Information Architecture


HomeWebdesign Management → Information Architecture


Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites (and more) to support usability and findability.

In a closer context, IA is essentially the application of information science to web design which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval. In a wider context, information architecture involves more than just the organization of a website; it also factors in user experience, thereby considering usability issues – which brings us back to the role of the design manager.

IA involves the categorization of information into a coherent structure, preferably one that the intended audience can understand quickly, if not inherently, and then easily retrieve the information for which they are searching (-> Usability).

The organization structure is usually hierarchical, but can have other structures, such as concentric, or even “chaotic” (for instance when the IA is considering the typical user behaviour by putting the most popular contents on the top of the hierarchy).

Hierarchical, angular structure

Hierarchical, angular structure

Concentric structure

Concentric structure

Hand sketched sitemap

Hand sketched sitemap

As in traditional architecture, the focus of IA in the web is on the user and on user requirements. This requires particular attention to the content, usability, interaction design, and frontend design. It also includes the sitemap and navigation system of a website.

IA Tools:

Pencil

Begin with a paper and a pen, and it’s even for free

 

Excel

Excel can be good tool, too, for the beginning, since it’s known and installed on many professionally used computers.

 

But then it comes to wireframe and mockup tools. The border between them isn’t clear, many mockup tools are in fact a wireframe tool, and some wireframe tools offer mockup features, too. While Wireframe tools are mostly more basic and required for the organisation and structure of information data, mockup tools have added functionalities like prototyping the interaction design (make it navigateable, clickable and testable like a real website; some even offer a HTML5 export). Both tools are used long before any frontend design is applied, so they have no prototype function for the visual, but only for the interaction design.

Screenshot of a wireframe app (inPreso)

Screenshot of a wireframe app (inPreso)

There is an increasing number of tools, many of them with a free entry level plan. The list is neither complete nor representative:


HomeWebdesign Management → Information Architecture

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