An Introduction to Information Architecture
As a UX Designer– officially an Information Architect– here at The Web Development Group, I focus on the Information Architecture and content strategy with our clients. Oftentimes, our clients come to us unaware of exactly what Information Architecture is and how it relates to a successful experience for their website users.
To start with, Information Architecture (typically referred to as IA) is the fundamental first step to planning a digital user experience. While it may not be the most obvious or front-facing feature within a website, accurate content organization is a critical element of creating a clear, usable site.
Imagine arriving at a website that has immediate visual impact and very clear messaging about what your company or organization does. It may even invite them to dive into the content and get their feet wet. Alternatively it may promote specific calls to action– a prompt for users to access further information or to perform a task. But what happens when your user moves past the homepage to access further content? Guiding a user clearly and intuitively through your site relies heavily on a clear system of organization. Aesthetic quality cannot stand on its own—it is important that users can convert and find what they are looking for.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCES
The first step is to gather information about the site’s users. Interviews with users and stakeholders provide information that can be built into User Stories. These archetypal user profiles help determine User Flow—the purpose and priorities for each potential audience and how they will move around the site to reach these goals. The last thing you would want is for your users to get lost trying to navigate your website.
CLEAN IT UP
The best way to further clarify the experience for your users is to clean out extraneous content. Auditing your content ensures a streamlined user experience that is easy to follow.
The IA process is important because it not only allows for you to sift through the full breadth of content, you also have the opportunity to begin categorizing your content. Categories will most often form naturally based on the User Flow determinations made at the beginning of the process. Related content should live together under broader “umbrella” categories by topic. From these overarching categories, the primary navigation for your website will be born. IA brings you well on your way to a beautiful, useable new website. Without the strategic organization of content to enhance the site’s utility, design is just something nice to view and functionally serve purpose.
Interested in learning more about our process or digital services? WDG is Washington, DC’s premier creative agency, specializing in building solutions powered by open source technology. Contact us to chat about your web needs and how we can help you strengthen your digital presence.