Sequential ordering may be chronological, a logical series of topics progressing from the general to the specific, or alphabetical, as in indexes, encyclopedias, and glossaries. 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. A content inventory is a detailed listing of basic information about all the content that exists in a site to be redesigned or, in some cases, a site to be newly created from existing content resources.

what is information architecture

From this research, we create user personas, user journeys, and a findings report. Information architecture work can happen in small and large organisations as well as agencies. A common mistake is to just make IA, without resources, research, or other assets or work.

Conclusion: How are content strategy and information architecture related?

These questions mostly refer to the audience, because the IA design is directly influenced by it. Information Architecture influences everything, so it’s best to have a big picture in mind before getting to work. This is a mistake because efficient navigation is not possible without a good Information Architecture foundation.

Extracting required parameters/data of Engineering Designs in the process of creating a knowledge-base linking different systems and standards. IA is used in physical spaces like museums or department stores, as well as in websites and applications. For instance, in a natural history museum, you will find fossils from the Jurassic period exhibited together, just as your favorite packet of chips will always be in the snack aisle of your supermarket. Be consistent – good usability demands for the information to be displayed in predictable patterns, as it makes it easier for customers to navigate. Therefore, pick a design or pattern and stick to it throughout the entire site. For example, when the user is purchasing a product, each checkout page guides them through what information they need to input in order to successfully check out.

The Importance of Information Architecture to UX Design

Today, information architecture is a skill set that content strategists and UX practitioners use to structure websites, intranets, extranets, e-commerce sites, and other information products. Knowing that IA is a fluid document—one that likely changes weekly, and sometimes even daily—is a powerful way to maintain the overall structure of your app or website without ever touching the code or creating new prototypes. The better the entire product development team knows the IA, the faster everyone will know what is and isn’t possible, and how serious any supposed “easy work” really is. When building IA from scratch, unless your website or application is following a standard format, drawing out anything after the top level is very difficult. It’s like asking a mechanic to build a car from the top down instead of in parts. Each piece has to be constructed in advance with its own research, time for design, and development.

what is information architecture

This mobile app information architecture pattern is going to be extremely familiar to any user because it resembles the way tabs are organized on desktop browsers. The content is placed into different sections, and users can switch between them using the toolbar. Typically, site map development is an iterative process led by a senior-level UX designer or product owner. The map itself can be created in programs like Figma, Invision Freehand, Adobe XD, Lucid Charts — even Microsoft Excel. And U.S. governments offer templates, and UX research organizations like the Nielsen Norman Group offer guidance, but typically site creation happens organically. At its core, information architecture is a plan or thought out system of how content will be accessible to users on a website or mobile app.

Web design trends: What to look for in 2018

If you see these underlying mindsets and management silos driving or distorting early site organization discussions, put them on the table for discussion and brainstorming. Be sure you’ve acknowledged and examined your underlying assumptions and biases and have chosen the best organizing theme for your site. IA is not only about websites and mobile apps it can be applied to daily life and in fact has been practised for thousands of years, as far back as ancient Egypt.

what is information architecture

The navigation behaves consistently, and the search and search results function according to user expectations. Content architecture is the way that content is organized, structured, labeled, and linked together. Effective content architecture is vital to creating a pleasant content management experience for editors, content managers, and content strategists. But perhaps defining information architecture more importantly, solid content architecture is essential to creating a positive experience for the user who is consuming the content. Information architecture is perhaps a proto-content strategy skill set. In the earlier days of the web, information architecture was the skill set that dealt with all the content on the site from a user experience point of view.

Create Categories

Whether you’re designing your first website or building an app for your business, you need a logical structure. For digital product information architecture, a search system typically includes a search engine, filters, and other tools. Results might show chronologically by date, alphabetically by title or author, or based on popularity. Information architecture is the practice of structuring and presenting the parts of something — whether that’s a website, mobile app, blog post, book, or brick-and-mortar store — to users so that it’s easy to understand. When you’re planning your store’s navigation, think of it as a bunch of neatly organized folders and subfolders with the most important pages sitting at the top, in the main navigation.

Manufacturing organizations need information architecture before artificial intelligence – Smart Industry

Manufacturing organizations need information architecture before artificial intelligence.

Posted: Fri, 07 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Our team at Amelia put together this article to find out more about what Information Architecture means, what relationship it has with web designers, and how it can improve the user experience process in the long run. In creating optimal design solutions for their target audience, both information architects and UX designers employ a variety of UX research and user-centered design methods, including user research and usability testing. Together, the efforts of an information architect and a UX designer ensure a pleasant experience for the user. Certain principles of information architecture guide the work of most information architects and UX designers—sometimes even without their realizing it. Once an information architect or designer learns to use these principles, it becomes easy to solve the most complex IA problems and create user-friendly Web sites.

