Yes I am an information architect

Yes I am an information architect

Yesterday I received an email that at first made me a bit angry and then made me think.

So I thought I’d vent/share.

It came from a marketing consultant after I’d posted a wireframe I created using the amazing Balsamiq software. (It’s awesome—just try it.)

The email went something like this:

Just wondering what your involvement is on that? 

Found it strange that a copywriter was doing a wireframe, then got concerned you might be leading a website redo for them.

The wireframe mentioned was a first draft for my clients (the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care) who had hired me to help them re-architect their current site.

At first it got my hackles raised. How dare this person question my mad information architecture skills?

  • Didn’t I help plan the Marks and Spencer ecommerce website, one of the UK’s first major shopping portals, back in 1998?
  • Didn’t I spend years working with Commbank on their site structure while at Ogilvy?
  • Wasn’t I the producer who mapped out the ING DIRECT account management back end?
  • Didn’t I recently work on the architecture of both the RTA Live Traffic and Liberty Financial websites?
  • Aren’t I currently employed as Randwick Council’s information architect?

(I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point).
Let me tell you something: I was an information architect before the term even existed!

And as for the “website redo” comment, I built my first website back in 1997 and started my career as a digital producer in 1998. And since then I’ve probably led the “redo” on about 200 websites.

But then I took a deep breath and reconsidered.

I do call myself Kate Toon Copywriter. (It used to be ‘Web Guru’, but that sounded a bit… well, silly. So I changed it.)

Maybe the poor guy just made an easy mistake.

Jeez Kate, take a chill pill.

After all, I don’t shout about my awesome IA skills on my Home page. (But it’s there on my services list.)

Perhaps most people are of the opinion that you can only do one thing well.

“She calls herself a copywriter, so how can she market herself as an information architect as well?”
I’d argue that, while it’s good to specialise, there’s nothing wrong offering supplementary services. For me, what you say and how you say it, is closely linked to where it’s said.

IA is a natural flow on from copywriting, but yes you obviously need an in-depth understanding of best practice, industry guidelines and possibly web development.

So just for the record, yes I am an information architect.

And in case you don’t know what information architecture really is, it’s about structuring information for a specific purpose. You need to understand how websites work, integrate best practice usability, allow the users to find content quickly and ultimately make sure each visitor reaches the goals you’ve set.

So if you’re planning a website I can help you:

  • Review your competitors’ sites and provide recommendations
  • Learn about best practice design, copy, functionality and SEO
  • Identify your primary and secondary audiences
  • Understand your audiences needs and wants
  • Plan your content accordingly
  • Ensure optimal usability

And if you want to create a site that’s easy for your customers to use and ensures they convert when and how you want them to, I’m your gal.

I hope that clears things up.

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