Designing a website’s information architecture is a valuable skillset for any IT professional. Besides having the honor of mastering one of the most complex subjects in the field, understanding this skillset will help you build better websites and projects.
Information architecture wasn’t always a stand-alone function. When the Internet was still young, this responsibility was assigned to the webmaster. Now, as websites become more complex, many web teams need a dedicated individual to manage their site’s structure. The information architect not only thinks about what is on the site but also how the end user will interact with that information.
If you are looking to build well-organized, user-friendly websites, understanding information architecture is a definite prerequisite. Thankfully, there are many ways to do so online.
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Getting Started with Information Architecture
The Internet is an excellent learning tool with numerous opportunities to master new skills at little to no cost. For those new to information architecture or web design, online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, and Lynda offer self-paced classes taught by industry professionals and academia.
Your options include:
Learn the fundamentals of information architecture in this 2.5-hour video lecture. The course is offered by UX expert, Joe Natoli, and is appropriate for anyone interested in web design. The regular price of the class is $45 and includes a certificate of completion.
The subscription site, Lynda is a popular platform for IT professionals that want to update their skills. Acquired by the networking site, LinkedIn, Lynda classes are linked to your online profile demonstrating expertise in your newly learned skill. Their Information architecture course is also intended for beginners and is 2 hours long. Lynda subscriptions are $20-$30/month, but they include a free 10-day trial.
Coursera offers a 6 to 9-hour self-paced course on information design that includes the fundamentals of IA as well as instruction in typography, layout, and color. The course is taught by University of California at San Diego, associate professor Scott Klemmer and is part of their Interaction design specialization. Coursera charges $39/month for unlimited access to all courses in the specialization. However, they also offer financial aid, or you can audit the class for free.
Professional Certificates for those working in Information Architecture
Already know a little about web design, but need to add some in-depth knowledge on information architecture? A professional certificate might be the perfect solution. These programs are designed for professionals that work full time, already have experience in web design and are not interested in pursuing a graduate degree.
One of the best professional level courses in information architecture offered online is by The American Graphics Institute. To take the course, you must already be working as a business analyst, developer, in product management, or as an information architect. The course is part of a larger 84-hour UX certificate program. Although the one-day class is taught in person in Boston and Philadelphia, it is also offered online for $495.
Switching to Information Architecture
If you are looking for college degrees that can lead to a career in information architecture, there are a few options. Many information architects get their start with a degree in computer science and graphic design and some coursework in Business or Marketing. For a more tailored program, try these online options:
Bachelor’s online from Univ. of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin offers an entirely online Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Technology. The degree includes flexible instruction in information architecture, information science, storage and retrieval, information organization, and applications of the Internet.
Master’s online from San Jose State
San Jose State also offers an online-based degree program but at the master’s level. Their Master of Library and Information Science includes internships and customized learning in an entirely online environment. Degree recipients work in a variety of careers, including information architecture.
Regardless of the method you choose to learn more about information architecture, many of your options can be found online. For more information about information architecture as a career, start with this article.