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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville

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High-Level Architecture Blueprints

The collaborative brainstorming process is exciting, chaotic, and fun. However, sooner or later, you must hole up away from the crowd and transform this chaos into order. Blueprints are the architect’s tool of choice for performing this transformation.

The very act of shaping ideas into the more formal structure of a blueprint forces you to become realistic and practical. If brainstorming takes you to the top of the mountain, blueprinting brings you back down to reality. Ideas that seemed brilliant on the white board may not pan out when you attempt to organize them in a practical manner. It’s easy to throw around concepts such as audience-specific gateways and adaptive information architectures. It’s not so easy to define on paper exactly how these concepts will be applied to a specific web site.

During the conceptual design phase, high-level blueprints are most useful for exploring primary organization schemes and approaches. High-level blueprints map out the organization and labeling of major areas, usually beginning with a bird’s-eye view from the main page of the web site. This exploration may involve several iterations as you further define the information architecture. High-level blueprints are great for stimulating discussions focused on the organization and management of content as well as the desired access pathways for users. These blueprints can be created by hand, but we prefer to use diagramming software such as Visio or NetObjects ...

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