Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Information architecture, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- The process of creating content priority hierarchies is naturally followed by the creation of information architecture for the site as a whole. The term information architecture, or IA for short, is a bit of a weird one because it refers to three different, but connected thinks. The actual architecture of information. The act of creating that architecture. And, the community of practice that thinks and innovates in this realm.
What can I say, we people who build websites love to create obfuscating terms for what we do. So, ignoring is rather a complex definition. The idea of information architecture is really quite simple. We want to organize and label the different components of a website in such a way that a visitor or user can get from one place to another and find what she's looking for in the most obvious and straight forward way possible. Easy as pie.
So, how do we do that? Well, taking all the information we've collected so far, we can now draw up a diagram that maps out each of the main elements of the site. That would be the different pages or views and the different content models and shows how they are displayed in hierarchy and how they connect to one another. If we take our example from earlier of the business Eat, the information architecture for the site could end up looking something like this.
Note that when we build a map like this it is customary to start with the Home page. This is a bit of an archaic model, but it makes the map easier to layout. From the Home page, we have a set of lines that point down to the first tier content, main pages, and indexes. Under these, we have second and third tier content, but there's more. You'll remember that our content models called for a testimonials type and that the services pages were supposed to display related testimonials.
We can now draw in these connections in our information architecture and clearly visualize how these different content models will interact with each other. It is quite possible that we'd want to build the site in a such way that a visitor will never land on an individual testimonial, but always on the service for which that testimonial was given. It's also possible that we want to display the testimonials on other pages and views as well. By mapping out all the connections like this in the hierarchy, we get a clearer map outlining the overall structure of the sites.
Once the map is in place, we can use it as a reference when we build out the content and make connections in the real site.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users