Pervasive Information Architecture

Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences


  • Andrea Resmini, PhD, Researcher at the University of Borås, Sweden, Information architect at FatDUX, President at the Information Architecture Institute
  • Luca Rosati, Luca Rosati, Independent Information Architect; adjunct professor of IA and HCI at University of Florence and University for Foreigners of Perugia, Italy.

As physical and digital interactions intertwine, new challenges for digital product designers and developers, as well as, industrial designers and architects are materializing. While well versed in designing navigation, organization, and labelling of websites and software, professionals are faced the crucial challenge of how to apply these techniques to information systems that cross communication channels that link the digital world to the physical world.

Pervasive Information Architecture provides examples showing why and how one would:

  • Model and shape information to adapt itself to users’ needs, goals, and seeking strategies
  • Reduce disorientation and increase legibility and way-finding in digital and physical spaces
  • Alleviate the frustration associated with choosing from an ever-growing set of information, services, and goods
  • Suggest relevant connections between pieces of information, services and goods to help users achieve their goals.

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Practitioners, researchers, academics, students in: user experience design, usability, information architecture, interaction design, HCI, web interaction/interface designer, mobile application design/development, and information design. Also architects and industrial designers moving into the digital realm


Book information

  • Published: March 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-382094-5


"This book is required reading for all information architects and user experience designers. It’s a brilliant guide to the design of products and experiences that bridge multiple platforms and channels… The best book you'll find about the emerging practice of cross-channel user experience design."-- Peter Morville, foreword author and author of Ambient Findability and co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

"The rise of pervasive technology encourages information to roam free from the confines of the desktop into every aspect of our lives. To navigate this complex, cross-media environment, we need master architects. This book, from two of the field’s foremost thinkers, is a shining landmark for this new world."-- Cennydd Bowles, author, Undercover User Experience Design 

"It has been a long time since I've been excited about an Information Architecture book. Andrea and Luca have done something truly innovative in bringing Information Architecture out of the design studio and into the streets. A lot of people talk about "pervasive" and "holistic" as ideals -- this book provides solid thought around cross-channel/multi-channel customer experience design. It effectively challenges the view that any one service delivery channel (such as web, or call center, or shopfront) can be considered in isolation. I will be actively recommending this book to colleagues and clients."-- Andrew Boyd, UX Community Lead, SMS Management and Technology (

"Resmini and Rosati have delivered a landmark volume in the evolution of information architecture, communicating relatively esoteric insights about our changing info-landscape in a humane and personable manner. If your work involves shaping how people experience digital and data-informed products and services, then you need to read this book."-Christian Crumlish, co-author of Designing Social Interfaces

"This unique text offers an attractive, reader-friendly layout, demonstrating concepts creatively with thought-provoking color and b&w photos, illustrations, and images, many from art history. The volume is designed so that readers can jump from image to image and find the core ideas of the chapter. Sidebars of key ideas also increase the book's browsability. Employing a multidisciplinary approach to information architecture and the design of the new pervasive information spaces, the book draws on insights in diverse disciplines from cognitive psychology to cinema. Each chapter begins with a short story and concludes with case studies and a list of articles, books, movies, and videos. Part 1 surveys information architecture as both a field of practice and a research discipline. Part 2 illustrates five design principles, and Part 3 shows how to apply these principles with a real-life case study. Parts 2 and 3 include boxed contributions from international authors, researchers, and practitioners. Readers can access a companion web site and a blog."--Reference and Research Book News

Table of Contents


Chapter 1- From Multi-channel to Cross-media

1. A seamless, interconnected world

2. Multi-channel, convergence, and cross-media

3. The challenge of complexity

4. Designing for ubiquitous ecologies

Chapter 2- Towards a Pervasive Information Architecture

1. From Human-Computer Interaction to Human-Information Interaction

2. A Brief History of Information Architecture

3. From Web design to Design

4. Approaches to Information Architecture

1. Information Design

2. Information Science

3. Information Systems

4. Information Architecture

5. A Note on Big IA vs Little IA

6. A Definition of Information Architecture

7. Towards a Pervasive Information Architecture


Chapter 3- Heuristics for a Pervasive Information Architecture

1. Not a Shop

2. Playing with User Experience

3. Precise and Imprecise

4. Designing Processes

5. A Manifesto of Pervasive IA

6. Heuristics for Pervasive Information Architecture

7. Ubiquitous Computing and Everyware

8. Resources

Chapter 4- Place-making

1. Andrea Travels West

2. The Library

3. Into the Maze

4. Through the Looking Glass

5. From Sign to Space

6. Space, Place, and Time

7. Navigating Cyberspace

8. From Space to Sign

9. Place-making in Pervasive Information Architecture

10. Lessons Learned

11. Case study: The Art and Craft of Being Elsewhere

12. Case study: Place-making in FaceBook

13. Case study: Pervasive IA

14. Resources

Chapter 5- Consistency

1. Andrea Learns Something from Gaia

2. A Chinese Encyclopedia

3. Flowers, a Tree, and a Swede

4. Right or Wrong, My Classification

5. Part Fish, Part Bird, Part Mammal

6. Classification Wants to Be Used

7. The Order of Things

8. Foucault and Lakoff

9. A Chair is Furniture, a Rug perhaps Not?

10. Consistency in Pervasive Information Architecture

11. Lessons Learned

12. Case Study: Consistency at IKEA

13. Case study: A Taxonomy for Snoopy

14. Case study: Pervasive IA

15. Epilogue

16. Resources

Chapter 6- Resilience

1. Looking for that Special Wine

2. Human-information Interaction

3. An Integrated Model of Information Seeking

4. The Principle of Least Effort

5. Integrating Approaches

6. A Few Implications

7. Resilience in Pervasive Information Architecture

8. Lessons Learned

9. Case study: The Resilient Museum

10. Case study: The BBC and the Metadata Threshold

11. Case study: Pervasive IA

12. Resources

Chapter 7- Reduction

1. Luca’s Big Adventure with a DIY electronic scale

2. Long Tails, Information Overload, and the Paradox of Choice

3. When More is Less: Choice and Stress

4. Hick’s Law

5. Reduction in Pervasive Information Architecture

1. To Each Their Own

2. Organize and Cluster

3. Focus and Magnify

6. Lessons Learned

7. Case study: The Horizontal Palimpsest

8. Case study: Pervasive IA

9. Resources

Chapter 8- Correlation

1. Luca Goes to the Movies

2. A Brief History of the Black Plague

3. The Map is the Territory

4. The Frenzy of Orlando

5. Integrating the Social and Creative Dimensions

6. Correlation in Pervasive Information Architecture

7. Lessons learned

8. Case study: [to be defined]

9. Case study: Pervasive IA

10. Resources


Chapter 9- Designing Cross-channel User Experiences