HighEdWeb Assocation
The Annual Conference for Higher Education Web Professionals, Austin, Texas, October 23-26, 2011

Session Details

The Politics of Doing #IA for #HighEd

APS9 Applications and Standards Track

Hill Country C & D


Information architecture is how we organize and label content and navigation for large websites. In an ideal world, planning the information architecture is a lot like designing and building a designer kitchen for a newly-constructed home. But let's face it, in Higher Education our house is usually pretty old, the major appliances don't match, and nobody can agree on which drawer to put the silverware in.Best practices in information architecture don't necessarily prepare us for the inevitable semantic political battles regarding organization, labeling, and navigation. We work for large, bureaucratic organizations with complex and illogical organizational structures that our users may never understand. We deal with eccentric and sometimes unknowladgeable individuals. Given this reality, how are we supposed to organize large amounts of content, create common vocabularies, and advocate for consistent labeling in order to produce a positive user experience?I will cover basic information architecture principles and elaborate on how these are usually applied to higher education websites. Then I will offer some tips and tricks on how you can measure user engagement in order to better inform you and other campus decision makers about what's working and why. Finally we'll open the discussion to how we can adapt what's best into what works for our own institutions. Ultimately, a successful information architect in higher education is one who can successfully collaborate with campus leaders and navigate through university politics.