Information architecture: What it is and what its functions are.

What is information architecture?

An important part of user experience (UX) design is information architecture (IA). IA is the process of deciding how to organize the parts of a product to make it understandable and meaningful. A good starting point is to see what the nonprofit organization, The Information Architecture Institute, defines IA as:

Information architecture is about helping people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for, both in the real world and online.

In summary, IA is the process of turning something from confusion into clarity through problem-solving and organization. IA began to take shape in the 1970s when XEROX Labs talked about the need for information structuring practices. Then in 1998, authors Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld published a book called Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.

Information architecture works at all levels, from its high-level view of how the website should be structured and flow to the micro level, where it decides how search results are ordered, as well as typographic structure.

Pillars on which the architecture of information is based

Morville identifies three fundamental pillars on which the architecture of information is based.

 

Information-arquitecture-concepts

 

The intersection of these three concepts is known as information ecology, which gives rise to an environment of interdependence that varies depending on the business.

For information architecture to be truly effective, it is necessary to create content taking into account both users and the context in which the company and the project are located.

In summary, we can identify the following key themes related to information architecture:

Content: 

  • Texts, images, graphics, audio content, etc.
  • Mapping of pages or screens
  • Structure
  • Taxonomy
  • The volume of information

Users: 

  • Personality
  • Needs
  • Information search behavior
  • User experience
  • Tasks they want to perform on your application

Context:

  • Business model
  • Project objectives
  • Development technologies and methodologies
  • Resources (capital, people, teams, among others)
  • Restrictions

Now we have a clearer idea of what this discipline is. But how does it apply in the day-to-day work of a designer?

To delve deeper into this topic, it is important to know the methodologies of information architecture.

 

Methodology of Information Architecture

After understanding what information architecture is and how it can be beneficial, it is important to know the methodologies used in this discipline to optimize websites.

Among the most common methodologies are:

  • Hierarchical structures: It is recommended to create diagrams to visualize the structures and how they relate to each other.
  • Wireframes: These are schematic models or prototypes that represent the user’s view. They are useful for planning the layout of content and site functionality.
  • Taxonomy: In information architecture, taxonomy is the way of naming and grouping content. The best way to organize this is to make cards with the information and name them as you classify them.
  • Content inventory: An inventory allows you to gather all the information that will be located on the website. This document is useful for not missing anything and properly structuring the information.
     

Rosenfeld and Morville’s 4 Systems

These are precisely the 4 systems that Rosenfeld and Morville talk about in their book Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond  (considered the bible of this area):

 

  • Organization system: refers to how information is structured and categorized to facilitate access and understanding by users. It includes, for example, the navigation menu of a website, with its categories and subcategories. We organize the information so that its users find the answers they are looking for, and also give them context that helps them understand these answers.
  • Navigation system: addresses the relationships established between the different content to facilitate user traffic and ensure their orientation. A good navigation system allows users to know where they are, where they can go, and also go back. In addition, it provides context and confidence for them to continue exploring.
  • Tagging system: refers to the representation through tags (text and/or icons). In this sense, the goal of tags is to efficiently convey the meaning they represent, occupying strictly necessary space on the page and in the minds of users.
  • Search system: applies to how to facilitate the location of information. The search system helps users search and find information. 

 

As can already be deduced, defining the information architecture of an app or website is a complex task. Therefore, to address it, it is essential to start with a user-centered approach using research techniques that allow us to design an environment that is truly useful for the people who will use it.

 

Information-arquitecture-example

The Importance of Solid and Adaptable Web Architecture in the Current Digital Environment

In summary, it’s crucial to establish a good architecture for your website from the beginning, considering the importance of SEO in its design and development. Additionally, it’s necessary to continue optimizing it as the site grows and evolves, updating internal links and adapting to current trends in user search and usability. In other words, creating a solid structure is not enough; it’s necessary to continue improving and adapting it to the needs and changes of the digital environment.

Whatever the needs of your project, you can contact us and we will help you design your product or service.

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