Modeling Information Experiences: A Recipe for Consistent Architecture

Andrea Ames and Alyson Riley


How do you build consistent, high-quality information architectures over and over again, regardless of differences in context, product, audience, and enterprise? Develop a set of strong, abstract, conceptual models that address all aspects of the information architecture, then consistently and rigorously validate them with real-world data. IBM uses models to develop consistent information architectures across our business and the thousands of products that they produce and support.

The models include (a) the Use Model to describe user and product scenarios, (b) the Content Model to define the building blocks of information, (c) the Access Model to define navigation and wayfinding strategies between content elements, and (d) the overarching Information Model that puts it all together into consistent information deliverables. Join Alyson and Andrea to learn about this approach to abstract modeling, and take away pointers both for developing your own models and for applying the concepts of the IBM examples.

Presenter Biography

Andrea Ames is an information experience strategist/architect at IBM. Prior to IBM, Andrea was an information strategy, architecture, and usability consultant, helping large and small businesses to engineer their processes to develop information in ways that enhance usability, increase and accelerate user productivity, increase adoption and customer loyalty, and support business goals. Andrea has 25+ years of experience in technical communication. She is Fellow and past President (2004-2005) of STC, Distinguished Engineer of ACM (the first technical communicator to achieve this distinction), Senior Member of IEEE, and member of SWE, ASIS&T, IAI, UPA, and ATTW. Andrea designed, coordinates, and teaches in UCSC in Silicon Valley’s technical writing and communication program; published two award-winning technical books and more than 50 papers and articles; and speaks regularly at conferences and professional meetings around the world.

Alyson Riley's mother swears that her first word was actually a complete sentence, and she began her career as an information architect shortly thereafter by developing various organization and classification schemes for her plastic dinosaurs. She now works as a senior information architect and strategist on IBM's corporate information strategy team and has over 16 years experience in technical communication. Alyson serves as the corporate lead for IBM's information architecture council, drives IBM's corporate-level efforts to define the next generation of user experiences with technical content, chairs IBM's corporate customer council, and consults with IBM content teams worldwide to develop effective information strategies. Alyson has B.S. and M.S. degrees in scientific and technical communication from the University of Minnesota.