University of Technology Sydney

57084 Information Architecture and Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: IKM and Digital Studies
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject introduces students to user-centred information design and architecture principles. These are applied specifically to the development of information products and services that facilitate a variety of communication interactions. Content management within the broader organisational contexts is examined in relation to models for designing and structuring information and communication products. These models are evaluated in terms of their appropriate application to the opportunities and capabilities available for distributing information across a range of analogue and digital products. Policies and key issues such as accessibility, ethics, intellectual property, privacy and security, publishing, usability and online teaching and learning are related specifically to implications for accessing, using and sharing knowledge. On a practical level, students develop professional capabilities for integrating information architectures into analogue and digital information products incorporating web authoring and HTML capabilities. They also develop professional communication and collaboration skills by working in teams to meet collectively negotiated goals.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Understand advanced principles in user-centred information design and architecture
b. Relate content management and organisation to various models for designing and structuring information and communication products and services
c. Assess a range of print and multimedia options in terms of the opportunities and capabilities available for distributing information
d. Evaluate policies and key issues affecting the usability of information products in relation to implications for accessing and sharing knowledge
e. Demonstrate professional capabilities for translating information architectures into web materials using advanced web authoring and HTML skills

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Graduates are able to use advanced knowledge of professional practice to solve complex information and knowledge management problems in diverse organisational and cultural environments (1.1)
  • Graduates are able to work with a high level of personal autonomy and accountability as well as collaboratively with peers, clients and the community at large (1.2)
  • Analyse information and knowledge production flows and processes across a range of complex organisational environments (1.3)
  • Independently research contemporary issues and technologies in information/knowledge management to apply innovative solutions in a substantial project (2.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

The learning experiences available in this subject include weekly workshops comprised of lectures, discussion of set readings, visiting speakers and 'hands-on' use of web authoring and image scanning and manipulation software in the computer laboratory. Students work collaboratively on a major project, thus developing project management and team-based skills.

Content (topics)

This subject introduces students to the principles of user-centred information design and architecture and how to apply them to the design of print, electronic and web-based information products. Students will develop a range of knowledge and skills including: the analysis of user information needs and practices; organising and managing content in ways that align with users’ needs and practices; an understanding of the policies and key issues affecting the usability of information products and their implications for their design practice; an understanding of appropriate information design practices to ensure equity of access for those with different physical, psychological and cultural abilities.


Assessment task 1: Information design journal


a, b and c

Weight: 20%

1000 words length

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Appropriateness and relevance of the examples to demonstrate a design issue 25 a 1.3
Clarity and informative description of the design features (good and bad) 25 b 1.1
Appropriateness of recommendations to resolve the issue 25 c 1.1
Relevance of references to the information design literature 25 c 1.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Design of an information product


a, b, c, d and e

Weight: 40%

2000 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Ability to critically evaluate an information product based on recognised design principles 10 a 1.3
Demonstrated understanding of user-centered analysis and design 20 a, b 1.1
Appropriateness of the product design in alignment with the users' needs 20 c 1.1
Clarity and effective content structure to maximise impact 20 d 1.1
Demonstrated ability to document the information design process 10 d, e 1.1
Evidence of an understanding of the key concepts of information design principles and literature 20 a 1.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Website interface prototype


a, b, c, d and e

Weight: 40%

Specification document 2,500 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Appropriate classification of content to match the needs of the user community 20 b 1.1
Logic of the website architecture for the specified user community 20 c 1.1
Demonstrated ability to work effectively as a team to complete the project 20 a, d 1.3
An awareness of current issues and academic debate in designing Web-based information products 20 a, b 2.2
Effectiveness of team work 20 e 1.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

Attendance at tutorials is essential in this subject. Classes are based on a collaborative approach that involves essential work-shopping and interchange of ideas with other students and the tutor. A roll will be taken at each class. Students who have more than two absences from class will be refused final assessment (see Rule 3.8).?

