You may not realize it, but Information Architecture is behind every positive experience we have when browsing the internet. If it were not for this art of organizing, efficient interaction between users and the pages they visit would be impossible.
You have no doubt come across websites or apps which are difficult to interact with, or obtain information from. This usually means that the information architecture of these platforms is poorly planned.
When creating a website, don’t just think about the content to be posted, or the color scheme. Bear in mind that the content needs to be understood by the user. Why? It is simple. For e-commerces, for example, the website will be the point of contact with potential and existing customers.
When the structure of your website overlooks factors such as usability, ease of navigation and, above all, the accessibility of information, then potential customers will probably end up feeling lost and discouraged when trying to understand the product or service, and will quickly give up trying.
But what is Information Architecture?
The term was coined in the 1970s by Richard Saul Wurman, and refers to the study of information organization, in order to allow users to find their way until they understand the information in question.
In other words, the process of Information Architecture organizes all elements of a web page, app or software in order to improve user experience, making it easier for them to locate and consume relevant content.
Information Architecture can refer not only to digital environments, but also to the organization of physical locations, such as department stores, supermarkets, etc. In any case, i is important that the customer be able to easily locate the information they are looking for.
In the digital sphere, Information Architecture takes on greater proportions. As technology expands and advances, data generation becomes exponential. We live in a world of information and are often unable to make sense of it.
There is no point in harvesting this endless data if we cannot make sense of it, and this is where Information Architecture comes in, helping you to:
- Categorize (a diagram creator can help with that!)
For this understanding and assimilation to be efficient, and your website to be fully accessible, it is important to take the following factors into account during the Information Architecture process:
- The target audience to be reached;
- The purpose of the website;
- The design of interaction and navigation;
- The ease of searching for information and the interface of this search;
- Website usability and accessibility.
Information Architecture methodologies
The Information Architect is the professional responsible for designing, engineering, diagramming and measuring information, with the overall goal of making sites more understandable to the end user.
The following methodologies can be used by these architects to structure information as required. Remember to always keep in mind your solution’s target audience when selecting the best strategy for you.
1 – Hierarchy: Organize items according to a hierarchy, either by order of importance, from smallest to largest, from least expensive to most expensive, etc.
Hierarchies allow the user to understand the relationship that your site’s contents and pages have with others. This facilitates navigation, allowing users to get from one part of the site to another easily.
2 – Content Inventory: the quantity of information on a website can often be daunting. Establish control over these contents, and know what they are about, by making a content inventory – a list of everything that exists on the website, including texts, documents and images.
Doing so makes it possible to identify repeat content, organize information more practically, and make sure information is distributed in the most user-friendly way possible.
3 – Taxonomy: this word comes from biology and refers to the identification, description and classification of organisms in groups and individually. It applies to websites as the grouping of content and actions according to meaning.
Every word, system or action needs to appear on the website in an organized way so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Taxonomy helps structure this information by grouping content based on its meaning, categorizing it and establishing a relationship between the items on any given page.
4 – Wireframes: these are a tool to establish interface strategy. They act as the “skeleton” of a website, showing how navigation will occur.
Wireframes are prototypes that indicate the structure of your content and how interactions will take place, which allows designers to make the interface more tangible and anticipate future issues.
Wireframes make it easier for Information Architects to decide which elements should be visible to the user, and how they should be grouped and ranked.
Why is Information Architecture so important?
From the advent of the internet to the present day, the amount of information available online has grown at an alarming rate – as have the available means for accessing it. As a result, the definition of Information Architecture has expanded, gaining several new meanings.
Ultimately, though, its essence remains the same: to make things as simple as possible. Information Architecture is important in the virtual world because it places the user within a context, whether they’re visiting a website, an app or a piece of software.
The better the user experience on the page, the longer they will stay there, the more they will get to know your products or services, and the greater the chances of converting them into a lead. An organized website also facilitates the customer’s purchase journey.
Browsing websites intuitively, you barely notice how many details had to be considered to build the interface. This includes the information contained on the main page, the functioning of the menus organized by specific categories and even the search bar, created to help you find what you want as quickly as possible.
Good Information Architecture helps people to understand what is around them and discover what they are looking for.