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"Information architecture" is an awkward name for a profession that is still new and dynamic. We "information architects" still can't agree on what we all do, or even what to call ourselves.

Here's a list of what info architects do (from

What we call ourselves: Because of our diverse work and academic origins, we have titles such as information designer, usability engineer, content specialist, experience architect, user experience designer, etc. I thought someone had created a list of titles. Tell me where it is.

How much we make:

  •'s salary survey (May 27, 2001) of 1,078 user experience professionals.
  • From salary range and chart for specific job, includes job description. The closest job descriptions I could find were for Interface Designer, Sr. Interface Designer (San Francisco), and Interface Design Director.

Some examples (admittedly, Bay Area-centric) of individuals who are in the business of information architecture, in some form or another.

Aaron Marcus and Associates [ ]: Excellent East Bay co. dedicated to information/interface design. Seem to be focusing their efforts these days on mobile devices and applications.

Adaptive Path [ ]: Started in 2001 by a group of younger web-oriented IAs, including Peter Merholz, Jeff Veen, and Jesse James Garrett, this consultancy looks like a hipper version of the Nielsen Norman Group. I think.

Argus Associates [ ]: Suddenly and unexpectedly closed Mar 15, 2001. Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville, the founders, will continue to support Argus Center for Information Architecture (ACIA), the IA community group they created.

Carbon IQ [ ]: Noel Franus, Gabe Zentall and Christina Wodtke are "designing positive human experiences."

Creative Good [ ]: Led by Mark Hurst, this company's mission is to "improve the online customer experience." I'm thankful for the experience of meeting, working and hanging out with Mark.

Dariane Hunt []: Designer of Tufte's website. I'm intrigued by Hunt's website because it is organized and presented in four clearly different ways. This unique approach provides a clear idea of how the design of information can result in very different experiences and interactions with the information.

Draft Six Experience Design [ ]: John Lascurettes and David Crumrine founded this latest addition (launched Apr 17, 2001) to the new crop of user experience consultancies.

Drue Miller [ ]: The indomitable Ms Miller (whom I've also had the pleasure of working with at vivid) wows with her information design, teaching, pontificating, and scathing wit.

Dynamic Diagrams [ ]: "Consultants in Visual Logic," this Rhode Island-based firm is perhaps best-known for their isometric site maps, but provides the whole range of IA services. They were acquired by ingenta, a UK "global research gateway," in Oct 2000 but appear to be maintaining autonomy.

Edward Tufte []: The patron saint of information design. No more needs to be said.

HannaHodge []: "User Experience Architects" out of Chicago.

Nathan Shedroff [ ]: Nathan worked with RSW on several projects before branching out on his own with books, CD-ROMs and other multimedia products, and, ultimately, the web. His latest book, "Experience Design", is due out in April 2001. I'm glad I had the privilege of working with Nathan at vivid studios.

Nielsen Norman Group [ ]: Created by the partnership between usability gurus Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman, this consultancy recently added Bruce Tognazzini (Mac interface daddy). They're also in the middle of the world's first usability roadshow (I call it the Nielsen Norman Traveling Circus).

Richard Saul Wurman [ ]: Coined the terms "information anxiety" and "information architect." Author of information design classics such as Information Anxiety and the Access Guides, RSW is also the originator and ringmaster of the elite TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences.

Siegelgale [] (Flash 4 required): "Specializes in simplifying complex information for business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications." Interesting in that they distinguish between information architects and information designers in this way: information architects work on online stuff, and information designers work on mostly print stuff (forms, instructional manuals, legal docs etc.).

User Interface Engineering [ ]: Jared Spool and gang.

Xplane [ ]: "The visual thinking company."


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© 2001 Chris Tung