Information architecture refers to the structural design of a website and mobile applications constructed through organizing and labeling these shared information environments. Information architecture’s purpose is to allow users to understand and navigate these online platforms easily. Great programs to create flowcharts and information architecture structures are Lucidchart and Draw.io.
Activities that form and shape information architecture include content inventory, content audit, descriptive information creation, information grouping, and taxonomy.
The Three Main Types of Organizational Structures for Information Architecture are:
- Hierarchical: This is a top-down approach where users start with broader categories of information. The further down into the structure a user goes, the more detailed the information is.
- Sequential: Requires users to follow a particular path through content, moving step-by-step. Taking an online test for a course often follows this structure.
- Matrix: This structure gives users flexibility in navigating content. Lets users create their own path through linked content, allowing one user to navigate content by price and another by shipping.
Diving further into the nitty-gritty of information architecture, exact and subjective organizational schemes can categorize the content. Exact organizational schemes would be alphabetical, chronological, and geographical schemes. Subjective schemes would be topic, audience, task, and metaphor schemes.
By adhering to the principles of information architecture, designers will allow website’s users to discover valuable content.
The Principles of Information Architecture:
- The principle of objects: Treat content as a living thing with its own lifecycle, behaviors, and attributes.
- The principle of disclosure: Users need to be briefed on what to expect when navigating through a website so they don’t receive unexpected or unwanted information.
- The principle of multiple classifications: Information architecture should take into account that people classify and search for information differently. For example, when searching for flowers, one user may do a general search of flowers for sale while another may conduct a specific search for a bouquet of roses.
- The principle of exemplars: By providing examples of the type of content in a category, users are able to categorize concepts in that particular grouping.
- The principle of choices: Keep choices for users to a minimum to save users time and stress. The less brain power required for users to navigate, the better.
- The principle of front doors: Due to websites having many destination pages, assume that many visitors will enter through pages other than the home page. Structure your site accordingly so u
- The principle of growth: Since digital content is increasing annually, make sure your website is scalable.
- The principle of focused navigation: The navigation in an online application should stay consistent and include related menus. Different subjects shouldn’t be mixed.