Information Architecture - Hero

Information Architecture

Define an intuitive structure for the user to navigate the system

Define an intuitive structure for the user to navigate the system

When building an information architecture, the application type should profoundly influence the structure, which is why it is vital to define the purpose early. For instance, if the user visits an app to accomplish a task, the best architecture would focus on the steps the user takes to reach their goal; if the website provides users with information, then it is essential for the site structure to include an intuitive taxonomy with categories and tags.

Content audit

When working with more established clients, it is common for a legacy system to exist. Content audits are an excellent way to understand the content structure of the pre-existing application before stakeholder and user interviews. While these inspections can be tedious, especially when dealing with large intranets with deep navigation, conducting an audit early in the design process can save many hours of rework later, and help you better relate to the struggles of the user.

User journeys

While the definition of a journey map is in the title, UX practitioners often struggle with this activity. The reason for this seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the purpose of mapping the customer’s experience. While many journey maps rightfully include personas, user scenarios, and the customer experience, they often fail to include the insights—the opportunities and actions gained from the effort of mapping the journey. When we add in this section, stakeholder buy-in goes up tremendously.

Card sorting exercise

Card sorting helps in the development of architecture relevant to the product users. To begin, determine the exercise goal and if this will be an open sorting activity where the participants are allowed to select the taxonomy, or if it will be a closed sorting activity where the categories are predefined? After choosing a goal and method, begin the exercise by inviting one to five participants to a wall with either category sticky notes already applied for a closed sort, or a blank wall for an open one. On a nearby table, provide the participants with some predetermined architecture elements and a stack of blank sticky notes. Finally, allow the participants to chunk them as they deem relevant.

Flowchart

The quickest path to understand which page to wireframe is through a flowchart. This diagram can be as simple as 1-2-3 or include conditionals to determine the next page the user would visit based on system or user determined actions. Jesse James Garrett developed an IA Visual Vocabulary Cheat Sheet to help architects stay consistent with their elements.

Design Process

To guide the path forward

Design Process

To guide the path forward