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Special issue No. 41 “Information Architecture: a useful and operational concept?”

Coordinated by: Ghislaine Chartron (DICEN, CNAM-INTD), Stéphane Chaudiron (GERiiCO, University of Lille 3) and Madjid Ihadjadene (Paragraphe, University of Paris 8).

In 1976, graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman introduced the concept of “Information architecture” in response to the ever-increasing quantity of information produced and exchanged in contemporary society : « I thought the explosion of data needed an architecture, needed a series of systems, needed systemic design, a series of performance criteria to measure it ». In 1986, James C. Brancheau and James C. Wetherbe published “Information architectures : Methods and practice” in the journal Information Processing & Management. The authors use the concept to refer to a profile of corporate information categories, used to assess organizational information needs. In 1996, Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville published “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” and became the pioneers in the field of organizing information in websites, intranets and software applications to help users fulfill their needs.

The concepts of information architecture and information architect are therefore not new. These concepts have been modified and adapted over the past several decades, and today there is renewed interest in the field of information architecture, especially in North America, where information architects have created an association, the IA Institute (IAI). In information architecture, three types of competencies seem to stand out: technical design, content organization and web design, which has been particularly emphasized in recent years.

By analogy with the physical architecture of buildings designed in the real world, information architecture concerns the spatial and temporal organization of information, content structuring, content interaction design and information design. Information architecture thus refers to the underlying organizational structure of a content system (text, image, video). Information architecture, while primarily used in web-based systems, can be applied to any complex informational ecosystem, in particular mobile devices such as smartphones, e-books, video games or serious games. The issue of information architecture has also been raised within the area of digital humanities, particularly with regard to digital art and culture, digital museography, the representation and staging of archeological objects…

Any information system conceived as a form of knowledge mediation raises the question of information architecture, which revolves around several main elements: systems of representation and storage, content representation methods (metadata, visual representations…), information access tools and interfaces (catalogs, bibliographic tools, browsing, search functions…) and processing functions.

Information architecture can be considered from a wide variety of perspectives (visualization, computer programming, ergonomics, semiotics, linguistics, etc.) but the particularity of the Information-Communication Science approach is its holistic view of these approaches. This special issue of Etudes de Communication aims to address the operational dimension of the concept of “information architecture”. More than a presentation of design methods and their results, this issue seeks to analyze the scientific relevance of the concept of information architecture, in a critical perspective.

We solicit proposals in the following areas:

  • The theoretical foundations of information architecture,

  • Information architecture methods and techniques,

  • Cultural issues in information architecture,

  • Development of information architecture in organizations,

  • Differentiated architecture design for different media (websites, mobile devices, graphic tablets…),

  • Digital content structuring and editing and content strategies,

  • Organization, representation and mediation of information content,

  • Interface design and information design (conception, contextualization, evaluation, appropriation),

  • Information access, “findability”, “usability”

  • User experience,

  • Information architecture and cognitive transformations,

  • User-centered conception and evaluation methods

Scientific committee

Inge Alberts, Université d'Ottawa, Canada

Thierry Baccino, Lutin UserLab, Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie

Évelyne Broudoux, CNAM-INTD

Stefano Bussolon, Information Architect - Interaction Designer, Italie

Stéphane Caro Dambreville, Université de Bordeaux 3

Benoît Habert, ENS Lyon

Seth van Hooland, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgique

Yves Jeanneret, Université de Paris Sorbonne

Dan Klyn, Information Architect, The Understanding Group, USA

Yves Marcoux, EBSI, Université de Montréal, Canada

Jean-Guy Meunier, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Sylvie Leleu-Merviel, Université de Valenciennes

Sophie Pène, Université Paris Descartes, ENSCI

Bernhard Rieder, University of Amsderdam, Pays-Bas

Jean-Michel Salaün, ENS Lyon

Emmanuel Sander, Université de Paris 8

Joachim Schöpfel, Université de Lille 3

Ismaïl Timimi, Université de Lille 3

Elaine Toms, University of Sheffield, Royaume-Uni

Review process

All submissions will go through a two-part review process:

  1. Submission of a 1500-2000 word abstract which should include a presentation of objectives and principle arguments, explain the originality of the paper and provide key bibliographical references,

  2. For accepted abstracts, a second evaluation will take place for final papers (30 000 characters including spaces).

Papers will be peer-reviewed by at least two anonymous referees. Instructions for authors are available at the journal homepage

Abstracts should be submitted in Word (.doc) or PDF and sent to the following email addresses:

Abstract submissions may be made in French or English. The final article should be written in French.

Important Dates

January 7 2013: Extended deadline for Abstract submission

December 15 2012: Abstract submission deadline

January 15 2013: Notification of acceptance

May 15 2013: Preliminary version of the papers

May 15, 2013: Final version of accepted articles due

December 2013: Publication date (paper and digital)