What is Information Architecture?

His four minute talk Explaining Information Architecture is well worth a watch. Decision making may not sound like psychology, but it is! It’s a cognitive process that allows us to make a choice or select an option.

All of these characteristics demonstrate the sense of the importance the City of Hillsboro places on designing comfortable and accessible spaces for users of public transit. This chapter introduces our framework for examining architecture as the entirety of the built environment. Mapping out your information architecture is an important part of visualizing and understanding all that is involved. We can then see a holistic picture of our website or product. The IA Summit, held in a different city each year, is a fantastic learning experience for novices and experts alike.

Step 6. Design clickable wireframes

This will help you evaluate your information architecture design. Typical scenarios usually match with the users’ goals—they help answer what users try to achieve when using your product. Designers rely on this information to optimize user flow and you can also consider storyboarding to visualize the process of interaction. When it comes to product design, the product should be built around content, not the other way around. That’s why information architecture design should include a mandatory step in which your team identifies what kinds of content will be present in a product and how it will be presented.

defining information architecture

In the same way under “Profile” the “Edit” function has the list of available actions to edit. Get full access to Information Architecture, 4th Edition and 60K+ other titles, with free 10-day trial of O’Reilly. Hayley Carter, “Information architecture”, Work Study, Vol. “During the course of their work, they employ lots of different tools, methodologies, and techniques.

Chapter 2. Defining Information Architecture

Then they can see the results of the unmoderated test, and share or download the results. An information architect will generally do a variety of activities as part of a UX project team. Common tasks include research, navigation creation, wireframing, labeling, and data modeling. Most of these tasks are valuable because of the process they follow, and some also result in deliverables, which we’ve referenced where relevant. The practice of organizing the information / content / functionality of a web site so that it presents the best user experience it can, with information and services being easily usable and findable . However, if you’re just thinking about where things go in the interest of being organized, you might be missing the point.

defining information architecture

In this video, we will define the concept of information architecture and explore its benefits for websites and users. Compare and contrast the different architectural structures presented here based on their functional and formal qualities. American architect, designer, and sculptor Maya Lin (b. 1959) won a design competition with her concept for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was completed in 1982. Lin was in her early 20s and an undergraduate student at Yale University when she entered the competition as part of a school assignment. The simplicity of her design won over the committee, but critics argued it wasn’t symbolic, representational, or monumental enough to memorialize those who fought and died during the Vietnam War.

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The content audit can be documented in whatever tool you’re comfortable in, whether it’s a spreadsheet like the example above. If you’re planning to do more advanced analysis and tracking, loading your content into a more dynamic tool like Airtable can help you to create links between content, source and author. Here we’ll explore some effective information architecture examples, and what types of deliverables can help shape the IA behind a website or product. Information architects can attend conferences, and join a variety of associations and community groups intended to help promote the field and those who work in it. After conducting this research, an IA will begin to analyze the data. Along the way we’ll share the history, contributors, and tools often used in creating an information architecture.

Humans have been structuring, organizing, and labeling information for centuries. Back in 660 B.C., an Assyrian king had his clay tablets organized by subject. In 330 B.C., the Alexandria Library housed a 120-scroll bibliography. In 1873, Melvil Dewey conceived the Dewey Decimal System as a tool to organize and provide access to the growing number of books. The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems within web sites and intranets. Architecture, design, construction, furnishings, inhabitants, and location all play major roles in shaping the overall experience.

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After watching the video, discuss the aesthetics of Deconstructivism to prompt deeper reflection about how notions of beauty are formed in architecture. Deconstructivism is discussed further in Chapter 4 of this text, using Zaha Hadid’s designs as an example. Where teams create the world’s best experiences at scale, powered by the leader in creative tools. As you can see, the “Add New” page or function has a child section, but rather than being specific pages, it’s a group of possible actions that can be completed from that node.



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A further benefit being that the next stage of development can be informed by feedback obtained from testing that MVP. Responsive web design refers to a web page that dynamically adapts its layout to fit the size and orientation of the device on which it is viewed. A responsive design allows for a more optimised user experience across desktop and laptop computers as well as smartphones and tablets of varying sizes. A content management system is an tool that allows a website editor/administrator to manage the content that is displayed.

