I specialize in what I consider the three pillars of IA:
I create definitive structural descriptions of the content a site has, identifying the needed content objects, metadata, calls-to-action, and relationships between them, letting you think about your content in a structured, strategic way and making it possible to implement a more modular, analytics-driven experience.
I define the main structure or hierarchy you want to present to the user as navigation, showing the primary pathways they could follow, the one-off pages that should be available to them, and how a site map or top nav should be structured, letting you decide how you are going to introduce users to your content.
I identify the taxonomies and metadata that are needed to support the experience we know you need. It goes beyond the end user experience, though, to capture how we’re going to make this happen, technically and operationally, as well. It’s where we make sure that this experience is supported, and you know what it’s going to take to keep it that way.
I also care about the UX base you need to get this right:
And realizing an information strategy:
I've been enjoying listening to ProPublica's podcast, The Breakthrough, recently, because it focuses as much on how journalists get their big stories, and how they work on them, as much as the stories themselves. I'm always on the lookout for lessons and tips for how to improve the UX/IA process, and the journalist Cora Currier has a great aside in the recent episode about secret FBI rule books: "I found often that coming at it from a bureaucratic angle was helpful, like asking 'What about that, when you had to get approval?' [You can] just get someone off on a tirade about their least favorite supervisor or something. When you talk to people about office politics, [it's] often a way to get in and get talking about substantive things as well." This is a great lesson for the discovery process and user research. What can you ask first, to get somebody talking? Oftentimes, the best way to get the information you need is oblique, rather than direct. Later in the interview, she observes: "When you're deep, deep, deep in a project like this, you start to think th<><>[...]
“There are two kinds of knowledge, local and universal.” Urged by my husband, who reads her catalogue more or less continuously, I recently read Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula K. Le Guin (b. October 21, 1929) for the first time. She always takes science fiction beyond its cliches, and this collection of four short stories is thought-provoking, beautiful, and at times, brutal. In "A Man of the People," the protagonist contemplates the possibility of societal change in a world in he is assigned to observe. Called to be an emissary of progress, and change by the women of the world, he realizes: You can't change anything from the outside in. Standing apart, looking down, taking the overview, you see pattern. What's wrong, what's missing. You want to fix it. But you can't patch it. You have to be in it, weaving it. You have to be part of the weaving. In my work, I am usually called to stand apart, to look down and take the overview of other people's behavior. Being able to see the patterns that most people are too close to is impor<><><><>[...]