Sitemaps are based on previously created Information Architecture. Therefore, Information Architecture combines users and their needs, business goals, and content. As a result, we receive content that is organized and easy to follow. When approaching a design or redesign defining information architecture project, it is important to take a look under the hood and start by defining or redefining the IA. The IA doesn’t need to be final before beginning to wireframe and prototype, but a first pass is necessary to get a handle on the volume and complexity of the content.

At the end of this stage, you’ll end up with a user profile and user flow that illustrate the way a user thinks and interacts with a product. When you have all the necessary information about the product and the people who use/will use it, you can go to the next step. It handles the chaos, creating a clear structure for a website, an app, or a program. In this article, we’ll explain how you can create superb information architecture. Second, it makes it easier for users to understand and navigate the environment.

Information architecture is a critical part of the user experience. You want the user to not only be able to understand the structure of your content, but also to predict it. They should be able to find jewelry under the sub-category of accessories, the author’s name on a blog post, and so on. Information architecture is complex, and building one requires a lot of time and resources. There are templates available that you can use as the foundation for your next project.

Daily Tasks and Deliverables

It keeps you from getting lost on the subway, helps you reach your new dentist’s office on time, and keeps you from walking into the kitchen at your favorite restaurant. To better understand why information architecture is useful, it’s a good idea to start with how the human brain works. Well-planned information architecture makes it easy and fun to engage.

Zero trust – what is it and why is strong authentication critical? – Information Age

Zero trust – what is it and why is strong authentication critical?.

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A successful site map is able to identify parts of a product that are either functioning properly or poorly. A site map can also validate the information progression in a new site or redesign. 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. Most information architecture projects follow a very similar pattern of research and discovery, strategy, and design. Information architecture can also heavily contribute to content migration efforts.

From the course: Understanding Information Architecture

In this article we’ll discuss what information architecture really is, and why it’s a valuable aspect of the user experience process. 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. Information architecture defines the layout and delivery of information across multiple forms of media. Commonly used in website design and development, IA outlines how information is displayed and determines the internal structure of a website. However, it’s imperative to test your information architecture as soon as the prototype is ready and before it gets to the development team.

defining information architecture

Once you understand how a user behaves and seeks information, you can design a successful sitemap , website navigation, user flows and so on. Microsoft Visio is a premium tool that offers dozens of premade templates, diagrams, and stencils to help you start diagramming your IA. The latest version comes with even more features to help you create professional sitemaps. Team members can also view, comment, and share Visio diagrams to improve collaboration. Websites are constantly changing with updates and new information. Data models help visualize how that new data will work within the structure.

The information architect is the key person responsible for determining how information across a website or application is displayed and accessed. As we’ve discussed, this is the key piece of information architecture. In order to create this hierarchy, the IA needs to consider what the user expects to see, as well as what content the organization wants to connect. After conducting this research, an IA will begin to analyze the data. In our Complete Beginner’s Guide to Interaction Design, we also referenced cognitive psychology as a common methodology.

Taxonomy is a discipline that helps classify and organize features or information based on the similarities and differences of the concepts that are involved. Information architects choose taxonomies for a product based on the mental model of their target audience . Consider that different users prefer different ways of browsing content. For example, when people visit an online store, some users rely on top-level navigation to find a particular product, while others prefer to use search functionality for that. This will help you in designing your overall architecture.

But if it underperforms, your user won’t be satisfied with the experience. Imagine you’re looking for a new book from your favorite author. Templates Purpose-built templates to help your team collaborate more effectively.Integrations All your favorite tools, built right in. Cross-linking reveals the relationship between different objects, leading to contextual navigation. Using each object, determine what elements make up an object. Review the creative brief and pull out key nouns, extracting “objects” from goals.