Required texts

Week 2

The Information Architecture Institute, 2013. ‘What is information architecture’, available at

International Institute for Information Design. ‘What is information design?’, available at

Week 3

Morville, P. 2004, The user experience honeycomb Semantic Studios [online], 21 June 2004,

Week 4

Long, F. 2009, ‘Real or Imaginary: The effectiveness of using personas in product design’. Irish Ergonomics Review, Proceedings of the IES Conference 2009, Dublin

McDaniel, S. 2003, What's Your Idea of a Mental Model?, Boxes and Arrows,

Week 5

Brown, D.M. (2007) Communicating Design : Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning. New Riders.

Masterspec 2009, Guide to writing specifications, available at

Week 6

Kress, G.R. 2004, 'Reading images: Multimodality, representation and new media', Information Design Journal, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 110-119

Townsend, S. 1998, 'Unfolding the surface of information', Design Issues, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 5-20

Week 7

van der Geest, T.M. 2005, 'Mixing up colors: Colors in the interface', Information Design Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 74-78.

WebExhibits n.d., Causes of color,

Week 8

Farrell, S. (2015). Utility Navigation: What It Is and How to Design It.

Pernice, K. (2014) Quicklinks: Bad Label or Indicative of Usability Issues.

Week 9

FitzGerald, T. (2016). Searchers and Browsers: The Personality Types of UX.

Steve Krug:

Week 10

Abou-Zahra, S. and Brewer, J. 2012, How People with Disabilities Use the Web: Stories of Web Users.

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (2005). Introduction to Web Accessibility

Week 11

Australian Government (n.d.), Web Guide, archived on AGWA 10 March 2016

National Archives of Australia, (2015 June), AGLS Metadata Standard, viewed 14 October 2016


There is no set textbook for this subject. Specific readings will be assigned on a week-by-week basis in class. The reference list below is indicative of the texts we will be using in the course.

Brown, D.M. 2010, Communicating design: developing Web site documentation for design and planning [electronic book], 2nd edn, New Riders, Berkeley, CA.

Cooper, A. 2004, Inmates Are Running the Asylum, The: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity [electronic book], 2nd edn, Sams Publishing, Indianapolis Ind..

Cooper, A. et al. 2014, About face: The essentials of interaction design [electronic book], 4th edn, Wiley, Indianapolis..

Garrett, J.J. 2010, The elements of user experience : user-centered design for the web [electronic book], 2nd edn, New Riders, Berkeley, CA.

Hackos, J.T. & Redish, J.C. 1998, User and task analysis for interface design, Wiley, New York.

Horn, R.E. 1999, 'Information Design: Emergence of a New Profession', in R. Jacobson (ed.), Information design, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., viewed 9 July 2019,

Krug, S. 2013, Don't make me think, revisited: a common sense approach to Web usability [electronic book], eBook, 3rd edn, New Riders Publishing, Berkeley, Calif.

Krug, S. 2010, Rocket surgery made easy: The do-it-yourself guide to finding and fixing usability problems [electronic book], New Riders, Berkeley, CA.

Rosenfeld, L., Arango, J. & Morville, P. 2015, Information architecture for the Web and beyond [electronic book], 4th edn, O'Reilly, Cambridge, Mass..

Nielsen, J. 1999, Designing web usability: The practice of simplicity [electronic book], New Riders Publishing, Indianapolis.

Nielsen, J. & Budiu, R. 2013, Mobile usability [electronic book], New Riders, Berkeley, CA.

Nielsen, J. & Pernice, K. 2009, Eyetracking web usability [electronic book], New Riders, Berkeley, CA.

Norman, D.A. 2013, The design of everyday things: Revised and expanded Edition [electronic book], revised and expanded edn, Basic Books, New York.

Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. Perseus Books Group, New York.

Nielsen, J. & Pernice, K. 2009, Eyetracking web usability [electronic book], New Riders, Berkeley, CA..

Redish, J. 2007, Letting go of the words : writing Web content that works [electronic book], Elsevier/Morgan Kaufmann, Boston

Tufte, E.R.1997, Visual explanations: images and quantities, evidence and narrative. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn.

Tufte, E.R.1990, Envisioning information. Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn.

Website: Nielsen Norman Group Articles,

Website: Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), .

Other resources

Design Issues