The majority of people who are responsible for their company’s website have heard of the term ‘Information Architecture’ (abbreviated to ‘IA’), but many don’t understand what it is or how it can help build the foundations for a better user experience.
IA is to a website what an architect’s blueprint is to a building. None of us would have a house built without firstly seeing the plans. So why do so many companies invest thousands in having websites built without researching and planning its structure properly?
To create good information architecture you need to understand three very important things:
Think about the users who are coming to your website. Consider what tasks they need to do, how they think or emotionally relate to your content and what they already know about you. If you know enough about your end users you will be able to group your content in ways that make sense to them, and provide a navigational structure which allows them to find what they want easily and efficiently.
What content do you have, what should you have and what content do you need to create in order to make the user experience more engaging? If you have a good understanding of your content, you will be able to create an IA that works now and also in the future.
Write down the business goals and requirements for the site, detailing who else will be involved and any constraints. If you understand the context, you will be able to create something that works for end-users and your business.
Everyone involved in the project, not just the IA architect should have a good understanding of these three principles. In having this understanding when the IA wireframes are created, it will be clear as to whether the project is meeting its objectives or not.
So in summary, Information Architecture is all about organising content, describing it clearly and providing ways for people to find what they want easily.