Information Architecture in UX Design: 6 Tips On How To Build It
Designing means always learning new things – that is, if you want to be good at it.
One of the essential points of learning is information architecture as well.
Information architecture is a foundation for excellent and efficient UX and UI design.
When you consider all of the principles of IA, it can be a compelling tool for all designers.
So, What is Information Architecture In UX?
Information architecture or IA in design means structuring the content of websites and apps as well.
It aims to organise content in such a way so that users can adjust to the functionality of this product and find everything they need without working too hard on it.
This is a skeleton, a layout that ensures that the user experience of finding information is effective.
It can guarantee no problems when it comes to usability, accessibility or navigation.
Skills in this area are essential for all professional designers because UX goes hand in hand with IA and provides a user-friendly product with clear layouts and navigation.
IA is primarily a science of organisation and structure that enables people to consume content with ease.
Richard Saul Wurman is considered to be the founder of this field, but today many experts work on developing information architecture.
Nowadays, it's all about arranging certain parts to create a coherent whole.
Because of information architecture, users can easily adjust to the product and use it as a fully functional item.
This will depend on different factors – the type of product, users and so on.
However, user satisfaction is the most important thing here.
It has become a fundamental aspect of all UX design and development of digital products.
What Is The Role of IA In Design?
The design now has a more user-centred approach.
This is why designers need to learn the main principles of information architecture – it's the foundation of good design.
It's a skeleton of any design project.
Everything matters – from visual elements placement, the way it works and how functional it is for the users, how the navigation works, how the customer interacts with the product and so on.
Even the best design can fail without proper information architecture.
If the content is not organised correctly, it can be confusing for the user.
The navigation should also be comfortable and transparent to help the users reach their destination.
If users have a bad first experience with the product, they will most likely give up on it entirely.
Many companies remain unconcerned with information architecture, believing that it's just not practical because it takes a lot more time and effort than conventional design.
However, while information architecture takes the time to organise everything properly and succeeds with customers, those companies fail in their efforts.
Powerful IA is the foundation of a great product, and it can save you time and money later on.
IA concerning UX design
Some people may think that information architecture is the same as UX design.
Moreover, while these terms are related to each other, they are far from being the same.
Information architecture is a blueprint for the structure of the design which can be turned into sitemaps and wireframes.
This is what UX designers then use to plan the navigation system.
UX design, on the other hand, means more than structuring the content.
UX designers aim to make a model of interaction that is pleasant and comfortable for the users.
This encompasses various aspects which influence user behaviours and actions by using emotions and psychology.
Good information architecture is the very foundation of user experience. It's an essential skill and very effective in what it does.
Information Architecture Components
There are four main components of the information architecture:
1 – Organisational systems
These are the groups in which the information is divided.
These systems help users find information quickly.
There are three primary structures of organisational systems.
These are Hierarchical, Sequential and Matrix.
Hierarchical means visual hierarchy which is very simple – it emphasises some aspects over others to signify importance.
Sequential creates a path for the user through the content to accomplish something.
It's often used in retail.
Finally, matrix is more complicated because users are given the choice of content organisation.
2 – Labelling systems
Labelling systems involves data representation, and it's meant for simplicity and uniting the data.
Navigation systems involve how users move through content.
It's complicated, but it allows users to have a simpler, more seamless experience.
4 – Searching systems
Searching systems helps users search for data in the digital product.
This is effective when there is a lot of data or products that are hard to search through manually.
Keep your goals in mind
It would help if you defined what the goal of your product is.
This is an essential stage because it influences all people that work on a project.
Before you start building information structure, you need to understand what your customer wants from this website, software or application.
You need to establish product goals to have a clear vision of what needs to happen and see the whole picture.
The goals should be easy to understand to all of the team members, be achievable and represent a clean product strategy.
Being aware of the goals means having a clear idea of which tasks need to be completed and where the teams need to start.
Designers can then agree on all of the elements and their purposes and agree with the client so that all misunderstandings can be avoided.
Conduct research on your users
Information architecture experts need to understand all of the principles and aspects of their target audience because this is the audience that they need to serve and satisfy – that's why it's a priority.
To learn more about the audience, you need to perform user research.
User research is a process of collecting information about your audience.
You can use various techniques to get the data.
Once you get the data, you need to analyse it and find solutions that will make the product satisfying and delightful for your audience.
Cognitive psychology aspects
To understand the nature of the perception and what affects the users and their attention, you need to understand the psychology of your audience.
Experts say that there are numerous ways in which data is perceived and that different factors influence what the people want to see and have the patience for.
Based on these principles, you can create various techniques to create a pleasant user experience that shows powerful content.
Some of the most effective techniques include the familiar patterns where you would use familiar places for certain things – for example, the menu is always at the top – as well as that people tend to group similar elements in different ways.
Information architecture also involves navigation, which is a crucial component of any digital product.
Navigation is the set of actions which guides the users through the app, website or software.
It enables your users to achieve their goals and interact with the product in a natural, seamless way.
Navigation should be based on information architecture.
Plan the navigation while planning information architecture for this reason.
Keep visual hierarchy in mind
To organise content to make it easier to consume for users, designers need to apply visual hierarchy.
The users should be able to understand from the visual hierarchy which part is the most important and which are less critical.
They should be able to distinguish these different elements based on their size, colour, contrast and so on.
This shows users where to find the information that they are looking for.
Visual hierarchy is crucial in performance and readability of any copy, content or anything else when it comes to digital products.
One of the core aspects of this is understanding scanning patterns.
People scan the page first before deciding if it's worth a read.
This means that they focus on the most emphasised elements because this is what catches their attention.
So, they will read the title, most subtitles and possibly some of the bold words and phrases.
Some say that popular scanning patterns are in the shape of the letter F or the form of the letter Z.
When you know these scanning principles, you can create a useful structure that will entice the readers to pay attention by placing critical elements in these areas.
What you should consider
While all of this may seem complicated and requires a lot more work, it's effective, and it will become easier as you go.
Here are some of the main things that you need to consider:
- Information architecture is a skeleton of any digital product
- Great information architecture guarantees a high-quality product
- Good information architecture represents the foundation of good user experience.
- Defining goals is one of the most critical stages of information architecture
- User research is imperative
- IA is like a blueprint of the app or website
- Clear visual hierarchy is crucial to the usability of the site, app or the software.
Author Bio: Nora Mork is a design and tech blogger at Paper Fellows and Paper writing service UK. She helps brands make effective decisions, and achieve better results in design, web development and branding.