UX explained: Information Architecture

Information Architecture is more than just menus; it’s more about the organisation of content clearly and logically. We all know how important it is to produce content that users will find valuable, but it is also equally important to make content findable. Either through SEO, site exploration, via content and of course navigation.

There are three components of information architecture (Abby Covert, 2013):

1. Ontology within UX is the development of a system for referring to the same things, the same way. For instance, we might refer to ‘Football’ as ‘Soccer’, setting the name and term to describe this content category or content type on our site.

‘Articles’ might be referred to as ‘Stories’ and ‘Books’ referred to as ‘Publications’. This controlled vocabulary becomes a foundational element of our content organisation, user interface, standard navigation on every page, and a product’s file and directory structure.

2. Taxonomy is the science and practice of classification. A taxonomy is a hierarchical organisation of content categories in information architecture, using a specific, carefully designed set of descriptive terms.

3. Choreography is about behaviours and relationships between all the pieces of the IA. It’s about which parts go together, what they do, and how they fit in with everything else. In Information Anxiety (Richard Saul Wurman, 1989), Wurman asserts that there are five fundamental ways to organise information:

  • Category – by the similarity of characteristics or relatedness of the items.
  • Time – by timeline or history, where elements are presented in a sequential, step-by-step manner.
  • Location – by spatial or geographic location, most often used for orientation and direction.
  • Alphabetic – based on the initial letter of the names of items.
  • Continuum – by the quantity of a measured variable over a range, such as a price, score, size, or weight.
In conclusion
Information architecture (IA) is a core part of a user experience. Good IA considerably impacts user opinion. The faster a user can get to their final destination, the greater their satisfaction. Efficient IA helps users navigate through content and find everything they need without causing friction.

With good information architecture in place, a user’s primary benefits are met.

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