What’s Information Architecture in UX Design? Ask An Expert

For clarity in the planning stages, site mapping is the process in which all content is displayed in a hierarchical structure diagram to show categories, parent/child relations, and navigation. This is the process of reviewing all of your content so you have a better understanding of how to structure/organize it. This is the process through which the blueprint or schematic overview of a website is produced.

This gives users the choice of how much information they need and an easy way to access it. Keep your brand personas in mind throughout the UX design and content strategy process. If an IA system is effective, it will allow a website to scale and respond to changes needed for the most current SEO strategies. As more blogs, products, or landing pages are added to a website what is information architecture in web design for SEO, good IA already has a designated location and system to handle them. The best information architecture not only streamlines the user’s journey and goals, but it fulfills specific user needs by organizing a vast amount of information into little, easily digestible categories. Ultimately, usability tests determine whether the created structure works for users.

what is information architecture in web design

Information architecture produces site maps and wireframes to convey how the site will work from a practical perspective. It reveals how users find information, which ways do they use and which do they ignore or just plainly refuse to use and why. It shows us which navigation elements are used and which are overlooked or avoided. Guide them to create a high-level overview of the content first, the detail should come second. As you can see, there are many things to take into consideration.

User Experience: 5 Foundations of Great UX Design

It can be easy to overwhelm users with too much information or too many options as our short-term memories can’t retain very much. Considering cognitive load in your designs helps prevent overloading users with too much content. The goal of information architecture is to organize content https://globalcloudteam.com/ in a way that makes it easy for users to learn, adapt to, and navigate a product quickly and with minimal difficulty. Utilizing IA concepts in your UX design can help you develop digital products that live up to user expectations and make achieving their goals quick and pain-free.

what is information architecture in web design

If you are looking for “hygienic soap”, it may take you a while to scan the list to find the “antibacterial hand wash”. Efficient IA design is a condition of obtaining usable websites and applications. Without IA, a website would have many navigation problems that will simply make users leave it as soon as they access it. Investing time in Information Architecture could save developers a lot of resources in the future, as they will no longer need to improve the structure of a website. The simplest example to understand that is an e-commerce application.

Key Fintech UX Design Trends to Pursue in 2022

There is a clear relationship between IA design and website navigation, the relationship that was also mentioned before. To design a project beautifully from the very beginning, information architects must invest their resources in the IA design process. The website navigation refers to all the components of a user interface. These components make up the navigation experience on a website. There are some substantial differences between the two, but they are part of the same field. To put it shortly, IA design can be compared to a blueprint of the whole structure of a project.

  • By placing navigation aids and important information and elements on different pages, you’ll ensure that visitors know where they are on your website.
  • In other words, the most important factors to building your IA are where individual components of the architecture are placed , and how they’re labeled and displayed.
  • The content of a website, app, or other digital product is the main reason people seek the product out.
  • Often participants are given a text-only version of the site so they are dealing with the content in its most basic form.
  • For example, the Footwear category has its own spot on the main navigation, but it’s also included under Men’s, Women’s, and Kids’, as sub-navigation items.
  • 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.

She focuses on bridging the communication chasm between business leaders and developers and acts as a liaison between stakeholder groups with divergent interests and drivers. Most site navigation interfaces provide global navigation links that allow users to jump from one major site area to another without being forced to back up to a central home page or submenu. 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 information architect running the card-sorting research then combines the most popular category names to form a taxonomy.

For The User

Similar to Omnigraffle, Axure is both a wireframing and a diagramming tool, which is very useful for information architects—particularly those who are also interaction designers. Axure’s goal is intended for rapidly creating wireframes and prototypes of websites and applications. This is particularly likely to happen when the designer is the one responsible for doing the information architecture work. Since designers tend to think visually, it makes sense for the designer to use wireframes to demonstrate the hierarchy of information. Wireframes are also a valuable deliverable to share with clients, and for developers and visual designers to reference as they build mockups, prototypes, and final products.

