Practitioners sometimes merge the concepts of information architecture and navigation design. While it’s true that these concepts are related and that information architecture informs website navigation design, IA and navigation are not the same. In fact, information architecture spans well beyond website navigation. Nathaniel Davis, in an article for UXmatters entitled “Framing the Practice of Information Architecture,” refers to web navigation as the tip of the iceberg that sits atop the information architecture of the site. To design an effective Information Architecture, your team needs to go through the stages of the design process. Information Architecture can also be presented as a simple diagram.

what is information architecture in web design

Feedback from users can help you decide whether your menu scheme has outlived its usefulness or has weak areas. Complex document structures require deeper menu hierarchies, but users should never be forced into page after page of menus if direct access is possible. With a well-balanced, functional hierarchy you can offer users menus that provide quick access to information and reflect the organization of your site.

To design useful information architecture, you need to invest time into learning about your users. Evaluate and adapt content and features for them in your design. When it comes to building website information architecture for a product or service, there are many things to take into account.

Define IA before navigation

IAs may repeat some of these steps later in the UX design process with different objectives. The information architecture of any app or website is, basically, the outline of the information in it; it is the structure of your app’s content. The main aim of the designer working on the IA is to make it simple and intuitive to navigate. This process is very similar to how architects invest their time and effort in creating blueprints and figuring out where the building’s main elements should be located to be easily accessible to residents.

They have both wayfinding pages on their site and content pages.They get people to browse for their Topic via the Topics taxonomy, make a choice, then show content. Many government websites are good examples of content-heavy sites. Structure is easy for users to understand Sites should be organised in an easy-to-understand way. The aim is to make a site structure easy to understand or easy to learn. The organisation on the site has been created according to user needs and has been tested with users. The navigation behaves consistently, and the search and search results function according to user expectations.

This is the reason why all the content needs to be organized properly. Without setting a clear scope for the entire project, Information Architecture cannot be properly defined. The relationship between website navigation and IA becomes clearer when designing a website from scratch and comparing this site with one that has no Information Architecture. Users can find information much more rapidly if the website navigation is well-built from the start. Because it makes information easy to access, the users are more likely to make decisions that are beneficial for the website users.

Also, if you design IA for a complex app or website with loads of information, consider complementing navigation with a searching system that will prevent users from getting lost. It’s a common practice for eCommerce, online databases, dictionaries, and other information-focused websites. You can implement a search engine and a system of filters to help users quickly find what they need. An information architect who works along with a UX designer can concentrate solely on information architecture design, while a UX designer devotes more time to research. In this case, an architect creates a number of deliverables, which we will describe in the section on the steps of IA development.

what is information architecture in web design

Context relates to business goals, funding, culture, technology, politics, resources and constraints. Content consists of the document or data types, content objects, volume and existing structures. Users comprise the audience, tasks, needs, experiences and how they seek information. Information architecture is the process of organizing content into a coherent structure to make it easy to find and navigate.

Take control of your appointments and events

Add a filter to the landing page, so that a visitor can choose to only browse that type of content. For your website, taxonomy is about making the experience easy and enjoyable for the visitor and increasing the likelihood of conversion. Too many options on a page can lead to the inability to choose; providing a structured way to customize the results will give a website visitor the ability to control their experience and get exactly what they want.

  • So, UI design directly impacts UX since appealing graphics and easy, intuitive interaction are integral parts of a smooth user experience.
  • Depth-based scrolling allows new information to enter the user’s field of vision horizontally.
  • Go into How-To & Tools to find all the different articles they have about Methods, Resources & Templates, and Guidance.
  • But you need to know more about the pages than just their physical location.
  • Plus, if users easily find what they need on your website, they most likely won’t search for more on competitors’ sites.
  • Donna Spencer is a freelance information architect, mentor, writer and trainer.
  • For example, in business-to-business relationships a buyer or salesperson might really want an understanding of who manages what parts of an organization.

According to research from, about 14% of users will start with a search and the rest will start by browsing through the navigation options. When thinking about designing the information architecture for your website or app, efficient site navigation is crucial. If the task a user is engaging in is easy to follow without additional non-contextual navigation elements, it’s less likely they will be distracted.

Table of contents

Doing the front-end research to create a site map can seem like extra work, especially in a deadline-driven environment, but it is important not to rush it. Girma compares the stepwise progression of ideas involved in information architecture — which can include tree-like flowmaps, task flows, user flows and site maps — to the iterative process of drafting an essay. Luckily, because information architecture is the practice of making a map or model, there isn’t a need for support documentation. If a user can find what they are looking for on a website, there naturally won’t be as many customer support tickets. A website with a clear mission and value is more likely to have several minutes of user engagement.

