UX visualized as an iceberg

Teacher Response to Homework #3: Info Arch Your Content

Business Keeping

Grades on Canvas.

Content strategy and info architecture are misunderstood… and very profitable

Think about it: the Web is still primarily textual information. It needs to be organized, edited, channelled, delivered. This is very hard work that few people are suited for. How much bad, poorly organized content do you experience online on a daily basis? How much of it is useful to you? How much of it is what you were looking for when you searched for it or clicked on its headline?

According to the “Complete Beginners Guide to Information Architecture,” the scope of practice of an information architect is someone that helps others “understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for, in the real world as well as online”. Information architects are often some mixture of designer and content strategist. Generally, an information architect provides “research, navigation creation, wireframing, labeling, and data modeling” for the organization they’re working for. – Meghan

This is a golden age for writers, in other words: people who understand written content and its importance for users of all kinds. There’s a reason that an entire institute was recently formed on this subject: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/. Even marketers now have to be good writers.

Mental model: When you subconsciously reference part of a large internal map of what you know. Other people can’t see the map as it only exists in your head. When we face a problem, we reference our mental model. We try to organize the aspects and complexities of what we see into recognizable patterns. Our ongoing experiences change our mental models. Objects allow us to compare our mental models with each other. – Sarah

This is also good news for us, the humanities majors! We were all born and raised on the written word. Designers are a dime a dozen nowadays, largely because of the prevalence of open source Content Management Systems like WordPress (which currently accounts for a whopping 35% of all registered web domains). These technologies are making it increasingly hard to sell your ability simply to make one website. Why pay someone to do that, when you can buy an entire CMS that allows you to make unlimited websites… for nothing?

Being a “web designer” now means being a developer which is something else entirely. Gone are the days when you could get by knowing HTML and CSS. Now you need to be a programmer. You have to master boolean logic, which, let me tell you: is tough.

But no one has yet created a content engine capable of replacing human writers. They’ve tried, but failed. Which is probably why fields like technical communication, UX, and content strategy are set to grow by leaps and bounds over the next decade or so. The needs for humanities-style thinking isn’t going away, despite what every pundit who has access to a microphone is saying. We just don’t understand where to send our graduates for jobs or what to call our majors (though TPC is a pretty good name ;-).

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