What Is Information Architecture & Why Does It Matter?

Developing an information architecture in this way enables you to design and build a system confident that it will be successful. Walk other members of the project team through the storyboards and leave them in shared workspaces for comments. The most common problem with information architectures is that they simply mimic a company’s organisational structure. The art and science of structuring and classifying web sites and intranets to help people find and manage information. The term was largely dormant until in 1996 it was seized upon by a couple of library scientists, Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville.

What is Information Architecture

The time and effort an experience requires can make the difference between a product that people will keep using and one they’ll either abandon or dread returning to. With so many digital product options on the market, users expect to interact with sites and apps they can navigate quickly and that will solve their problems with minimum brainpower. If users can’t find what they are looking for easily, they will often abandon the product out of frustration and search for another way to meet their goals. Taxonomy is the practice of organizing and classifying items based on similarities. This exercise typically follows the user research and content inventory processes.

What’s the difference between IA and UX?

However, it does tell you how useful, effective, and accurate the content is. Also, notice the common categories on the main page, accompanying pages, and backend pages. If you’re not able to determine both of those things, take a step back. The Principle of Choices – entails that less is more at all times. That means the choices in any architecture should remain at a minimum. The idea is that an information architect should focus solely on the structure.

It’s thanks to information architects that students can easily research a paper, companies can connect with customers and online shoppers can quickly find the products they’re looking for. These pros combine the best of technology and design to create beautiful digital products that are both functional and intuitive to use. If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention.


Information architecture is a discipline that helps to arrange the parts of a product to make it more understandable as a whole. Understanding the foundational principles of good information architecture is essential for anyone who wants to design user-centered products. Therefore, to create an efficient user experience, you have to utilize the content inventory accordingly. If you notice how different pages follow a separate format depending on the target audience, you’re already seeing IA in action. To say something is usable is a qualitative statement about how easy that thing is to use. Usability is an assessment of how learnable a system is and how easy a user finds it to use.

Information architecture involves research, planning, and communication. And information architects’ work often starts with a complex mass of information. When they finish, they have an informational structure that is clear and easy to navigate.

  • I quit my job of 6 years to become a digital nomad after the birth of my daughter.
  • To design useful information architecture, you need to invest time into learning about your users.
  • Policies – a set of rules that enforce the principles of the architecture.
  • They want to understand their needs and goals and how they look for information.
  • To build out this complex structure, an information architect typically performs a range of tasks including user research, card sorting, content inventory, site mapping, and labeling.

They should be able to find jewelry under the sub-category of accessories, the author’s name on a blog post, and so on. Information architecture is complex, and building one requires a lot of time and resources. There are templates available that you can use as the foundation for your next project. Some of these templates are stand-alone, and others are available with an IA mapping tool.

They also create logical comparisons with new data as you take it in. Recalling patterns helps you guess what might happen next, assuming that it will align with what you’ve seen happen before. It’s also useful to remember that outside events and situations can also impact your users’ cognitive load. Cognitive load is the approximate amount of information a working memory can hold at once.

Content Inventory and Analysis

Wireframes are skeletons of future screens and pages—they visualize essential content areas and help you see how those areas will be organized on the page. Designers use wireframes to demonstrate the hierarchy of information and identify how the product will work from a user perspective. Testing will show if the names of categories fit the needs of your users. When you think about taxonomy, assume that the content and functionality of your product will grow. Try to predict how your product will look in a year or in five years. This will help you evaluate your information architecture design.

Although weighted to the beginning of the project, usability activities should continue throughout a project and evaluate issues beyond simply the information architecture. In both cases usability is a broader concept, whereas information architecture is far more specific. Some people find the relationship and distinction between information architecture and usability unclear. Each of these methods and by-products is explained in detail below.

To do that, you’ll need to work with key stakeholders, team members, and company management. Make sure you involve all relevant parties and that they agree on the final version of the goals. The Principle information architecture for web design of Disclosure – entails that there should be a preview of information that helps users understand what kind of information is available. It gives them an idea of what they can find after digging deeper.

What is Information Architecture

When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you. When it comes to product design, people tend to think visually and they often evaluate something just by looking at it. That’s why creating clickable wireframes becomes an essential part of the information architecture UX process.

Develop clear information architecture

IA has a tremendous impact on product design by making it easier for users to find important information. Just like you wouldn’t want to build a house without the meticulous plans of an architect, tech projects will suffer and possibly fail without the guiding hand of an information architect. Once you understand how a user behaves and seeks information, you can design https://globalcloudteam.com/ a successful sitemap , website navigation, user flows and so on. Identify the services that will be provided by the architecture. They will define things like reporter support and remote login within our newspaper business. Server – generally hardware, this level provides the basic computing power for the entire organization and is typically centrally located.

Being clear about product goals from the very beginning helps your team determine what tasks need to be accomplished and where to start. Structuring and organizing content blindly can lead to miscommunication, wasted resources or unnecessary work, and increases the possibility that your product won’t be satisfactory to the user. Furthermore, a product with quality IA keeps a user’s time and effort in mind.

What is Information Architecture

These principles are general, but they are very helpful in guiding the design of information architecture. Product teams can evaluate individual decisions according to these principles, and this increases the chances of creating something that is useful and organized. Effective information architectures enable people to quickly, easily and intuitively find content.

What is information architecture

The principle of choices is about limiting the number of choices for the user to only the most meaningful and relevant. Put roughly, gestalt is the German word for « shape. » But like most words that cultures share, there is more to the translation. The term gestalt also talks about the way a shape or object reacts to the space around it and how a collection of things can be greater than the sum of its parts. Become a qualified UX designer in just 5-10 months—complete with a job guarantee.

To help users achieve the tasks they come to you to solve, start with understanding user intent. The work of an information architect often varies depending on the organization they work for—which can make this question a little tricky to answer. This discipline incorporates elements of design, technology and business, which means would-be information architects need a mix of skills to match. However, an information architect’s job isn’t always about the details. Many information architects find themselves taking on a project manager role as they guide a project in the right direction and ensure that usability is considered at every stage. This includes “communications with stakeholders or clients on progress, timelines and/or modifications to scope,” Morris says.

User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide

Similar to web design, building the information architecture should also not be a separate task. That’s because there are a lot of things to take into account. Therefore, it also makes an impression on how we architect different information and we design certain interactions. Both these concepts help in creating an information architecture with usable metadata in a well-managed archive.

Content inventory and audit

In practice, information architecture is the organization and structuring of content prior to developing a website. WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) is an acronym for « What You See Is What You Get ». It helps identify an an interface that allows user input resulting in an output that is rendered in a similar way. For example; a word processor application interface might resemble a piece of paper,so when printed the user can see how the output will appear.

Let us take the guesswork out of growing your website traffic with SEO. Tips on how to design for good discoverability, the concept of discoverability and why it’s important. There are many aspects of IA, but two are important for the cataloguing and organization of information, Taxonomies & Metadata. Ensure that there are different ways a user can browse content on your site. Contents of a category should be described by showing examples of that content. Limiting the information a user sees at one time will allow them to better absorb the information presented.

While IA has roots in various fields, cognitive psychology is one of the most important, because this discipline defines the way we structure information. When users can’t find what they are looking for right from the start, there’s a huge possibility they will abandon your product or website. In this article, we’ll discuss the concept of information architecture , what the role of an information architect is, and how IA fits into the UX design process.