Information Architecture (IA) is the structure and labelling of your sites content. It’s the inter-connectivity and internal relationships of that site or app. A good analogy is that it’s the skeleton on which your content is formed around.
IA often gets confused with a sitemap, navigation or even page layout. IA is generally produced in spreadsheets and flow diagrams. Rather than being part of it, it informs the user interface and navigation design.
The ultimate goal for any Information Architecture is for users to feel that content is connected and categorised in a way that meet their goals and expectations.
To be user-centric, a good IA often starts with asking users what they want to know, rather than concentrating on business goals, and what you want to say. If your site or product is already live you can use your analytics search terms to explore how users are finding your content, or internal search terms.To be user-centric, a good IA often starts with asking users what they want to know, rather than concentrating on business goals, and what you want to say. Click To Tweet
Good exercises to employ whilst producing your IA include:
- Top task analysis – identify users expectations when on your site
- Content audit and inventory – to find all content and its usefulness to the user
- Card-sorting – asking users to arrange your content for you
Top task analysis
Top task analysis requires you to list all the tasks that are achievable on your site. Users are asked to pick the 5 most important to them. Gerry McGovern wrote an excellent article on top task analysis over on A List Apart.
Create a user-centered taxonomy and categorise large amounts of content in your website or app so that users can navigate your site with ease.
Content auditing requires the documentation of pages, sections, copy and ctas, usually in a spreadsheet format. If you do this prior to any project, you can ensure that circular linking doesn’t occur, and helps with user flows and journey mapping too.
Card sorting asks user to categorising pages and/or tasks into groups, and can be done either in-person or online. How to use card-sorting
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