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Do they just create site navigations? Or do they have do to more? If so, what are the most important tasks an information architect has to do?

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What Information Architecture is and what an Information Architect does/did are different.

Information Architecture is the creation of navigational and meta data structures that affect the end experience, as mentioned in the previous answer.

In reality an IA deals not only with information but also functionality. In my past role as an Information Architect I did all the tasks I now do under the title User Experience Architect or User Experience Designer.

In short an IA will do more than just create site structures. There are still IA tasks that a good UX person will handle and a knowledge of Information Architecture is vital unless you are a interaction/visual designer who is just working under the banner of UX. Any UX person working beyond microsites should, in my view, be a capable IA.

For example if you've no knowledge of faceted navigation, controlled vocabulary and then it's worth reading up more on IA.

The recommended book on the subject is the classic 'polar bear' book. Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites

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  • I really appreciate the details and book recommendation. Thank you. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 9:20
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Information architects' tasks are:
Mandatory

  • create information categorization/classification
  • create site navigation

Optional, migrated from content-editor role

  • define content specification
  • assess current content
  • create new content and metadata

Frequently in a team there is not separate information architect's position, so this role is taken by UX designer.

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  • For the mandatory tasks, I would use create and maintain instead of just create.
    – SuperFluxx
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 6:09
  • And instead of the wording "site navigation" I'd go for "navigational structure" or something as broad as that.
    – Dirk v B
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 6:11
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    "create new content" -- this was surprising. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 6:34
  • You've described what Information Architecture is - not what an Information Architect does - which is rarely the same thing. Before User Experience became popular Information Architects did the same role as UX architects / designers and often still do. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 9:06
  • @StupendousMan We are not in ideal world, the roles are frequently mixed, so content matters could be assigned to one person. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 9:30

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