Navigating the Digital Landscape: Information Architecture and User-Centered Design
What does information Architecture do?
Information Architecture is the science that organizes and classifies digital information so site visitors can find and use it without frustration. At its core, it helps classify content in a clear and understandable way so that users can easily understand the relations between the content, finding information with less effort on your website navigation.
Where do I start?
Like all aspects of User Experience, start with understanding the user and their context and point of view. User research is part of the core of Information Architecture. When we have the opportunity to see how people use our information, we can observe their behavior and how they interact with the content.
Before you even think about organizing your information, you first have to know what exact information you want to organize? Does this information already exist on your website that you need to better organize it? Or are they duplicated you need to reduce? Or do you actually need to add and create new content?
How to tackle my website’s content?
Now that we know what users are looking for and have good knowledge of our existing content, we want to start organizing it in a way that brings all stakeholders on the same page. One way to start is a content inventory:
The outcome of this methodology is to create a list of information elements on all the pages of a website and classify them by topic and sub-topic. This will make note of what content you have and where it lives. Using a spreadsheet, these are some categories you can place your content into:
- Headings and subheadings
- Media files (images, video, audio)
- Documents (doc, pdf, ppt)
- URL-links of the pages
Now we want to give the content team insight into how useful, accurate, and effective the content is. You can use a rating system to categorize the content based on the metrics.
How do I know what users think of my IA?
To understand how users interact and use your content, you can use 2 different users’ research methodologies to understand users’ mental model.
Information Architecture is a work in progress
The process of enhancing your IA should evolve organically and consistently, it should be a collaborative and iterative effort that involves product managers, UX researchers, UX designers and information architects. Testing your website performance and screening users interactions frequently will help in creating the most effective and user friendly IA for your website.