You can see the wood beams under the roof, the use of brick at the base of the structure, and the use of frosted and etched glass surrounding the seating area. An article from the Khan Academy discussing Jefferson’s design. A helpful page with lots of resources about Jefferson’s campus design from the University of Virginia. The boxes where actions take place use a dashed border to signify some level of interaction, rather than a static page.


Some of Libeskind’s buildings include the Jewish Museum Berlin in Berlin, Germany , the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada , and the World Trade Center Master Plan, New York, NY . The two readings below set up why studying the structures that surround us everyday is so important. There are reflection defining information architecture questions for both the Huxtable reading and the Goldberger text at the end of this textbook. In this visual mapping for an industrial analytics product, Yegor includes application views, popups and alerts, as well as explaining what data or information will be required to populate the views.

While the definition of information architecture is relatively well-established in the field of systems design, it is much more debatable within the context of online information(i.e., websites). Andrew Dillon refers to the latter as the “big IA–little IA debate”. In the little IA view, information architecture is essentially the application of information science to web design which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval.

But regardless of who takes on the task, IA is a field of its own, with influences, tools, and resources that are worth investigation. In this article we’ll discuss what information architecture really is, and why it’s a valuable aspect of the user experience process. Findability is a critical success factor for overall usability. If users can’t find what they need through some combination of browsing, searching, and asking, then the site fails. The organizations and people who manage information are important, too. An information architecture must balance the needs of users with the goals of the business.

UX Booth is trusted by over 100,000 user experience professionals. Published in 2005, Peter Morville’s book about information overload and finding content in the world of Google is as valid now as it was then. He digs into the question “why does it matter how information is structured, if Google can magically find the answers to your questions? ” and connects information architecture to content usability.

Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development. In the analogy of constructing a building, the early phases of development involve understanding the needs of the building, its potential tenants, and local building codes. Information architects and user experience designers work closely together to determine those needs and requirements.

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  • The two readings below set up why studying the structures that surround us everyday is so important.
  • Card sorting is used to test the taxonomy of data with a group of subjects, usually to help inform the creation of the information architecture, user flow, or menu structure on a project.
  • The writing of user stories creates a list of design and development tasks to complete in order to create any required functionality.
  • Axure’s goal is intended for rapidly creating wireframes and prototypes of websites and applications.

“Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, view from above” by Steven Zucker, Smarthistory via Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall, Washington, D.C., 1982. The names are about ½ an inch high and cover all 140 panels. The width of each wall of the memorial is about 246 feet and their heights vary, from about 10 feet high at the center and tapering down to about 8 inches at each end.

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It refers to the way information is stored or grouped together, the methods used to travel through the information and the structure or system’s vocabulary. Information architecture, if done properly, allows users to maneuver easily through the system in order to retrieve the information they desire. “The art and science of shaping information products and experienced to support usability and findability.” Affinity Diagramming takes indistinct information and makes it actionable and concrete.

Information architecture is a discipline that helps to arrange the parts of a product to make it more understandable as a whole. Understanding the foundational principles of good information architecture is essential for anyone who wants to design user-centered products. The term venustas references the Roman goddess Venus, a symbol of beauty.

On a project you might create any number of personas to be representative of a range of user needs and desires. The solutions you design must answer these needs in order to deliver value to your target audience. The ‘Product’ is the website, service, application, interactive thing being worked on by https://globalcloudteam.com/ the business. The practice of Product Design is similar in a lot of ways to UX Design. It involves the coming together of many specific design disciplines… We don’t want to force users to see our hard work; we want them to complete tasks and find information in blissful ignorance of our labors.

The practice of User Experience Design is the coming together of many specific design related disciplines to improve the usability, responsiveness, uptake and aesthetics of a product or service. An MVP is a product that has the minimum set of features to prove the most essential hypothesis for a product. Businesses building a new product can create a Minimum Viable Product to prove that an idea is viable and warrants further investment.

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