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Importance of Information Architecture in UX Design Process

By Alagammai Kannapan, Community Contributor -

Information Architecture is critical for any website or application. It is a Blueprint of the entire website. The usability and traction of the website or app directly depend on how the app is designed and built. A well-designed website/application with appropriately placed content makes navigating easier for the user. 

Information Architecture is the art of transforming your thoughts into output for seamless browsing. It gives the designer a bird’s eye view of the entire product. It not just enhances a User’s experience but serves as a critical resource for decision making, adding new features to the site, and expanding the site in the right direction. A website holds a hub of information that includes text, images, GIFs, videos, etc. It is essential to create a hierarchy of information for a better User Experience. The content on the website should only be a search away.

Information Architecture Principles

An Information Architect should follow the 8 Principles. 

  1. Objects on a website will exhibit unique behavior. Each has its own attributes.
  2. Lesser the choices, the minimum the complexity. Keeping the choices minimum will control cognitive overload and improve the user experience.
  3. Preview of the information as Meta and Short Description will create an overview of what the user is about to experience
  4. The information explained with an example stays in a user’s mind longer than just the information itself.
  5. The User should seamlessly navigate to the Homepage no matter from where they were directed to the website.
  6. Categorizing the content instead of clustering will help the user easily land on the exact information.
  7. While categorizing, it is important to ensure the navigation is focused by using familiar names.
  8. The Growth of a website needs to be planned as adding more content and expanding the site should not impact the User Experience.

How Information Architecture Influences User Experience

It is essential to understand that Information Architecture and User Experience are different. Information Architecture is the plan laid to improve the UX. 

When a user is able to find what they’re looking for in the first search, then it means that the information architecture is built well. 

How to Create an Effective Information Architecture

Before creating an Information Architecture, the designers must understand who they are building it for (End Users), why they are creating it (Company Goals), study the Competitors, create a sitemap, and perform cross browser testing.  

  1. Company Goals: Understanding the stakeholder’s needs is essential before laying out a plan to create the best user experience. 
  2. Know your End Users: Find your target audience to align the objects based on their interests. You can do this by creating scenarios, user personas, and reviews.
  3. Study the Competitors: Analyse similar websites and understand how they have enhanced their User experience. View and navigate the competitor’s site from a User point of view. Learn the current trends and trending web designs. 
  4. Create a Sitemap: Create a plan for how the user would access the content. Lay out a step-by-step navigation process to cover the entire content you have planned.
  5. Cross Browser testing: It gets impossible to test the website on all available browsers and devices. Using BrowserStack’s Cross Browser Testing analyze your website’s behavior to deliver a great user experience.

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How and When to Test Information Architecture

The information architecture of a website or application refers to the actual content and how it is organized. The ultimate purpose of information architecture testing is to increase content findability and help users find what they are looking for on the website or app. Organizing and labeling content are two major hindrances to navigation, findability, and user experience. 

The two common approaches to revealing Information Architectureissues are Tree Testing and Card Sorting.

  • Tree Testing: Tree testing is a study approach for measuring findability inside a website or app’s hierarchy. Tree testing involves presenting test participants with a text-only version of the site’s hierarchy and asking them to identify a category or page within that structure where they would expect to find a specific item or piece of content.
  • Card Sorting: Card sorting is a technique used to assist in the design or evaluation of a website’s information architecture. Participants in a card sorting session organize ideas into categories that make sense and help in labeling these groups. One can use actual cards, pieces of paper, or one of several online card-sorting software applications to perform a card sort.

Whether you’re designing an e-commerce website, a news platform, a social misinformation Architectureplatform, or a Web directory, developing an information architecture is a crucial component of UX design. Information architecture plays a significant role in websites that include many pages that a simple navigation system would not satisfy.

A holistic user experience is efficient. A successful information architecture with a structured design helps retain users, reduce bounce rates, and boost a website’s popularity. 

By devoting time to Information Architecture, you lay the groundwork for an effective user experience. Admittedly, the heart of any app or website is its content. Well-organized and well-structured content allows your users to engage with a product, resulting in a positive experience.

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