Information Architect: Focusing on the Big Picture

Anyone who has ever attempted to piece together a complex jigsaw puzzle likely will tell you that they get through the painstaking process by focusing on the big picture — and that the completed image is worth it in the end.

The same could be said of an information architect’s job.

“Information architects are really active at the beginning of the project when we’re talking about what the big pieces [are],” said Brian Begy, managing partner of Chicago Data Solutions, a Web and database consulting firm.

As an example, Begy cited a recent project for Chicago Data Solutions that involved building a Web site capable of selling tickets.

“You go to the Web site, you sign up to go to a show, you punch your credit card number in, and then we need to generate a PDF of your ticket with a bar code on it,” he explained.

The information architect’s role in this case would be to look at the big picture and figure out how such a site would work. For instance, he may need to answer questions such as: What is the expense in terms of processor time to generate the PDF? Who should actually generate the PDF?

“Should it be the Web process request [so that] when the user clicks ‘go,’ the server says, ‘I’m going to respond; hold on for five seconds while I build this PDF’? Or should it be some other process that runs on a separate thread?” Begy said. “[It’s]…


Deanna Hartley

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