Content is King.
This quote by Bill Gates has driven marketers to make smarter decisions in product marketing and launch forever.
The website design has a lot to convey to its visitors, but it is of no use if you don’t structure or organize it well. The appropriately designed websites with seamless navigation and easy-to-access information flow are easier to explore and understand for the visitors.
Today, businesses struggle to deliver their best to demanding modern consumers with the rich quality content showcased on the website. The quality UX design lets the users find and navigate the content quicker and uncomplicated.
People visit your website because of the powerful and engaging content displayed. Developing content for the website is the most vital and valuable asset for any marketer or product owner.
The content showcased on the website will be picture-perfect and should be in harmony with web design elements, including navigation, information flow, multiple browsers, etc.
One can’t take the risk of letting people simply switch towards the other website for finding information flow too complicated or too slow.
Here an information architecture comes into the picture. We will be going to discuss more Information Architecture in the forthcoming article. Let’s check what information architecture has it all for all of us.
Defining Information Architecture
Information Architecture (IA) primarily focuses on crafting and managing the content of a web platform in the most effective way. It assists in developing user-centered design and the organization of information within digital products.
Information architect manages the content in a way that quickly adjusts to the product’s functionality and gets everything they need in minimal time.
IA puts user satisfaction as a priority and considers the specifics of the target audience's needs. IA is a blueprint, and a visual representation of the product’s infrastructure, features, and hierarchy.
With IA available, it becomes significantly easier to make critical decisions for new features and implementations, understand timelines for product changes, and follow user behavior through multiple processes.
Elements of IA include
- Search systems
- Navigation systems
- Labeling systems and tags
- Organization systems
- Hierarchical, sequential, and matrix structures
Importance Of Information Architecture In UX Design
Information architecture focuses on arranging information during the development of digital products. For instance, when designers create apps and websites, they design each screen to make it easy for users to find the information required. The UX designers determine the proper organization and information flow.
Information architecture helps businesses:
Design an easy-to-use content structure and navigation system from a complicated information set.
Create a website’s information architecture before adding functionality.
Create easily accessible sitemaps that designers can easily make mockups of web-page designs.
Create optimal design solutions for their target audience.
It contains multiple user-centered design methods and performs usability testing.
Information architects and UX designers collectively work during website design and apply the principles of IA in a way that is favorable to the targeted audience.
How Is Information Architecture Used In UX Design?
Designing information architecture is a critical yet challenging process. As of now, you must have understood what information architecture usually is and how it is related to UX. Let’s see how designers utilize this invaluable process.
Here are some quick tips for product owners and CTOs for implementing information architecture in UX design:
1. Firstly Identify Product Goals
Recognizing your product goals at the initial stage gives you an idea of what you will get as an outcome. Being clear about your product goals from the very start helps your development team determine what tasks you should accomplish and the initial stage to start with.
Mismanaging content may lead to miscommunication, redundant work, and wasted resources. It may lead to product dissatisfaction among the users. An information architect first identifies the market trends and customer demands. Moreover, they understand what are their client expectations from them.
You can also perform content inventory and audits to get an idea of exactly what content the website offers.
2. Perform In-Depth Market Research
In-depth market research will tell you about your targeted audience and their needs. Also, it’s more important to learn what the user expects from your product.
Information architects and UX designers conduct a variety of user research methods to determine the most effective way for product content to be structured. They perform research strategies like card sorting, tree testing, and user interviews to help you understand a targeted audience.
3. Consider The IA System Components
The renowned author Peter Morville and Lou Rosenfield described four main information architecture components in their famous book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.
Information architects include system components like:
Navigational. The users move through a digital product and what actions or techniques guide them.
Organizational. It tells how content is segregated into different groups so that targeted customers will find the required content in no time.
Searching. Searching helps users search and find specific content within a product with a lot of info (i.e., search engines, filters).
Labeling. Labeling involves how content or lots of data is represented or presented in simple and practical ways.
You should keep these systems in mind while structuring your content effectively.
4. Always Keep Psychology Principles In Mind
Psychology is the detailed analysis and study of mental processes, behavior patterns, and brain functions. Information architects work closely and heavily rely on the principles of cognitive psychology. It helps them understand how to structure the information while web designing. The cognitive regulations state that.
The cognitive load helps eliminate overloading users with bulk content.
