Information Architecture and It’s Approaches

People often use the words “Information Architecture(IA)” to mean the menu or navigation on websites or in apps, but that’s not really correct. While menus are a part of IA, they’re really only one part of it. So information architecture is a major part of the interaction and interface design. So information architecture deals with the options involved in conveying information to a user. Information architecture is a new idea. It’s an old practice because information architecture is concerned with how people cognitively process to information. Information architecture on the Web is closely related to information retrieval and enable users to find information easily.

Everyone presenting different detail about information architecture but my article is going to cover everything about it. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of IA. Below is a breakdown of what we are going to cover in this article.

1) IA in Practical life
2) Definition
3) Information Architectural Approaches
4) Components of Information Architecture
5) How to design Good IA
6) Quality of Information Architecture
7) Benefits of IA
8) History of IA
9) Conclusion

IA in Practical life:

In Practical life how information Architecture work? When you go for a grocery store, you start looking at the signs at the end of each aisle. When you think you’ve got the right aisle, you start looking at the individual products. If it turns out you’ve guessed wrong, you try another aisle, or you may back up and start over again. Basically, you use the store’s navigation systems and your ability to scan shelves, full of products to find what you’re looking for.Looking for things on a website and looking for them in the “real” world have a lot of similarities. So when we’re exploring the Web, in some ways it even feels like we’re moving around in a physical space.

Information Architecure and its approaches
Information Architecture and its approaches

Definition:

Information architecture is concerned with creating organizational and navigational schemes that allow users to move through site content efficiently and effectively. So information architecture is all about organization of information, component and pages in a clear and logical way.

Information Architectural Approaches:

Information Architecture categorization scheme base on two major ways from the top-down, or from the bottom up.

A top-down Scheme:
This scheme involves creating the architecture directly from an understanding of strategy considerations, product objectives and user needs. Starting with the broadest categories of possible content and functionality needed to accomplish these strategic goals, we then break the categories down into logical subsections.

A bottom-up Scheme:
In this scheme information architecture also derives categories and subcategories. But it does so based on an analysis of the content and functional requirements. So we group items together into low-level categories and then group those into higher-level categories, building toward a structure that reflects our product objectives and user needs.

With the help of above two categorization schemes, we design IA using one of the following approaches or combining two or more.

Matrix Structure Approach:
A matrix structure allows the user to move from node to node along two or more dimensions. This useful in such application where each users’ need can be associated with one axis of the matrix(dimension), Like travelling site or any other, using filters is the practice to use of matrix structure.

Organic Structures Approach:
Don’t attempt to follow any consistent pattern. Nodes are connected together on a case-by-case basis, But organic structures don’t provide users with a strong sense of where they are in the architecture. So for Entertainment or educational sites, an organic structure can be a good choice.

Sequential Structures Approach:
Are the ones you are most familiar with from offline media, Filling registration form info with steps or splash screens in different apps are practical examples of sequential structure. However, Books, articles, audio, and video are all designed to be experienced in a sequential structure.

IA schemes approaches and components
IA schemes approaches and components

Components of Information Architecture:

The basic component of information structures is the node. A node can a piece or group of information it can be as small as a single number (like the price of a product) or as large as an entire library or Page. By dealing with nodes rather than with pages, documents, or components, we can apply a common language and a common set of structural concepts to a diverse range of problems.

Most website architecture projects are only concerned with the arrangement of pages on the site by identifying the page as our base-level node. So we make it explicit that we won’t be dealing with anything smaller. However,In information, architecture nodes have parent/child relationships with other related nodes. Child nodes represent narrower concepts within the broader category represented by the parent node. Not every node has children, but every node has a parent.

Components specify the appearance and location of the IA, so we know what to look for? and where to look when we need them? But the major documentation component tools for information architecture or interaction design are the diagrams. Representing the structure visually is the most efficient way for us to communicate the branches, groups, and interrelationships among the components of our site. We use visuall diagrams for Nodes, sections, functions, button, conditions and pages, sub-pages as components of IA. IA visuall diagrams are similar to flow chart diagrams.