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We’ll use the blueprint reference often because the purpose of both documents is nearly identical. Just like a blueprint, IA provides designers a bird’s-eye view of the entire product. Customer interviews and online card-sorting exercises — in which test users group products by their relationships — help validate assumptions about user habits and inclinations. Are shoes and bags appropriately grouped together as accessories? Should the categories “men” and “women” take precedence to apparel type? 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.

defining information architecture

Goodreads uses taxonomy and metadata to allow users to find books of interest. A piece of metadata is “new release.” Combine this together with a specific genre, and you can see what’s new in Historical fiction. Once you know more about each page, you can use this metadata to find it outside of the site map hierarchy, to dynamically display content or links on different parts of the site. Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice. In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.

However, site map creation is often preceded by a mind map. All types of content must be classified and have proper names that won’t confuse a user. In the case of IA, it’s an attempt to group different unstructured pieces of information and give them descriptions.

Involve them in the process and help them understand what you are doing. Build your website around content, not the other way around. When thinking about information architecture, it’s important to think about the different users and how they will navigate, search, or use filters. We live in a world where people want instant gratification.

Hierarchy design patterns

There are probably several other alternatives that people could use. Having a clear information architecture that helps users easily complete their tasks, means they’ll find your site or product more usable. And so they’ll be more likely to use it than one of your competitors. On the other hand, if they can’t find what they’re looking for, or if you don’t present information the way they expect to see it shown, people will abandon your site and move on to someone else’s. For that reason, having a clear and well thought out information architecture, is a big competitive advantage. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems.

But there are also less-known ones, that are equally crucial for the success and profitability of your website or application. Currently the Head of Design Platforms at athenahealth, Jen leads teams focused on Experience Measurement & Insights, Design Systems, and DesignOps. Her group’s charter is to empower the entire organization to innovate, design, and build great experiences. The information architecture is not part of the on-screen user interface — rather, IA informs UI. The IA is documented in spreadsheets and diagrams, not in wireframes, comprehensive layouts , or prototypes.


As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you. As with all aspects of UX design, information architecture starts with understanding people—namely, their reasons to use a product or service. A methodical and comprehensive approach to structuring information is needed to make it findable and understandable irrespective of the context, channel, or medium employed by the user. Context relates to business goals, funding, culture, technology, politics, resources and constraints. Content consists of the document or data types, content objects, volume and existing structures.

defining information architecture

Personas provide input on what content should be displayed and where it should be displayed. Moreover, including examples of content in your wireframes is good to ensure that the design can accommodate the necessary information. It is essential to take this into account in your search system. However, be careful not to provide too many options for finding information, as this could end up overwhelming users. This is important to provide new users with a sense of logic in navigating your website. Organize your content so users can have enough time to absorb the information before more content is presented.

Product Design Sprint Process (Step-by-Step Guide + Tools)

This is usually accomplished by performing card-sorting activities with a sample set of target users of the website. One goal of good information architecture is to keep from inadvertently overloading a user with too much information all at once. They will integrate with the wireframe and content strategy teams to help define the content elements that are needed to keep a balance between information presentation and information consumption. Ocreative is aMilwaukee marketing agency, with expertise and broad experience in developingdigital marketing strategies, andgrowing their online presence, for their clients. The company’s core values include offering the highest level of customer service, award-worthy quality, and performance that surpasses client expectations.

At the same time, content audits provide a view of how valuable, accurate, and effective the content is . Therefore, the content inventory should show all of the product’s information and where to find them. Therefore, content gains prominence according to the hierarchy established by IA professionals – which must be aligned with the company’s or product’s objectives. During the design workflow, a numbering system is often employed to keep everyone on the same page when discussing product content.

On the right are the categories and subcategories placed in the website footer. Ideally, you’d include a short headline and a sentence of description to try to convince visitors to opt in, and that’s it. If they do opt in, you might redirect them to a landing page or send a welcome email with more information, but only at that step. According to this principle, only disclose what is necessary for the user to understand what they’ll find next and make a decision. The beauty company Alaffia provides a great example of such a popup.