Information Architecture

What is information architecture and why should you care?

1 minute read time

If you’re like a lot of people you’ve probably thought at some point that information architecture was all about making a website’s navigation menu, site map, and possibly even some wireframes.

It kind of is, but there’s so much more to it!

There’s more than one way to define information architecture (IA) but the way I like the think of it is as a discipline that is focused on making information findable and understandable.

In order to ensure that we can find and make sense of the information we’re looking for, IA takes into consideration the users (the person looking for the information), the context (think technological and financial constraints), and the content (the existing information structure).

A good IA allows you to not only create a website, application or software where the content can be found. But, the reason this works is because the process of creating a good IA uncovers the way users think about your content (their mental models), why they’re trying to find the information in the first place (their context), and even what words they’d use to describe the content they’re looking for.

This is some seriously helpful information if you want to create a positive user experience for your audience.

Not only does a good IA have a huge impact on the user experience but also on your competitive advantage.

If the experience on your product is easier and more pleasant, customers are more likely to use your product over your competitors.

Ultimately though, the biggest advantage is that a good IA helps your audience reach their goals.

If your audience were physicians, for example, you may save someone’s life because the physician was able to find the latest research that she implemented and it made the difference.

Just think of what the outcome might have been if you hadn’t created a good IA.

It’s not usually as dramatic as all though though, right?

A bad IA might simply result in lost sales because your customers can’t find the products they’re looking for.

One way or another, if you have an information rich product, your IA is impacting your customers experience, your bottom line, and your competitive advantage.

The big question is though, is it impacting it for good or ill?