Information Architect

An information architect title means different things to different people. To me, an information architect's role is very similar to that of a software architect.

An information architect

  • makes high level decisions on, or develops, the framework that that a user assistance team uses for developing content;
  • creates, designs, and manages changes to the information model;
  • is aware of, and, where possible, works with other systems in the broader environment;
  • understands the integrations between the pieces of information;
  • mentors and instructs other contributors

While every item in that list is important, the last is often the key to a successful long term project. Far too often projects succeed when they are being actively guided, but fail when the architect's focus changes to another project. That failure is rarely due to technical issues, it's usually due to the architect being the only source of knowledge, and once that source is gone, the project flounders.

During the last six years I have accomplished all of these tasks while working at salesforce.com. I moved the team off of unstructured FrameMaker into DITA. I moved the team from manual builds, full of errors, to automated, repeatable builds with functional tests. I created, and implemented, all the visual designs for all of our documentation. I have also shared my knowledge with the team, teaching individuals in structure writing and DITA.

While I have been working with DITA for the last 6 years, I believe it's important that an information architecture is not tied to a particular model. Each project is a new one, and one size never truly fits all.