Pam has backgrounds in journalism, computer forensics, and public libraries, which add up to the perfect mindset for digital strategy. She’s been a professional content writer for over 20 years, and working with clients in SEO and analytics for 8 years. Her Instagram feed is equal parts horses, waffles, and drag performers. If your goal is to get people to buy something from your website, information architecture helps drive conversions by planning for the right amount of information to be delivered at the right time. Group any high-volume area of content into labeled buckets, based on the wording a customer would use to narrow down your complete offering into the category that most interests them.
If the information architecture is poorly designed, users will have difficulty navigating your site. Flawless UX relies on building a great information architecture. One of the best ways to get familiar with using IA principles in your designs to observe the content structure of other successful products and practice using similar strategies in your own work. This strategy in combination with the tips listed above can help you create products that are easy to navigate, a breeze to use, and help user’s meet their needs with ease.
Apply card sorting for content classification
An easy-to-use Web site creates loyal customers, while users quickly leave unfriendly sites—perhaps forever. An interesting user experience makes a lasting impression on users. An effective information architecture whose structure is based on your understanding of users helps you keep satisfied customers, lower bounce rates, and improve a Web site’s popularity. Before creating a site map, designers should consider the goals of the product and the environment and motivations of its users. A commuter reading a mobile screen on a subway train, for example, has a far different experience than a Kindle reader lying in bed at night. The information architecture of a website or application refers to the actual content and how it is organized.
Meet Smashing Online Workshops on front-end & UX, with practical takeaways, live sessions, video recordings and a friendly Q&A. The Information Architecture Community Group is an online community hosted by W3C. Members of the community can pose questions or discussion points and engage in conversation with other IAs around the world using the online forum. W3C is very clear that, although they host the community, the opinions and ideas do not necessarily represent their organization. The IAI also puts together World IA Day, and a publication, the Journal of Information Architecture.
Information Architecture Design
For instance, in a natural history museum, you will find fossils from the Jurassic period exhibited together, just as your favorite packet of chips will always be in the snack aisle of your supermarket. Information architecture is the discipline of making information findable and understandable. It includes searching, browsing, categorizing and presenting relevant and contextual information to help people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for online and in the real world.
The ambitious goal here is to create a great website experience for every possible user in every possible situation. In an online grocery store, items are usually organized in ways that make searching easier, aligning with our expectations of where items would be on the physical shelf – the departments. For example, apples are in produce and doughnuts are in defining information architecture bakery goods. Andrea has used the results of the card sort to break down the website’s pages into categories. It will now be easier for people searching for things like the in-flight entertainment to find the right pages on both Google and the website itself. The growth of Google has made more people dependent on search to find what they’re looking for.
Together, the efforts of an information architect and a UX designer ensure a pleasant experience for the user. Certain principles of information architecture guide the work of most information architects and UX designers—sometimes even without their realizing it. Once an information architect or designer learns to use these principles, it becomes easy to solve the most complex IA problems and create user-friendly Web sites.
Breadcrumb navigation is one example of how to do this effectively as shown in the example below. It can sit below the main navigation showing you each page you have clicked on with the current location displaying as the last on the right. Here is a brief list of considerations and processes to use when you are designing the information architecture for a product or service.
Good And Bad Information Architecture Examples
For example, in an online grocery store, what happens when you search for ‘apples’? Many different varieties of apples will come up, including different products like apple sauce and apple juice. All of the apple options might be sold individually, or bundled in a bag. This isn’t only applicable to large-scale websites and Fortune 500 companies. People expect a familiar and usable experience on every website they visit. In modern libraries, information architecture is still handled through the Dewey Decimal System and other international methods of organization – they’re just not logged on card stock.
Although in fairness to those pulling double duty on the keyboard, your UX designer and information architect might be the same person. As with most projects, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you want your final outcome to be or look like before starting. Being clear about product goals from the very beginning helps your team determine what tasks need to be accomplished and where to start.
