Software development

Information Architecture: The Concept And Best Practices

Feedback from users (and analyzing your own use of the site) 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. Luckily for the people who work in the UX/UI/IA industry and for the rest of us who are all using their products, there are a lot of great tools available for creating excellent and effective IA in website design. You can also check out more information on how to design a website right here in Slickplan!

  • A well-thought-out IA, as mentioned above, adds value to the user experience as well as the business.
  • For the information architect, this means determining when the amount or types of information no longer fit the existing IA or when there’s a shift in the context or users of that information.
  • If eight of your nine informational pages are listed in a section, why wouldn’t you also include the ninth page there?
  • A well-designed website structure is often the result of careful user research and testing, following information architecture principles and best practices.
  • Information architecture is a discipline focused on structuring, organizing, and categorizing content and data in an effective and usable way, largely for websites and applications.

Once you learn their approach to site structure you can decide what ideas you want to borrow and which you want to improve on. Start with categories that apply to the largest groups of similar content. For example, if your marketing website has 15 blogs on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, you could simplify that grouping to “Social Media.” For example, online shopping carts often use the word “item” or “product.” If you’re in the United States, you probably use the word product more often. This step might include user interviews and creating buyer personas.

Learn More About Information Architecture

The IA Summit, held in a different city each year, is a fantastic learning experience for novices and experts alike. Talks are collected and curated, covering data and content areas of information architecture. In the past few years, IA Summit has also made a point of tackling the new challenges coming to the field as a result of greater digital ecosystems and the Internet of Things. MindManager lets IAs export maps as JPGs, PNGs, PDFs, or Word documents. In our Complete Beginner’s Guide to Interaction Design, we also referenced cognitive psychology as a common methodology. Cognitive psychology is the study of how the mind works, and what mental processes take place there, so it’s not surprising that it influences both the interactions we design and the way we architect information.

web information architecture

It also makes the steps they can take next clear, no matter where they first arrive. The principle of front doors is the idea that your website or application has multiple access points. Not all visitors will land on your homepage first — they could arrive on a product page, blog post, or landing page, so you have to construct your website accordingly.

The importance of Information Architecture

There are numerous other advantages linked to the practice of creating and improving the IA of any digital product. Communicators, knowledge managers, and UI/UX designers can never ignore the importance of information architecture in their respective fields. It is also essential to have some clarifications while working with IA.

Along the way we’ll share the history, contributors, and tools often used in creating an information architecture. Even if you’re familiar with the discipline already, you can probably pick up something you’ve missed. Doing it this way shows an understanding of how different target customers might shop. It uses hierarchies and prioritization to organize content into meaningful subsets. L.L. Bean breaks things down by shopper type and product category, with some overlap where it makes sense.

Navigation and hierarchy

So far, you’ve tested your information architecture stripped to its essential features. You will need to verify whether the IA you developed is suitable for the actual website as it is developing. This means user testing the information architecture at each iteration of the website’s prototype based on data models, as well as significant developments information architecture web design for the live website. Userlytics offers card sorting capabilities, which can be used in either unmoderated or moderated remote usability tests. Once you’ve done card-sorting with a set of users, you can refine your results into a sitemap and menu navigation. Design the information architecture to accommodate future growth and changes.

web information architecture

For instance, e-commerce websites need distinct product categories and filtering tools, whereas journalism websites would need a more comprehensive taxonomy to help readers identify pertinent content. Sequential systems refer to creating a focused path for the user to follow. The users are guided through the content step by step so that they go through each sequence and assimilate the information properly. Retail websites are the ones that use the sequential system for their Information Architecture.

User Research and Analysis

IA or information architecture refers to organizing and labeling content to make the product usable and understandable, while enhancing user experience. UI or user interface is an important part of UX since it deals with the visual aspect of the product and the interactivity behind it. So, UI design directly impacts UX since appealing graphics and easy, intuitive interaction are integral parts of a smooth user experience.

Figure 4.17 summarizes the three basic organization patterns against the linearity of the narrative and the complexity of the content. If your site has more than a few dozen pages, your users will expect web search options to find content in the site. In a larger site, with maybe hundreds or thousands of pages of content, web search is the only efficient means to locate particular content pages or to find all pages that mention a keyword or search phrase. Browse interfaces composed of major site and content landmarks are essential in the initial phases of a user’s visit to your site.

What does an information architect do?

As collaborators, they contribute thoughtful and inspiring content that covers various aspects of the UX space, including emerging trends, best practices, and practical tips. Their articles are designed to help readers stay up-to-date with the latest developments in UX, as well as improve their own skills and knowledge in the field. Navigation is a collection of all user-interface elements that house your content, which should be connected in meaningful ways. Reorganizing and structuring new content under this principle requires identifying the type of content you are going to use.

web information architecture

But the most important deliverable that unites the results of an information architect’s hard work is a sitemap. Now, let’s look at some actual website sitemaps to see how they structure their content. A sitemap is a way to illustrate the hierarchy of content and display navigation. Index pages pattern – consists of a home page and equally important subpages. This type is one of the most common choices for websites because it’s simple, familiar, and deep enough for most use cases. It allows you to choose the direction at the very beginning of IA building or website redesign activities.

What tools do information architects use?

The first step, when working on any product or service, is to be very clear about the goals and objectives. For the generation and organization of any content, it is important to know what the purpose of this information is. To get started with IA, therefore, you first need to know your goals and define them in a very clear manner. These goals will also help in maintaining good communication if you’re working with a team of designers. Additionally, a clear definition and understanding of goals can ensure that you’re taking the right steps in the right direction. In order to implement the concepts of information architecture, it is first necessary to understand the components of the system and the ways in which this practice can be applied.