Episode 126 of The Informed Life podcast features a conversation with Nate Davis. Nate is an independent information architecture consultant and a longtime contributor to the global IA community. In this conversation, we discuss his ideas about IA sub-disciplines that influence the construction of digital user interfaces.

The conversation was triggered by an essay Nate shared on LinkedIn titled Four Information Architecture Disciplines Every Team Should Consider When Building Digital User Interfaces. The four disciplines are:

  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Operations

As you might expect, these terms aren’t used here in their common senses. Nate unpacked them during our interview, explaining how they can help teams architect information. Nate pointed out that the ultimate goal is alignment:

We’re all really concerned with… understanding how to facilitate shared understanding. And there’s a lot there, but what does that mean, right? Getting to get not just one person… how do you get a hundred people aligned or how to get a million people aligned around something; some intention or some goal? But also, how do you facilitate shared alignment?

I’m trying to help some large enterprises sustain shared understanding in alignment with conceptual clarity.

I reflected these ideas back with the following sentence, which feels like a good overview of IA’s objectives: clarity and order in service to shared understanding at scale. (Nate quibbled with the idea that it must be in service to doing this at scale, which I can get on board with.)

As I mentioned during the intro, I’d known Nate for a long time but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to talk shop with him in depth. I was glad to have the opportunity to correct that oversight; I hope you get as much value from our conversation as I did.

The Informed Life episode 126: Nate Davis on IA Sub-disciplines