After doing several readings defining and explaining in detail what Information Architecture is all about, I couldn’t help notice some similarities and differences between Information Architecture and HCI (Human Computer Interaction). This interests me because I’m currently an HCI student and Information Architecture is an important component of the discipline but I have never had an in depth lesson on IA. For the purposes of this post I will be looking at Information Architecture and HCI as two separate disciplines.
One aspect that I found interesting was the value of the User. Both IA and HCI place high value on the user (person/persons who interacts with and uses the system or design). But I believe that HCI takes it a step further with the user being the very core of the experience. In an HCI practitioner’s perfect world, everything begins and ends with the user. Whereas in IA, the user is key but not the core. At least this is the current impression I have.
I also feel that IA has a more pragmatic approach. There is a lot of talk about stakeholders and business goals to be made into consideration. Maybe this is in part because IA in the digital space mainly refers to websites, which is a very specific domain to work in. In HCI, business goals and stakeholders are an important part of the process but are not discussed as often especially in the readings and educational settings. In my experience, I started placing a higher value on business goals and stakeholders’ needs after my internship. And during a conversation with a PHD HCI scholar who has never worked in business setting was surprised at the importance placed on business goals and stakeholder needs. Like I noted earlier IA has a more pragmatic approach while HCI has a more purist/philosophical approach especially in the educational setting.
These are some of the interesting observations that I have made thus far of Information Architecture. I don’t know if these assumptions are entirely true, and I am curious to see how these perceptions will evolve throughout the semester.
By Kudzai Chinyadza