The Importance of Information Architecture to UX Design :: UXmatters

Most people will still try and navigate your website by themselves before turning to search. On the Classes & Events page, REI „hides” the list of available classes behind a thoughtful search and filter option. Not only does this prevent overwhelm or confusion at seeing courses not in your location, but it also gives you an efficient way to discover the content you do want to see. This goal might involve purchasing a product, obtaining information, or simply sending an email. Starting a blog post with a definition of the topic to be discussed makes me feel rather like the captain of a school debating society. However, I’ve struggled to find a better introduction to the question of „” than the definition provided by the Information Architecture Institute.

This is a problem if those approaches don’t work well for the user. You’ll notice in the image below that there is an additional level in this site’s hierarchy. The pages connected to the three subcategories under the „destination” category form the fourth level. According to this IA, a user first sees instructions to help them understand and use the app. Then they see a welcome page and can log in with Facebook credentials or email, or register an account if they haven’t already. The other parts of the sitemap show what content would appear above the navbar in the header („utility navigation”), the content area of the page („news, events, exhibit” and the search box), and the footer.

The Principle of Focused Navigation

It’s important to lay out this structure with the appropriate user-centred labels. But you need to know more about the pages than just their physical location. In our definition above, information architecture looks at organisation, labeling, navigation, and search to support usability, functionality, and findability.

what is information architecture

It help organizations to focus on creating new information assets and delivering insights to the business, rather than spending precious time and efforts on fixing broken workflows. We must find ways to articulate the key concepts of our craft, helping people to understand the sophisticated nature of user needs and behavior. We must show the interconnections between people and content that underpin knowledge networks, and explain how these concepts can be applied to transform static web sites into complex adaptive systems (Figure 1-4 ). IA ConceptsLibrariesWeb sitesPurposeProvide access to a well-defined collection of formally published content. Provide access to content, sell products, enable transactions, facilitate collaboration, and on and on… HeterogeneityDiverse collections with books, magazines, music, software, databases, and files.

Get Mark Richards’s Software Architecture Patterns ebook to better understand how to design components—and how they should interact. Did we mention that information architecture involves a little magic? So put on a black hat, bring along your sense of humor, and prepare to enter the secret society of information architects. These are the questions and challenges that live in the gray areas between disciplines. Lots of heated arguments have resulted from attempts to draw clear lines.

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Developing an information architecture for a library presents many challenges, but a library is a relatively well-defined environment, and there is much collective experience and wisdom to draw upon. Virtual spaces are more flexible than physical spaces and can therefore be more complex. And at this point, we have precious few guidelines for creating information architectures for digital spaces. In modern times, most of us become familiar with the basics of information organization through our experiences with books and libraries. Table 1-1 shows how the concepts of information architecture apply to the world of print and the World Wide Web.

As a standard part of the UX process, designers create information architecture when building products. Defining every avenue and path that users can take through an app or website, information architecture is much more than just a sitemap to show what page leads defining information architecture where. Good information architecture can be a central factor in determining your online store’s success. You want your customer to intuitively find what they’re after from the moment they land on the homepage of your site to when they complete the purchase.

what is information architecture

On a strategic level, an information architect might get involved in determining the way that articles and metadata are placed into a content management system. Learn about information architecture—how designers and product managers build an IA using design principles, as well as IA tools and best practices. While both concepts apply to virtual and physical spaces, we’ll focus on the former to help you create websites, mobile apps, and other digital products that are easy to use. Information Architecture is the practice of organizing, structuring and labeling information in a way that makes it easy to find and understand, both in the real world and online. IA encompasses sitemaps, navigation, categorizations, hierarchies, and content types. Usability engineers understand how to apply the rigors of the scientific method to user research, testing, and analysis.

Inventorying and auditing content

Andrew Dillon refers to the latter as the „big IA–little IA debate”. In the little IA view, information architecture is essentially the application of information science to web design which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval. In the big IA view, information architecture involves more than just the organization of a website; it also factors in user experience, thereby considering usability issues of information design.

Data architecture vs. information architecture: How they differ – TechTarget

Data architecture vs. information architecture: How they differ.

Posted: Wed, 28 Jul 2021 07:00:00 GMT [source]

‌If you’re wondering how to become an information architect and get in on this in-demand career, read on. Explore everything you need to know about becoming an information architect in this guide. Once you type in your initial search term, you’ll be given the opportunity to narrow it down further by choosing an option. The homepage will always be the homepage, but where it leads, how users get to those places, and everything in between and beyond is determined later. Using four shapes, no color, and smartly-placed text snippets, every major interaction is understandable without prototypes, and more importantly, it can be understood by anyone working on it.


