World IA Day 2020: history, resources and tools

A quick guide to help you navigate (and celebrate) this year’s World Information Architecture Day.

The 22nd February is an important day in the user experience and design industry: it’s the day we celebrate World Information Architecture Day, and when experts around the globe come together to organise their own events according to one topic.

In 2020, this topic is ‘The IA Element’ that ties the past, present and future of the field — especially important following the dissolution of the Institute of Information Architecture (IAI) in 2019.

The date is going to be celebrated with multiple events across 61 countries:

Although Bristol (where People for Research are based) is not hosting one of these events, our team is marking the occasion in a different way. We looked around the web to find the best resources for all the Information Architects out there.

Let’s start with history for the beginners (and maybe some veterans)

  • The History of Information Architecture, by Garenne Bigby (via Dyno Mapper)

And a short list of some of the best IA books.

  1. The classic Information Architects by Richard Saul Wurman
  2. How to make sense of any mess by Abby Covert
  3. A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer
  4. Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati
  5. Another classic by Richard Saul Wurman — Information Anxiety
  6. Designing Connected Content by Carrie Hane and Mike Atherton
  7. Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture by Andrew Hinton
  8. Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
  9. Jim Kalbach’s Mapping Experiences: A Complete Guide to Creating Value Through Journeys, Blueprints, and Diagrams
  10. And, finally, Visual Explanations (again) by Edward Tufte

Of course, the list could go on and on, but we’ll stick to this top ten for now.

Next, a list of IA tools

  • OmniGraffle
    ✔️ Generates stunning graphics.
    ❌ Only suitable for Mac.
  • Microsoft Visio
    ✔️ Collaborative tool with pre-made templates and 250,000 included.
    ❌ Not very user-friendly for first-time users.
  • FlowMapp
    ✔️ Not only can you create sitemaps, but you can also build user flows, create personas, and manage content.
    ❌ Not the best option to create complex or customised flows.
  • Powermapper
    ✔️ Map, test, and analyse your website in more than 50 different countries.
    ❌ Some users complain about this tool not being able to handle big websites with thousands of pages.
  • Dyno Mapper
    ✔️ Create customised and interactive sitemaps, audit your content and track keywords.
    ❌ We couldn’t find strong cons against using this tool!
  • Smartdraw
    ✔️ An affordable option with free support and thousands of different templates.
    ❌ Regular version of the software can only be used in Windows.
  • StickySorter
    ✔️ A free tool for sorting lists of contents into groups.
    ❌ Requires Windows XP or Vista.
  • xSort
    ✔️ Create and group various content listings using 3×5 index cards on a table theme.
    ❌ Exclusive for Mac.
  • Slickplan
    ✔️ Multiple users can edit sitemaps simultaneously and there’s a chat function to facilitate collaboration.
    ❌ No flexibility when it comes to the size and shape of the page elements.

Do you know any other tools worth listing? Let us know!

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