How to design Good IA:

For designing good IA, UX designer must have the knowledge of designing conceptual models and Error Handling. Users’ impressions of how the interactive components will behave are known as conceptual models. So it’s more important that conceptual models are used consistently throughout the development of the interaction design. There are two major types of a conceptual model.

Task Conceptual Model:
This conceptual model influence both the design of component and language we use in an interface. For example, shopping cart component of a typical e-commerce site holds objects as a result. So we “put things into” and “take things out of” the “cart” and system must provide a function to accomplish these task with the simple button ” Buy Now” or “checkout”.

Component Conceptual model:
A component conceptual model can refer to just one component of a system or to the system as a whole. A component conceptual model is different real-world ana-log, such as a Registration form, Catalog(list) order form. In this form component system might provide possible remove, edit, add and delete functionality of tradition.

Error Handling:
As a good UX designer, you should have knowledge about error handling. Error Handling is about, what does the system do? when people make mistakes? and what can the system do to prevent those mistakes from happening in the first place? So the best defence against errors is to design simple, easy to use and effective system. But don’t design any function or component which may cause any error. So try to design alternate functions or component so that errors are simply impossible. Helpful error messages and easy-to-interpret interfaces can help users catch many kinds of errors after they’ve happened.

Design IA with effective familiar conceptual models because unfamiliar conceptual models are only effective when users can correctly understand and interpret them.

Quality of Information Architecture:

Some people favour counting the number of steps, it takes to complete a task or the number of clicks it takes for a user to reach a particular destination as a way to evaluate the quality of information architecture. This is not how many steps the process took. But whether each step should make sense to the user and whether it followed naturally from the previous step. Users will invariably favour a clearly defined seven-step process over a confusingly compressed three-step alternative. So information architecture of the site is built on an understanding of your objectives and the needs of your users. But if you want to accomplish effective IA be prepared to rework the architecture of your site accordingly.

Benefits of IA:

IA has the following benefits,
1) IA speedup the applications development process
2) Make your application easy to use
3) IA increase users’ loyalty.
4) By making the hierarchy visible it tells us what’s here, where are you? It also tells us what the site contains.
5) It tells us how to use the site. it tells you implicitly where to begin and what your options are. Done correctly, it should be all the instructions you need.
6) Without good IA there is no logical and effective user experience
7) Good IA makes it possible for a user to focus on their tasks

History of IA:

IA has roots in numerous fields and methodologies. It’s important to focus on two methodologies at the core of IA library science and cognitive psychology.

Libraries have always been associated with the practice of information science. Library science is the study of how to categorize and catalogue information resources. Both the art of categorizing (defining things by similarity) and cataloguing (find it again in the future)are extremely valuable for IA.

Historically information architecture has been concerned with the organization, grouping, ordering, presentation of content, library science, journalism, and technical communication. The history of IA goes as far into the past as ancient Egypt. Librarians in the library of Alexandria listed the content of the library on a 120-scroll bibliography.

Conclusion:

In conclusion this blog for spreading some of my thoughts and research about IA. I initially wanted to make this blog way shorter than it should be. But then I think I went overboard, talking about the things that may necessary for beginners and experts. However, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post as a newbie, not an experienced UXer. It’s more for me because there are many people around me who asked me to write IA blog. That was the motivation behind writing this blog.

I hope this article will be helpful for beginners and experts. This article takes you one step ahead in the UI/UX field. If you like it please comments on and share it with your friends.  If you need UI/UX services to let us direct contact or by Upwork. Stay in touch with Linkedin, FacebookPinterestDribbbleBehance, Upwork.

Now you know all about UX psychology, you may be interested in the following:
1) What is UX Design? Overview Dimensions and Elements
2) What is the User interface (UI) design? Conventions and Elements
3) User Experience and why it matters? 20 Reasons
4) The Elements of User Experience Design
5) What is the atomic design
6) User Personas
7) What is UX psychology and it’s principal



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