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Demonstrating design excellence

Postgraduate students on the City University London Information Architecture (IA) module ended last semester's module on a high by presenting their projects and receiving feedback from design experts.
by John Stevenson

Information Architecture students

The goal of Information Architecture (IA) is to create strong structural design for digital information environments (websites, mobile apps, intranets etc.) by making it easier for users to find the information they need.

In a 'design showcase' held on 11th December 2013, postgraduate students on City University London's IA module were given the opportunity to show and receive feedback on work they had carried out during the module aimed at designing digital environments that are well structured and labelled, with clear and intuitive navigation.

The event, organised by module leader, Dr Stephann Makri, marked the culmination of the IA module taken by a variety of MSc students in the School of Informatics.

nullParticipating students gave a two minute presentation of an IA project (involving the structural design of a website or mobile app) of their choice. The students put together sitemaps (among other design deliverables) to indicate the hierarchical structure of their pages and wireframe mock-ups to demonstrate how the pages might look.

Angela Kounkou (Information Architect at Thomson Reuters Foundation) told the students how they could make improvements to their designs and approaches (in time to help them improve their coursework assignment which was based on the project).

Dr Makri says City's IA module is unique due to its strong involvement of key industry leaders:

"At City, we recognise the importance of providing modules that are not only academically rigorous, but include input from industry. Students on our module have commented on the value of guest speakers from industry, all practicing Information Architecture, coming in to talk about what they do. Tony Russell-Rose, the founder of UXLabs (and co-author of 'Designing the Search Experience: The Information Architecture of Discovery') gave a talk last year. The BBC's Paul Rissen and Tristan Ferne also came in to speak about their specialist expertise. All of these talks came together to provide a really coherent learning package. I was delighted to have had Angela Kounkou participate in the showcase. She gave up half a day of her time to provide the students with invaluable industry-focused feedback. I would like to thank Thomson Reuters Foundation for facilitating her participation in the showcase and the Information Architecture module."

The showcase was well-received by students. Marian Lenehan, a part-time MSc Health Informatics student says:

"Thanks largely to Dr. Makri, Dr Simone Stumpf and my fellow students, I feel I am more confident about conversations regarding site design, functionality and user requirements. I am now in a better position to suggest new initiatives in frontline healthcare where so much is still done in an old fashioned way. The Information Architecture course at City is very well structured and presented with energy and enthusiasm. I particularly enjoyed the lab-based tutorials, where we got to put our new found skills of domain modelling, card sorting, site mapping, wireframing etc. into action in pair and group work."

Adrian Bussone, an MSc Human-Centred Systems student also gives her stamp of approval for the course:

"The IA module is exactly the sort of experience you would want as a new student. Students in this module are given coursework that connects the concepts learned in class to real-world practice."

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.