Information Architecture

I am working on a web site / web application for Roseburg Forest Products right now. Most projects we do have some level of frustration in getting the information you need to get the project rolling and built to the clients expectations.

I have been going back and forth on the information architecture behind the products. It is pretty complicated and getting past the visual display to the customer is tough.

There are 3 tiers Product Type, Product Category, and Product. However at each level there are many types of PDF files, tech specs, related products, links, etc.

Helping a client sort through this and make sense of it so I can:

1) Create a dynamic database driven system to manage all this data.
2) Have that system build out a public web site.
3) Make the information make sense to the user.
4) Make it all available for download and / or adding to a cart.

This is not easy and especially when the client has existing "non-normalized" ways of organizing their data that makes sense to them, and they are hung up on the visual presentation of it.

Anyways just had to dump some thoughts on Information Architecture and how you really have to get to know your products and company before you can really build a dynamic web application or site for a client.