself was first described by architect Richard Saul Wurman in 1975. Wurman saw the potential for data to be carefully and intelligently structured in a manner similar to the foundational elements of a physical structure, and played a key role in bringing this concept to the digital platform. Today, information architecture is a hot topic online and is used for search engine optimization, document creation, and many other applications in the course of developing business and personal interests in the digital medium. As with its use in SEO and documents, information architecture applied to web design is still being developed and experimented with as web designers strive to achieve meaningful results that go beyond the superficial elements of a site’s overt appearance.
Principles of traditional architecture and design are able to transform the way in which information is structured; these principles apply basic concepts central to the crafting of beautiful images and appealing, structurally sound buildings to things such as library and content management systems, online communities based around forums or user groups, and database development. Just as it is essential to quality, dynamic code to build functionality with consistency and an attention to the rules of syntax, the organization and arrangement of websites and their individual elements is served well by approaching projects as though they were physical objects requiring stability and sense.
The effects of information architecture on the developing and evolving scene of online design can be seen around nearly every corner of the web. Like the famous, gleaming bridges that traverse the waterways of Austin Texas, San Francisco California, and New York City, online giants like social media hub Facebook and popular tech blog Engadget rely on sound information architecture to serve traffic with usability and accessibility, not to mention design, that makes sense and which can adapt to changes in the long term. Whether riding with the top down in Austin Tx, coasting along the foggy shores of SFO, or taking in technology at Engadget, some of life’s most pleasant experiences rely on the beauty and reason of a tool we’ve been using for millennia: architecture, a discipline that has grown to transcend the blueprint.