What makes a great information architect (interview)

Presented at: UIE
Presentation date:

From the original article:

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Donna (Maurer) Spencer, a world-renowned information architect and owner of the freelance agency MaadMob, based in Canberra, Australia. For nearly 10 years, Donna has been a prominent player in the information architecture world, sharing her experiences for designing some of the most challenging clients around: large government sites.

For this interview, I asked Donna, “What separates good information architects from great information architects?”

Donna said that she believes that great IAs can think structurally, can synthesize many inputs at once, can work strategically, and can work in the smallest details. A good IA can get by doing these things very occasionally, or not at all. But, great IAs do all of these constantly, bringing more value to the project.

Over the years, Donna has come into contact with some diverse and multi-talented IAs. She noted that one thing they all have in common is they all do more than just information architecture. Donna told us how she keeps herself balanced by also practicing other user experience disciplines, such as interaction design.

Donna also suggested that perhaps the strongest skill the great information architect needs is people skills. It’s one thing to build a quality taxonomy or navigation system, but if you cannot interface with your own team or the client, you may find your usefulness diminishes greatly.

This was a great interview. We had a lot of fun making it and I’ll bet you’ll enjoy listening to it.

This October, Donna present a full-day workshop, “Information Architecture Essentials: Best Practices for Organizing Your Site’s Content”, at the User Interface 13 Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a great place to learn what it takes to become a great information architect.

We look forward to your questions and thoughts on this podcast. Do you agree with Donna about what it takes to become a great information architect? Is there anything she left out? Let us know what you think in the comments!