Tulsa Development Online 2.0 must begin with a solid, well conceived information architecture road map.
Information Architecture is a distinct discipline of designing and organizing an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive access to content. It is the combination of organization, labeling, and navigation schemes within an information system. It is the art and science of structuring and classifying web sites and intranets to help people find and manage information.
Buildings are complex systems of habitable space, works of art, and a lasting alteration of the landscape. Dams hold back water, generate power for a city and create diverse ecosystems and recreational spaces. Airplanes are high tech machines that transport millions of lives around the world while seemingly defying gravity. Great music has the power to take us straight to a memorable place and reach our emotions over many lifetimes.
These creations don’t come about by accident. They aren’t the result of random, uncoordinated efforts. Great, consistent creations are the result of careful planning and design. Tested, well-documented principles combined with creative thought applied by trained, experienced people produces beautiful and enduring buildings, solid impoundments that tame raging rivers, safe and reliable air travel, and music that nourishes the soul.
Creating the kind of world-class online land development and planning tools envisioned by LandRules is a similarly complex effort. It can’t be done well by hiring designers to just dive in without proper concepts, planning, organizing and documentation.
To get where we want to go, we must have a clear road map. The results we get will only be as good as the effort put into planning and designing the information architecture framework.
The planning and thought that goes into information architecture creates clear value in the end product.
There is a cost when customers looking for land development information are frustrated. There is value in providing a resource that educates. It becomes a go-to resource for the general public and seasoned professionals.
It’s expensive to build a web site that will put Tulsa in the forefront of delivering online development services. It is even more expensive to build it again six months later because it doesn’t support findability or doesn’t scale.
There is additional cost associated with ensuring that designs don’t crumble over time as the people who maintain them add new content.
As a marketing tool, as well as an essential public resource, if customers don’t consistently get what they’re looking for, the value of the brand is diminished and perception of reliability and trust is damaged.
A proper information architecture design for this project is the foundation for a system of online resources that people with all levels of understanding and experience can access easily, navigate intuitively, and trust that they’ve arrived at a satisfactory understanding of planning and land development rules and processes relevant to their interests.
Information Architecture Resources:
Some of this article is taken from Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition, Designing Large Scale Websites, by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville. There is now a Third Edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web that includes emerging Web 2.0 technologies.
An industry organization with good information architecture resources: The Information Architecture Institute.
The Argus Center for Information Architecture created a directory of information architecture resources but the founding company is no longer in business and the directory is not maintained. This page still offers some useful resources.