I’m a three-time failure at reading the Polar Bear Book.
I’m also a Principal Information Architect with 10 years’ experience.
I’m not telling you not to read the Polar Bear Book. I am telling you that if you want a short, direct, and well-structured book on what Information Architecture is, how to get started practicing it, and real-world examples of prior work, Everyday Information Architecture by Lisa Maria Martin is the book to start with.
It is the IA cohort to The Elements of Content Strategy. And y’all know I’m a big fan of that book.
I started this book while sitting in a hospital room watching my husband sleep. It’s readable even under extreme stress. The book starts with the LATCH system of organization, which I had learned… but when I’d learned it through the quasi-apprenticeship of a mutual fund company’s design department, it didn’t have a name. So here I was, middle of the afternoon, snoring and beeping filling the room, and ten-year veteran of information architecture, learning things I didn’t know on page 5.
Your milage may vary (YMMV), especially if you’re one of those younger folks for whom information architecture degrees were available. (We had library science but I was too short-sighted to major in it.)
The book is vibrant and well-structured enough that I could put it down for a week at a time if I needed to and pick it up again and keep reading and understand where I’d left off. (Also, YMMV.)
Plus, this book isn’t afraid to use Star Trek, Ravelry, cooking, self-deprecating spreadsheet jokes, and colorful, useful examples.
To sum up, this book is going on the list of books anyone who asks me how to start a career in UX, along with Don’t Make Me Think, How to Make Sense of Any Mess and Universal Principles of Design.