What is Information Architecture?
How should I structure the menu? How should I decide the navigation flow of a website? These are the common questions that designers encounter before starting to design the product. Information Architecture is the answer to all these questions.
Why is science/art/practice for structuring and organizing and labeling the content for a website, application, or any product. It is like a visual representation of the product’s infrastructure and hierarchy.
Information Architecture serves as the blueprint for your website. Its main aim is to define and structure the paths that a user might traverse while visiting the product or a website.
The main aim is to come up with a structure that aligns with both the user and business needs, being effective and sustainable at the same time. It should be descriptive enough for a person to read and understand the system.
Basic components of information Architecture
From the context that we have learned by now, it is easy to figure out the aim of information Architecture. It is to focus on understandability. To make the content of the product is easily identifiable. It should not be difficult for a user to figure out the log Out button on a website.
In their book “information architecture for the world wide web,” Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville have distinguished for main components: Organization systems, labeling systems, navigation systems, and searching-systems.
Organization Systems- It deals with defining the relationships between various elements in a product.
Organization Systems are the groups or categories in which the content/ information is divided. It lets you develop a product that is consistent and intuitive to the users.
The three kinds of organizational structures using which we can divide the content.
Hierarchical- it’s a similar principle to that of Gestalt. deals with the visual hierarchy of the system. Broad categories and the top and smaller categories drilling towards the end. just like a tree.
Sequential- It’s a step-by-step structure you create for a user to accomplish a task. It avoids confusion and is used mostly for retail websites. Matrix structure- It is complicated and contrary to a sequential structure. Here the user is given a choice to navigate their own ways. Like sorting by date, alphabets, etc.
Labeling system- It deals with conveying more information from a single word. It helps the users to find the content they are looking for in a single place. For an E-Commerce, customize your product will have all information about size, color, or toppings and sauces in teams of food. On a company’s website, the button contacts us plays the same role by providing the phone number, email, location, etc. of the company.
Navigation systems- The set of actions, techniques that guide the users to navigate through the product and should be successfully able to complete the task they were trying to accomplish. It is a series of parts that we create for our users, which would take them anywhere in the product. It is important to know how users move through the content. Do they really know what they are actually looking for, and are they at the correct place? It involves many techniques. We will be learning about this in detail in our later courses.
Searching systems- imagine Netflix without the search box. How’s that even possible? It would be your first response. This system enables users to search for data within the product/ app. A search system comes in handy when there is a lot of data in a product. It would be challenging for a food ordering app to find a perfect one among the number of restaurants. Considering the value of the price, reviews, ambiance, etc., it is only possible to have an efficient search system.
Basic elements of systems
The systems that we have learned revolve around three conceptual elements- Users, Content, and context. Rosenfeld and Moville referred to this as the “information ecology” and visualized it as a Venn diagram. The three of them are interdependent.
Users- As the name suggests, users are the target audience for the information. It also includes the experience and information-seeking behavior of the user.
Content- It refers to videos, images, text, existing structure, objectives, or any other form of data that you would like to present as information.
Contact- context refers to the governing business goals, technology, company culture, resources, constraint- anything that impacts your information.
Is my IA effective enough?
After creating an IA, how would you know that it fulfills the audience’s need or is compatible with the product you plan to develop. We came up with some questions, which we would like some questions, which we would like you to ask yourself before proceeding with the design development.
Am I in the correct place for the information which I was seeking for? Providing assurance to the user, they’re in the right place.
Is my content easily accessible? This calls for better search systems.
Was I able to complete the task without facing any significant issues? This deals with the usability of the product.
Am I in charge of the product I am using? This conveys whether a user can learn from the errors by themselves and can accomplish the goal.
Was it easy to understand?
This calls for the placement of clear and correct information.
Will I be using the product again? This signifies customer satisfaction and the desirability of the product.