communication graphics

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Attributes. Pieces of information about a content object. Atrributes include tags, metatags, and fields.


Bottom-up information architecture. Design emphasizing smaller components of a site based on an understanding of both the content and the tools available to navigate that content (e.g. searches, indexes).

Browsing. The process of following paths through a site, resulting in the acquisition of specific content objects. The three common types of browsing include hierarchical (following the primary path through a site), supplemental (accessing additional views of the site), and contextual (access through related content objects in the site).

Building Blocks.  The attributes and attribute values of a bottom-up information architecture.


Content. Information collected and contained in a content object.

Content area. Collected content objects that share a grouping method (e.g. the largest section of a web page).

Content management. The rules, roles, and resources combined to create, evaluate, collect, publish, maintain, and house content for a site.

Controlled vocabulary. A collection of useful terms used to facilitate precise content retrieval. (back to top)


Granularity. The level of depth of a content object within a site’s architecture. The coarser the granularity, the higher the content object will be in the site’s hierarchy. The finer the granularity, the deeper the object will be within the hierarchy.  

Grouping method. The  process of collecting content objects based on a rule of organization.


Hierarchy. The various levels of depth within a site, beginning with a main page (portal) and extending down to content objects with the finest granularity.


Index. A content object reflecting a clear grouping method. It can be used to direct users to content objects with similar attributes.

Indexing. The process of assigning content objects with specific attribute values.

Information. Anything that can be stored or acquired.

Information architecture. The art and science of organizing information.

Information science. An interdisciplinary science primarily concerned with the collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information

Information retrieval. The study of systems for indexing, finding, and recalling content. (back to top)


Knowledge. That which is known.


Labeling. The systematic approach of applying appropriate descriptive terms to content objects. 


Navigating. The process of interacting with a site to fulfill information needs.

Navigational elements. The page-level pieces of a site’ interface. These elements allow a user to browse hierarchically through content areas.


Organizing. The process grouping and labeling content.


Portal. A site designed specifically as a pathway to all-encompassing content for a particular audience.  


Searching. The process of entering terms into a system resulting in a specific selection of content objects with similar attributes.

Site. A collection of content objects allowing users to navigate, search, and browse. 

Site-map. A graphical representation of the levels of a site’s hierarchy. (back to top)


Table of contents. A textual representation of the levels of a site’s hierarchy.

Tagging. See: indexing.

Tags. See: attributes. 

Top-down information architecture. Designing a site from the main gateway to secondary levels and downward. This entails determining the scope of the site in order to create site maps, page mock-ups, and blueprints of various content areas.


Usability. A site's relative ease of use.

User. A visitor to a website.

User investigation. The process of analyzing user populations and user needs. User investigation is critical in IA because it forces users’ needs to be addressed in the design.


Validation. The process of analyzing the indexing criteria. This includes checking attribute values for accuracy and consistency.   (back to top)