Inventorying and auditing content
After conducting in-depth research and gathering all the data they need, information architects start analyzing the data. This is where the analysis process begins, as part of IA design. Information architects are the ones who handle this task by handling interviews. Their job is to notice how prospective users behave while using a website and – based on their research – they decide how to categorize information. There is a clear relationship between IA design and website navigation, the relationship that was also mentioned before.
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. Testing will show if the names of categories fit the needs of your users. A sample diagram of the information architecture https://globalcloudteam.com/ of MetaFilter. Information architecture template by Jesse James Garrett.However, not only should the information be organized appropriately, it should also be labeled to best suit the needs of your users. Labels play a significant role in the navigation experience—often being the determining factor in whether users can find information or not.
Content 101: UX Writing
The resulting taxonomies—one from each participant—are then compared both statistically and informally to the taxonomy that was created by the site designers or the information architect. Most sites depend on hierarchies to create their high-level navigation categories, moving from the broadest overview of the site , down through increasingly specific submenus and content pages. In information architecture you create categories for your information and rank the importance of each piece of information by how general or specific that piece is relative to the whole. General categories become high-ranking elements of the hierarchy of information; specific chunks of information are positioned lower in the hierarchy. Chunks of information are ranked in importance and organized by relevance to one of the major categories. Once you have determined a logical set of priorities and relations in your content outlines, you can build a hierarchy from the most important or general concepts down to the most specific or detailed topics.
- An Event Apart advertises itself as the design conference for more than just designers and developers.
- Web design strategy and IA, while they are two different beasts, have a few things in common.
- Have a complete inventory of all your major categories and subcategories of content, with each category on its own card.
- Website navigation that feels natural grows out of the research and planning you’ve done up to this point.
- Information Architecture is something that both designers and developers deal with.
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. Have a complete inventory of all your major categories and subcategories of content, with each category on its own card. If category names are not obvious or are ambiguous, try using an “open” card sort early in your research, to allow the users to create their own names for categories.
Carefully designed Information Architecture can mean the difference between your users leaving, or staying, within the first few seconds of visiting your website. The user has choices for organizing the information, and can use different variables to sort and arrange it. For example, the user can decide to view information by date or type. This changes not only the information structure but the interface of the platform. Now try naming information types, features, structures, and content that go into the platform. If you had to draw how all of those elements work together, where would you start?
Step 2. Conduct user research
Amelia is one of the best WordPress booking plugins out there, if not the best booking and appointment plugin that you can install on your WordPress website. Not investing in Information Architecture will lead to issues that can have serious implications in website abandonment rates. A good IA design can have a knock-on effect on a business and can open doors for new customers.
Wireframes are rough two-dimensional guides to where the major navigation and content elements of your site might appear on the page. When carefully designed they bring a consistent modular structure to the various page forms of your site and provide the fundamental layout and navigation structure for the finished templates to come. Content is much more powerful and adaptable when it is consistently organized in modular formats that can be deployed flexibly across web sites, mobile apps, and social media platforms, all from the same core database. Card-sorting exercises come in a few varieties, and the exercises may be done with groups of participants working together, or with individual participants each working on his or her own. In open card sorting, subjects are asked to create their own names for major categories and subcategories of the site.
The goal is to provide users with only a certain amount of content at a time so it’s easy to digest. 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. So, when you visit a website you might expect parts of that site to match other websites you visit. Designers use these assumptions to improve the user experience.
As you have already seen, almost every stage has its own deliverables. 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. Applying these principles, you are likely to effectively structure existing content and leave a space for growth.
As you design your website or application, it’s important not to focus on navigation only as you risk finding out eventually that it doesn’t accommodate the full scope of your site content and functionality. The participants are given predefined categories from a content inventory list, and they sort the content according to them. Moreover, the complexity and amount of their content increases over time. Therefore, it is very important to use a flexible approach to content management. The entire structure of a Web site—and its search tools—should be easily scalable so the site can grow sustainably, regardless of what types of content appear there in the future.