In Pursuit of Clarity: The Basic Function of Information Architecture

“The business function of information architecture is to simplify how people navigate and use information that connects to the Web.” – DSIA Research Initiative

The following summary is intended for a general audience.
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Information architects and other individuals who are responsible for information architecture must address a core functional need within today’s environment of information use and management across distributed networks—such as the internet or a private intranet. By creating strategies that simplify how people navigate and use information, businesses will realize greater value and sustainability in the relevancy of information as an asset. 

The following table offers an explanation of the main concepts mentioned in the DSIA official summary for information architecture as a business function. It is intended to be used as a reference for understanding high-level IA objectives.

ConceptIA ObjectivePerspective
SimplifyPush for an intuitive solutionThis is a shared goal that resonates for all user experience design practitioners. User experience design is rooted in the cross-disciplinary study of human-computer interaction (HCI) and the widely practiced design philosophy of user-centered design.
HowExplore ways to organize and create useful relationships between informationCreating logical classification schemes and useful semantic and contextual informational relationships—that accommodate user goals and behavior—are ways in which the IA business function can be used to improve the value of information technology.
PeopleUnderstand that people are multi-dimensional and that their full experience extends beyond a target user interfaceUsers are people first.The function of information architecture includes probing the widest possible context of human perspectives and behaviors that may impact an IA strategy. For example, language and a person’s perspective are common factors that should be considered.This does not mean that information architecture includes performing linguistic analysis, ethnographic research and usability testing. But, it does mean that an IA solution must ask questions that are informed by individuals responsible for these areas of interest.
NavigateProvide the primary pathways within a user interface that enable a person to achieve their goalsAs information in any given domain grows, specific items will become more difficult to discover. The pathways that are offered to a user must appear natural, be efficient and remain engaging. 
and…
UseAccommodate the requirements for information flexibilityInformation should be formatted to be as flexible as possible. As a result, the functional responsibility of information architecture includes probing a broad range of questions that may require the insights of individuals that author business rules, marketing, communications, systems, etc.
InformationFrame a sound perspective about the nature of information and its attributesThe information architecture function must continually probe to understand the nature of information as it applies to the business or people it serves. This suggests that research is a vital part of the functional activities of information architecture.
Observing online usage patterns and trends to verify the effectiveness of an IA solution are examples that help build sound perspectives about the information in a particular environment.
that…
ConnectsThe information we consume is not static like a physical page in a book. It lives, in static as well as emerging states on servers and client hosts, and is delivered upon request to computing interfaces of an unlimited range of devices. This distributed environment, in the domain of information technology, raises new challenges in communication, and in the display and sharing of information.
to the..
WebThe Web is what partly distinguishes the interests of information architecture from traditional practices of physical organization, use and management of information artifacts.