UX designers use the architecture basis to plan the navigation system. Basically, UX designers rely on Information Infrastructure to improve the user experience. Thus, IA is the foundation of UX and one of the many requirements that designers must respect. By separating content, they create categories that need to be considered when structuring a website. On the other hand, when web designers create website menus, they also practice Information Architecture to help users select the categories that are relevant for what they search. An information architect places everything in order so that users don’t get lost in the content.

  • Information architecture strives to make a website’s value immediately understandable to users.
  • The key to a successful IA is understanding your users, the information they seek, and the ways in which they go about finding it.
  • Every page should be designed in a way that helps users understand where they are, and where they need to go to achieve their goals.
  • Make sure to check your photos for the legibility of all labels and notes.
  • Studying cognitive psychology can give you insights that can help improve user experience and design.

Next, let’s look at the different ways these principles work on IA examples of real websites. You can see a well-organized sub-navigation menu that clearly outlines which links belong to Education, Services, and so on. Ideally, you’d include a short headline and a sentence of description to try to convince visitors to opt in, and that’s it. If they do opt in, you might redirect them to a landing page or send a welcome email with more information, but only at that step. 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.

The Information Architecture Design Process

Users rarely look at a web site and exclaim, “Wow, check out this brilliant classification scheme! ” In fact, much of our work is intangible; many people who are directly involved in web design have only a superficial understanding of information architecture. They may recognize the need for clear labels in a navigation bar, but have no clue how a controlled vocabulary could improve the search experience. If you can’t see it, touch it, taste it, or smell it, it doesn’t exist. Experience design is an umbrella term that encompasses information architecture, usability engineering, graphic design, and interaction design as components of the holistic user experience. You’ll find relatively few “experience designers,” as there aren’t many people with skills in all these areas.

Many government websites are good examples of content-heavy sites. ‍Design There are a number of deliverables in the design process, and the items you complete will depend on the time and scope. Whenever you create a deliverable, it should be tested with users to ensure it is meeting user needs and adhering to your information architecture strategy, content strategy. It’s a common conception that any design work is never truly done, and that’s certainly the case with information architecture. Unlike a blueprint for a building, IA will always evolve based on anything from user needs to new features or a product overhaul. Much of the structure may stay the same and provide consistency between versions so users don’t get confused.

Persona research baked into the design process has helped the team discern that its audience is fairly tech savvy. Colors or positions on a site map denote the hierarchy of ideas, and connecting lines plot the experience of users from page to page. Dashed lines indicate navigational possibilities — for example, the onboarding experience a new user would go through, but an existing user would not. In a typical scenario, as sections of a design model take shape and evolve, multiple stakeholders — including engineers, content writers, customer support teams and executives — are invited into the process. Information Architecture helps product teams prioritize key elements of a design.

#3. Keep It Simple

While the information architect or UX designer creates pages that are valuable and relevant to users, it is important to limit their number. Providing too many options makes it difficult for people choose among them. The larger the selection, the longer it takes for users to process all the data they receive, which can be irritating to them. Chunking can help organize and present information in a modular layout that is consistent throughout the site. This allows users not only to apply past experience with a site to future searches and explorations but to predict how an unfamiliar section of a web site will be organized.

We’ll use the blueprint reference often because the purpose of both documents is nearly identical. Just like a blueprint, IA provides designers a bird’s-eye view of the entire product. Information architecture is a critical part of the user experience.

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Team members can also view, comment, and share Visio diagrams to improve collaboration. There are many design software tools that you can use to map your information architecture. Make it easy for users to see where they are and to return to the homepage, no matter how many links they click on your site.

What is the relationship between Information Architecture and Website Navigation?

Feedback from users can help you decide whether your menu scheme has outlived its usefulness or has weak areas. Complex document structures require deeper menu hierarchies, but users should never be forced into page after page of menus if direct access is possible. With a well-balanced, functional hierarchy you can offer users menus that provide quick access to information and reflect the organization of your site.

However, it is quite easy to overload the index page with elements and make your users feel lost in a sea of information as a result. So, you should pay particular attention to testing how users interact with this interface and use their feedback to improve the UX. Certain aspects of a site-map design are more or less a given — for instance, front-end copy, a navigational menu and contact details. It is important to perceive content as an organic whole, with its own image, strengths, and weaknesses. The initial stage in developing a strategy for presenting information involves organizing all the categories of content objects and determining the types of interactions users need to have with those content objects.


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