Information Architecture: How to Organize UI Content

But they all agree that, in one way or another, IA is the practice of organizing content in an effective way. In short, we don’t have much patience when it comes to bad user experience. In this book, we explain the concepts, systems, and deliverables of information architecture. By drawing upon words, stories, metaphors, and images, we’ve done our best to bring our work to life.

defining information architecture

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. When it comes to building website information architecture for a product or service, there are many things to take into account. But before you start building anything, it’s vital to understand the foundational elements of information architecture. When interaction with a product feels effortless, it’s a result of good design. While information architecture isn’t really visible to end-users, it represents the backbone of the design.

The correct label gives users proper conceptualization of the category they are dealing with. During this procedure, name all parts of IA with headings and subheadings. The purpose of labels is to attract user attention, giving a proper understanding of what to expect from clicking on a link. Examples are the best description, so illustrate your labels. The point of the activity is to see directly how users perceive the product’s content pieces.

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Download our free ebook The Basics of User Experience Designto learn about core concepts of UX design. You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible. People perceive information, products and services as places made of language. With a good IA, users can find the information they’re looking for as easily and quickly as possible. Without one, users won’t delight in your product, no matter how beautiful or engaging.

defining information architecture

But it is also easier for business people, especially BI power users, to focus on products because they typically only see the BI tools and not the underlying architectures. Product evaluations and selection then become the focus of the initial BI planning and design effort, with information architectural design getting shortchanged. 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.

How to Plan a Website Redesign: Stages, Approaches, Principles

The collaboration between the two is done in order to combine both business logic, the requirement of the users, good editorial practices, and structured content principles. Adding labels is the process that creates pages on a website. By creating a good hierarchy and navigation system, as well as labeling each page appropriately, a user can find the information he is looking for much easier. After going through the research and analysis processes, the information architect can begin to create a hierarchy. Based on the data analysis performed earlier, the information architect can start organizing the content.

defining information architecture

But doing your structure and labeling all at once can make things confusing fast. This is because the more data you run through, the easier it is to make common mistakes like adding too many categories or creating confusing labels. If you have limited time and resources, you can make educated guesses. But it’s best to do frequent user testing and to use that research to inform each section. To create categories that work for the largest audience, start with your full list of content.

Too many alternatives can confuse, cause anxiety or overwhelm the user — a paradox of choices. Even content has a life cycle, and it is constantly changing. Objects are like templates, so their characteristics and behavior provide a framework for thinking about all the circumstances of a particular object. Many UX professionals benefit from the processes below without realizing the theory behind each method. So if you work with UX, you have probably already used a technique from Ontology, Taxonomy, or Choreography without being aware of it.

Spotify’s website featured a co-existing hierarchy pattern with reiteration and partial reiteration of some sections. This made the information architecture messy with users struggling to find what they need and getting lost in redundant menu items. On a sitemap, you visualize the whole hierarchy of content.

From the course: UX Foundations: Information Architecture

Wireframes are skeletons of future screens and pages—they visualize essential content areas and help you see how those areas will be organized on the page. Designers use wireframes to demonstrate the hierarchy of information and identify how the product will work from a user perspective. 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.

  • Most site visitors do not know what topics or tasks belong to which part of the organization.
  • In fact, information architecture spans well beyond website navigation.
  • If you don’t have the time or resources for usability testing, you can launch your new IA and then make revisions based on your data.
  • You want the user to not only be able to understand the structure of your content, but also to predict it.

As you try to communicate information architecture concepts to others, you’ll probably have to do the same. 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.

But there are a few ways that you can make the process more efficient. The most effective labels help users quickly see where they can get the answers they want. Once you have your high-level categories, it’s time to give those categories labels. As you review your site content you will probably find some content that doesn’t quite fit.

Navigation systems

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The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability. This 2003 book speaks to the multidisciplinary nature of information architecture. It addresses the integration of skills from visual design, information design, library science, information science, and human-computer interaction to accomplish an IA’s work. In the defining information architecture book, which is more of a history than a how-to, Morrogh talks about the purpose of creating information environments that are beautiful, valuable, and easy to use. XMind is yet another mapping software, with the added benefit of allowing IAs to save their maps to Evernote. They offer a full library of maps for users to share their finished work or see others’ work.

User Stories & User Flows

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. Sales can go down if the users of a website are not pleased with how the information is structured on it. The reputation of the brand will also go down because of this.

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Information architects must rely on experience, intuition, and creativity. The reason we can’t serve up a single, all-powerful, all-purpose definition is a clue to understanding why it’s so hard to design good web sites. We’re talking about the challenges inherent in language and representation. No document fully and accurately represents the intended meaning of its author. No label or definition totally captures the meaning of a document. And no two readers experience or understand a particular document or definition or label in quite the same way.

conference room booking systems

Even the most intuitive navigation structure is useless if users never notice it. Eye tracking allows us to gain a real-time understanding of what users see as they navigate through a user interface. Whereas card sorting and tree testing evaluate an IA in isolation, eye tracking allows us to analyze the effectiveness of a navigation structure in the context of all of the elements on the page.

Ocreative is located just outsideMilwaukee,and works with clients locally, nationally, and globally. Their clients have access to some of the most fun and knowledgeable professionals around – ones who inspire, educate, and problem solve. No matter if your goal is to improve the user experience of a website or create a completely new app, you must take eight principles into consideration. Sometimes navigation can be present in the form of an interactive guide, tour, or tutorial. It can navigate a user through a multi-stage process or a complex website.

Some information architects also create site wireframes, which require additional tools. Here, we’ll review some of the products information architects use to create site maps, define categories, and design wireframes. Information architecture is a task often shared by designers, developers, and content strategists. But regardless of who takes on the task, IA is a field of its own, with influences, tools, and resources that are worth investigation.

This is where the analysis process begins, as part of IA design. The principles of choices refer to the fact that fewer elements are the key to good project design. Overcrowding a website with elements is the opposite of this principle. There is a clear relationship between IA design and website navigation, the relationship that was also mentioned before.