The more content you have on your website, the more complex the taxonomy process will be. But there are a few ways that you can make the process more efficient. Metadata is a method of labeling that makes it easy to find the different taxonomies you’ve created to organize your groups. The most effective labels help users quickly see where they can get the answers they want. Because you can find just about anything on the internet, users rely on images to contextualize simple text. While it can be tempting to use the same terms for your labels that you used while you created your categories, this may not be the best strategy.

Understand Product Goals and User Desires

The metaphors designers and engineers use to describe information architecture are not just fanciful descriptions. They reflect the diversity of forms a website or app can take and important differences in how designers think about organizing the flow of information within and across pages. Analyze the user-research data, then decide on the best solutions to make the final product as user friendly and attractive as possible. In this article, I’ll describe some principles of information architecture, then look at the role of information architecture within the context of UX design.

However, no single collection of words and images can serve all purposes. A key to the craft of information architecture is understanding how to shape your message for your audience. This requires some sense of what your managers, clients, and colleagues want to hear and how they want to hear it. People rarely confuse software development and information architecture, but the two fields are highly interdependent. Information architects rely on developers to bring our ideas to fruition. And as the Web continues to blur the distinction between software applications and information systems, these collaborations will become even more important.

That scale of organization isn’t for all designers, but every designer can build a simple, understandable information architecture. OmniGraffle has one benefit over the major competitors in that it provides JavaScript and AppleScript automation, which for most designers may be unnecessary, but typically, full-time information architects appreciate it. Other steps include content inventory, user research and testing, wireframing, and prototyping. Let’s talk about how to create information architecture for your website. According to Peter Morville , the purpose of your IA is to help users understand where they are, what they’ve found, what’s around, and what to expect.

  • While IA is used in the manufacturing of many different products, as exemplified above, in the world of website development, IA design greatly impacts the planning, designing, and production of an effective site.
  • You can use images to give an example of what users will find when they click on a label or category.
  • Like buildings, web sites have architectures that cause us to react.
  • That website will be tough for new employees and clients to understand.
  • Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design.

Next, apply your user research to prioritize and group that content. Each information architecture project is unique, so the order of the steps might vary. But these steps can help you do the research, analysis, and organization it takes to create a great structure for your next digital project. If you think these examples look like something you’d see during the user experience design progress, you’re right. While IA covers disciplines, from technical writing to library science, it’s particularly important within the UX field.


So, your next step is to develop navigation that makes your categories and taxonomies easy to find. With this in mind, try to avoid words and phrases that are specific to your company or other terms that might be new to your users. For example, the label “Sport” on the H&M website could be confusing for users without the fashion photographs. The images quickly clarify that this is a category of clothing, not a separate line of products. You can also use competitor research to inform your categorization efforts.

Step 2: Reverse Engineer the Navigation Flow

That’s like telling an author to write a book without an outline, or a programmer to code an app without prototypes. Even without those parts available, the structure is such that we can understand how to navigate the website through the IA alone. That stops when we reach an application within the website—it doesn’t have to. 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.

As a result, your IA informs the content strategy through identifying word choice as well as informing user interface design and interaction design through playing a role in the wireframing and prototyping processes. Information architects create and manipulate content and information in order to enhance impact, understanding, and readability. They develop layouts and templates for information by applying design principles along with expert language skills. They also inform design processes, track UX trends, and study feedback to improve information delivery.

An information architecture is a document that provides an operational map to how a product acts and functions work for users. It’s akin to a blueprint for digital products, and it displays pages, content, interactions, and behaviors for the entire product. Displaying visual hierarchy is a valuable asset to IA, not only because it provides better context for the reader, but also generalizes key regions of the product. If your app’s most significant feature is ordering a ride which can be done from the homepage, then that page will have the most touchpoints and the most value to the product. And just as blueprints are the most valuable document for an architect to use in the construction of a building, information architecture can be the most powerful tool in a designer’s arsenal. is a free software tool for creating user flows and information architecture and flowcharting.

Lower-value portions fall lower on the hierarchy, and can be found either further down a page or on a completely different page. is a free online tool for creating flowcharts, diagrams, information architecture, and more. The most challenging aspect of creating a new information architecture is almost always in constructing it hierarchically. It’s a common misconception that IA must be built “from the top down.” That’s almost always more difficult to do unless it’s an existing product, such as in the video above. However, developing one isn’t as simple as putting a list of features together and mapping out how they work—let’s investigate the process. Your final step to ensure your information architecture is useful is testing.

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. Wireframes are a way to express the connections established between the technical point of view of Information Architecture and the practical perspective. It has to be easily scalable (i.e. it has to be easy to add new features to the app after its release). Ultimately, you want to keep users focused on the task at hand and lead them where they want to go. Carrie Webster, a Sydney-based UX consultant writing for Smashing Magazine, cautions that too many options can lead to “choice deferral,” where a user chooses not to make a decision at all.