As graduation day approaches for many college students, my colleague Megan Pluskis and I have decided to examine the different paths we took to our eventual meeting at Siegel+Gale—where we now sit just a swivel-roll away from each other.
Information architecture means different things at different places. Here, it requires a writer at heart, with a penchant for organizing and mapping information—often large volumes of it. We have information architects who focus on digital wireframing and content development, and some who streamline paper experiences and processes.
I’ll be honest. When I first made the transition from more traditional copy and brand writing to information architecture, I wondered if the job would be creative enough. For anyone used to group brainstorms, big headlines and talk about taglines, a content analysis spreadsheet may initially make you want to pass out. But, if you give it a minute, sometimes you can see a smiley face.
A group of students from University of Oregon, my alma mater, visited our office during the One Club’s Creative Week. They got me thinking not only about that old “Info Hell” class I had to take once upon a time, but also what I had learned over the last decade.
Should you have an advertising portfolio in hand and a dream in your heart, consider these skills that will help you in any corner of the workforce:
Being sketchy. The best writers are visual thinkers, and the best designers have a way with words. We help each other out all the time. In information architecture, being able to visualize workflow maps, put a matrix into place or chart information is a great asset. It’s not that far off from thinking of how an image might be able to say more than a headline.
Having a love of language. If you think it’s fun to rearrange a single sentence 10 different ways, if you have a point of view on hanging prepositions and if you get excited about finding the perfect word, then you’re meant to be a communicator. Good communicators are not only writers, they’re foundational to strategic, creative and account teams.
Telling good and simple stories. Writing a perfect tagline is like poetry, and information architecture also values the art of reduction. The ability to be clear, simple and compelling will always get you noticed.
Not getting stuck. There’s always more than one way to solve a problem. Being able to produce a line-up of ad campaigns, explore different customer journeys and make a process out of solving problems means you can always move forward. When you’re able to switch between perspectives, try something different and not toil too long when an idea isn’t working, you’re adding to the creative process.
Being able to easily talk about your work. Presentation is just as important as creation. When you believe in your thinking (without being righteous about it), can explain your rationale and talk with passion about what you do every day, you’ll shine.
By the way, we’re hiring. If any of this sounds fun to you, see our open positions.
Jennifer Eggers is a senior information architect for the Siegel+Gale New York office.