The user can have assumptions keeping mental models in mind when interacting with a product.
These principles prove to be successful while designing information architecture. This helps get things done while choosing how to organize and present digital content effectively.
5. Always keep Visual Hierarchy In Mind
Visual hierarchy states the way articles signify their order of importance. The size, color, alignment, and contrast are all used to establish visual hierarchy. They attract users’ attention and showcase items with priority to navigate a product quickly. While visiting a website, most users thoroughly scan the information displayed and understand what the product offers.
It’s essential to conclude that there’s a lot of crossover between IA and UI design. Information architecture showcases clear connections between the daily work of UX and UI designers.
Advantages Of Information Architecture
Information architects and UX designers must design the website in a way that their targeted visitors find interactive and engaging. They should engage them for a long time without allowing them to switch to another competitor's website.
Here we have listed some advantages of designing information architecture:
1. Provides Better Project Scope
Information architects assist you with the blueprint to map interaction patterns design seamless information flow. The customized IA design they create provides better clarity for the project. The development teams create more accurate and reliable estimates for managers and product owners to make them understand the project scope and timeline in a better way.
The Information Architecture helps us understand how vast the UX is and how many decision layers and levels exist. Here, you will see how many clicks or screens are required to complete a single task.
2. Eliminate Content Gaps
Information Architect is all about organizing and logically structuring content. It helps you understand what information is missing and which best fits where. A customized information architecture identifies content groupings, decision-congestion, intuitive control, unused spaces, recursive paths, or duplication. It will also segregate the required content from the surplus, especially for an existing site with loads.
3. Provides You A Complete View Of Product Inside & Out
Information Architecture is a base for any website, and it comes fully loaded with marketing automation features. The Information Architecture process can also help in-house marketers, content owners, and stakeholders to understand the website functionality. Choosing an innovative and efficient Information Architecture service for any website does make sense.
Steps Of Designing Information Architecture
Designing Information architecture is a process shared by designers, developers, and content strategists. Here is the IA process is given below for a website.
1. Determine The Company Goals
Before designing information architecture, the information architect needs to understand the company goals first. They should understand customer behavior and market patterns to satisfy their customer requirements. The information designed and showcased must be user-centric. Let your visitors connect with every element of your website. The company goals should be considered, like making more funds reduces costs and helps make better decisions.
2. Identify The User's Goals
It’s crucial to understand your targeted personas to satisfy their needs. Identify those who will be using the website. Make sure you conduct user interviews, create personas, and create scenarios. Use a storytelling approach and find best and worst-case scenarios while identifying goals.
3. Analyze The Competitors
Analyze the competition in the market and check out what your competitors are offering. Are they better in their product promotion, product variation, product launch, and so on? Consider a few things about information architecture like
- Where do they display information?
- Which information is the common denominator?
- Is the website easy to navigate?
- What makes it suitable, and what makes it bad?
4. Design The Content First
Design your website content first and decide what is more important and what is not. Start from scratch if your website is newly developed. Be clear about what you have stated on the website. Make sure you write everything on the website and your customers clearly understand it.
5. Segregate And Label The Content
Once you get your content sorted, prioritize it and group it. Segregate the content according to the web design and content strategy. You can use the card sorting technique and determine how the targeted audience will group different items into multiple categories.
6. Define Navigation And Create A Site Map
Now that you have content, it’s time to know how your targeted users will get to this content. Before making a sitemap and navigation, you should define your information architecture. And smooth and seamless navigation is the icing on the cake. Information architecture is the backbone of the website and is represented in spreadsheets and different types of diagrams that is a sitemap.
7. It’s Time For User Testing
During the entire product lifecycle, it’s vital to test early and test often. Use multiple test cases to check if the information architecture properly works or not. The test is to determine if there is some vital information in the IA of the website. Users navigate through the website only by using link names. The testing will provide valuable insight into what features people use, what they do on your website, and why.
Information architecture acts as a strong pillar through which information is shared and utilized in an organization during product development. Most businesses can’t survive without any strong foundation of information exchange and implementation.
Well-organized and flexible information architecture helps businesses to operate effectively, build customer relations, and enjoy monetary profits.
It helps create an impressive and world-class experience that allows users to focus on core tasks instead of finding another way around. This is why information architects are famous and highly in demand due to their unique and effective information architecture design.