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Now on its fourth edition, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is one of the foremost books on information architecture. It is so ubiquitous in UX departments and agencies that many people know it only as “the polar bear book,” nicknamed for the polar bear on the cover. The focus of this book is creating IAs for large web sites, which offer more complicated hierarchies. Published in 2005, Peter Morville’s book about information overload and finding content in the world of Google is as valid now as it was then.

Information architecture examples

Illustrations help to make labeling easier to understand, as well as examples of items included in the category. It’s been much easier for your average internet user to get to grips with web design and development in recent years. You don’t need to be an expert coder to create a website, thanks to the various tools, frameworks, and templates that make these tasks intuitive and user-oriented. But as web development advances, so too have user expectations.

what is information architecture in web design

Donna Spencer is a freelance information architect, mentor, writer and trainer. She is the author of A Practical Guide to Information Architecture, and two other books for user experience practitioners. Donna has 9 years experience working in-house and as a consultant doing strategic and tactical design.

Content audit

The task of the information architect or designer is to present the content to visitors most efficiently. Without the IA foundation, compelling content and user interface design fail. That’s why a designer must have a good dynamic between functional design and architecture. Because when you combine UX design and information architecture, you get a user-centered experience. This functional system helps users navigate your system relying on the foundation IA work you create.

When you visit websites, they may store or retrieve data in your browser. This storage is often necessary for the basic functionality of the website. The storage may be used for marketing, analytics, and personalization of the site, such as storing your preferences. Privacy is important to us, so you have the option of disabling certain types of storage that may not be necessary for the basic functioning of the website.

what is information architecture in web design

Information architects are the ones who normally cover a wide range of tasks. The most common tasks involved in their activity are researching, creating the navigation system, wireframing, labeling, and modeling data. As you may notice, there are plenty of principles to respect when building a website. Without following these principles, the website might not turn out efficient and it won’t be appreciated by the users.

The information architect is the key person responsible for determining how information across a website or application is displayed and accessed. As we’ve discussed, this is the key piece of information architecture. In order to create this hierarchy, the IA needs to consider what the user expects to see, as well as what content the organization wants to connect. An information architect will generally do a variety of activities as part of a UX project team. Common tasks include research, navigation creation, wireframing, labeling, and data modeling. Most of these tasks are valuable because of the process they follow, and some also result in deliverables, which we’ve referenced where relevant.

Information architecture: how to master web design

Even if you’re going to delegate this work to your team or freelancers, we encourage you to become familiar with the basics of the process. Since there’s an overload of information all around us, we need to deliver the right content at the right time. There’s no place for too slow or too complicated process of finding the information. Good IA helps us to navigate through tons of information that flush us on every step. When the Information architect works along with the UX designer, he concentrates on Information Architecture design, while the UX designer concentrates on research and wireframing. Let’s dive into this concept and uncover the benefits which good IA brings for users and for a business.

Consistent methods of organizing and displaying information permit users to extend their knowledge from familiar pages to unfamiliar ones. You don’t want your user’s mental model of your web site to look like Figure 4.9. The more common closed card sorting uses preprinted index cards, and a full set of major and subcategory cards is given to each participant. The cards should be carefully printed by hand for maximum legibility, or you could use Avery index card sheets compatible with laser printers to make the cards from your computer. This is often the best option when you need to create large groups of cards for testing. In some special situations users really do want to know how you are organized and will find contact information and content more easily with navigation based on business units.

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.

One survey found that 88% of online shoppers are unlikely to return to a website if the design is bad. Customers and clients are less likely to stay on your website, make purchases, and return if they are not impressed by your website – and IA plays a huge role in how users experience your site. Finding which pages on your site that visitors utilize most can help you prioritize their functionality when auditing your site’s performance. This also gives you insight into which categories of content your target audience is most interested in.


Ontology: understand

Information architects and UX designers use a variety of user research methods to determine the most effective way for product content to be structured. Taking the user’s preferences into account is key to designing a product people enjoy using. To learn about the project’s audiences, IAs need access to the results of usability tests, card sorting exercises, stakeholder interviews, and user interviews, just to name a few.

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Anjali is a young techie who has spent a major part of her life in Delhi. She believes that this city got in her a love for theatre and travelling. She dreams of changing the world through technology and in the meantime also, voyage the mountains of Leh on a Bullet.