What is Information Architecture?
Information Architecture (IA) is the science of constructing and organizing information within your product so that users can find everything they need with minimal effort.
This is a broad definition because IA can take many different forms such as Card Sorts, Site Maps, Content Audits, Navigation Creation, Wireframes, even Personas, and more. There is no one process, or one set of methods. If the method you are conducting can help users understand where the information that your users want is, then it can be considered a part of IA.
To add another level of complexity; it’s not just a job for Information Architects. IA crosses multiple roles. It can be done by designers, content strategists, developers, SEOs, or others. If you are in one of these roles, chances are you have practiced information architecture at some point.
What do you need for Information Architecture?
How do you practice Information Architecture?
Step 1: Understand your goals
Talk with your stakeholders to understand and lock down your goals. Keep those goals in mind as you plan out your IA process. Remember, different products at different stages may require different types of information architecture.
Step 2: Understand your constraints
Make sure you know how much time and budget you have. Some methods are quicker to perform than others, and some are cheaper. You should weigh this against your goals to decide which methods are the right ones for your project.
Step 3: Choose your methods
IA is a discipline of its own and there is no one process to do it. What works best will vary based on things like how often content is updated, how much content there is, and how visitors use the product.
You should familiarize yourself with the different methods that can be part of IA so you can make an informed decision on which ones to choose.
Some of the more popular IA methods are:
- Card Sorting
- Site Mapping
- Content Auditing
- Navigation Creation
- User Personas
Once you choose your methods, you can perform them to complete your IA process.