The goal of IA for navigation is to give users a clear path to the content they want. This creates a great user experience and gives your business a chance to offer them exciting offers along the way. Information architects add structure and navigation systems to simplify complex information for users. Information architecture is the practice of structuring and presenting the parts of something — whether that’s a website, mobile app, blog post, book, or brick-and-mortar store — to users so that it’s easy to understand. While a sitemap is a scheme of content hierarchy, a wireframe embodies the final look. A wireframe is a schematic representation of a website or an app that displays the navigation and interface of a website.

Content 101: UX Writing

Choosing which content to highlight on a site or page is one way to provide an effective user experience for your target audience. Information architecture is perhaps a proto-content strategy skill set. In the earlier days of the web, information architecture was the skill set that dealt with all the content on the site from a user experience point of view. Taking into account business goals, strategies, current market trends, user research, and a range of other factors, the team can get to work on composing content that adheres to this list of must-dos. It may sound like walking on eggshells or a bit of a tightrope act, but in the same breath, the more you narrow down exactly what needs to be done and not done, the easier it is to compose the content.

When staff can find content, they can reuse it or reference it. This reduces content re-creation effort, content bloat, and, ultimately, costs to maintain an information-rich site. Laurence Williams is a search marketing strategist at Boldist dedicated to helping businesses find the right audience for their brand.

LearningClues revolutionizes how students learn from lectures The University Record – The University Record

LearningClues revolutionizes how students learn from lectures The University Record.

Posted: Thu, 03 Nov 2022 06:15:16 GMT [source]

To take it one step further, use a selection of tags to create subcategories, and offer two drop-down filters for ultra-refined browsing. This is the establishment of specific meanings based on your offering and your audience. With the advancement of technology and vast amount of information available at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever to clearly communicate information about your products, services, and brand story. Our need to structure and access information hasn’t changed — it’s just the way we go about it that’s always evolving. Categorizing the content instead of clustering will help the user easily land on the exact information. For major planning meetings consider printing at least one large diagram of the site organization, so that everyone can see the big picture as it develops from meeting to meeting.

Navigation systems

We are living in a world exploding with information, but how do we find what is relevant to us at the time that we need it? I believe that good information architecture is key to helping us navigate through the mountains of data and information we have created for ourselves. In this book, readers get a seven-step process for tackling even the messiest hierarchies, to help break the work down and make it manageable. The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is an association not only for web architects, but also librarians, researchers, developers, and professors and students. Their goal is to close the gap between theory and practice of information science. They run Strategic Planning Town Hall sessions, a journal publication, and events and webinars for their members.

what is information architecture in web design

If a visitor to your site can easily find what they are looking for through effective navigation and good design, chances are they’ll stay there rather than move onto the next Google search result. The website example above, Punk Avenue shows another example of clear main navigation, with a brief summary of what you will find on each page. Below that is a series of tabs that keep you on the same page and visually indicate what information you are viewing.

Start with information architecture planning

These steps should be full-time members on your information architecture checklist. The rest will fit in as you go along in the prototyping phase and the remainder of your design process. A good information architect looks at the full picture and learns what their client expects from their website or app. This is also a good time to perform content inventory and audits to get an idea of exactly what content the product offers and how useful or effective it is.

How to Create Information Architecture for Web Design

Others still may scroll down to your footer to find the navigation options, and so on. According to the principle of exemplars, you should provide examples of content for things that aren’t necessarily clear or intuitive upon reading. Now let’s look at some important guidelines to follow when designing information architecture. During this stage, information architects decide how users will navigate through a site and how pages on the site connect.

Sometimes navigation can be present in the form of an interactive guide, tour, or tutorial. It can navigate a user through a multi-stage process or a complex website. You can decide on the best option for location and menu type by conducting an A/B and multivariate testing for conversion optimization. While formalized best practices in information architecture are still emerging, designers and engineers are amassing anecdotal evidence of effective information architecture strategies. Below are two examples of information architecture that illustrate the value of unconventional approaches to navigation. In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer.

Today he writes articles and speaks publicly about User-centered design and Information architecture. When approaching a design or redesign project, it is important to take a look under the hood and start by defining or redefining the IA. The IA doesn’t need to be final before beginning to wireframe and prototype, but a first pass is necessary to get a handle on the defining information architecture volume and complexity of the content. Making navigation component choices based on looks alone can force you to change an ideal IA to something that doesn’t best serve the needs of users or accommodate your content. A sitemap lists all the pages and presents the hierarchy and structure between them. Sitemaps are based on previously created Information Architecture.