Information architecture has somewhat different meanings in different branches of IS or IT architecture. Most definitions have common qualities: a structural design of shared environments, methods of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, and online communities, and ways of bringing the principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
Example definitions include:
- The structural design of shared information environments.
- The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support findability and usability.
- An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
- The combination of organization, labeling, search and navigation systems within websites and intranets.
- An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
Debate The difficulty in establishing a common definition for "information architecture" arises partly from the term's existence in multiple fields. In the field of systems design, for example, information architecture is a component of enterprise architecture that deals with the information component when describing the structure of an enterprise. While the definition of information architecture is relatively well-established in the field of systems design, it is much more debatable within the context of online information systems (i.e., websites). Andrew Dillon refers to the latter as the "big IA-little IA debate".
A view, information architecture is essentially the application of information science to webdesign, which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval. In the big IA view, information architecture involves more than just the organization of a website; it also factors in user experience, thereby considering usability issues of information design.