What is Information Architecture?
You’ve heard of UX and UI design, but have you heard about Information architecture?
Information architecture cannot be ignored when it comes to building an online environment for your organization whether that be on your website or within an app. Information Architecture focuses on the question:
“Where can I find the information I’m looking for fast and easily?”
Organizations we work with struggle with how to display all the content and information they have to the user. Many clients who come to us have dumped so much content on their site which has led to unsatisfied, frustrated users, and higher bounce rates.
Information Architects seek to:
Declutter the information.
- Striking a balance is important here. Keep it concise while not sabotaging your SEO
Organize where content should live.
- This is where we must put ourselves in the user’s shoes and figure out “where would I go for this piece of information?” “What keywords would I look for?” “What page titles or sections make the most sense for this piece of information?”
Breaking up content on individual pages.
- Sometimes you’ve put the necessary information on one page but it looks too wordy like a short novel. Information architects know how to break up this content with headings, subheadings, bullet points, lists and visuals.
- Speaking of visuals…visuals give the brain a break and provide extra clarity on what the information being presented means. Iconography, graphics, photos, or videos are all great ways to supplement information-heavy pages.
Provide a clear path to the information the user is looking for
Information Architects seek NOT to:
- Overwhelm the user with too many words, too many choices, and too many pathways
- Frustrate the user by creating a “search mission” for the content they are seeking
- Paralyze the user with too many unclear choices
- Trick the user into performing an action they didn’t mean to take
The internet is getting quicker and quicker and has become so saturated with content that just about anyone can find what they’re looking for on the web. What that has meant over the years, is people have become accustomed to getting answers to their questions immediately. Consumers know the information is out there, so they want to get it as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
Information architecture is a cure to this disease. IA uses the following methods to help deliver the content people are searching for.
1. They keep into account the 8 principles of IA design when planning
Dan Brown, laid out 8 principles for IA design:
- The principle of objects: Content should be treated as a living, breathing thing. It has lifecycles, behaviors, and attributes.
- The principle of choices: Less is more. Keep the number of choices to a minimum.
- The principle of disclosure: Show a preview of information that will help users understand what kind of information is hidden if they dig deeper.
- The principle of exemplars: Show examples of content when describing the content of the categories.
- The principle of front doors: Assume that at least 50% of users will use a different entry point than the home page.
- The principle of multiple classifications: Offer users several different classification schemes to browse the site’s content.
- The principle of focused navigation: Keep navigation simple and never mix different things.
2. Defining your website/digital environment goals
- How do you want your visitors to interact with you online?
- What actions do you want them to take?
- What do you want to leave with the user?
3. Analyze the competition
- What are others in the same business offering on their digital platforms?
- What information, forms, visuals, and sitemap are they operating by
- Evaluate what your competitors are doing well at or not well at and see how you can improve from their downfalls and take inspiration from the things they are doing well.
4. Audit the existing content
Take a thorough look at the existing content and determine what should stay, what should go, and what can be consolidated.
We help many clients with their information architecture. With every website build, we sit down and take time to evaluate the current content architecture, we define goals, and we start building out a sitemap and wireframes that will help deliver the right information to the user quickly and effortlessly. We understand the mechanics of how information architecture is laced in with an excellent UI. If your online architecture needs some improvement, give us a call.