What is Information Architecture?

Information architecture (IA) is a science of organizing and structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software.

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Understanding FSD

A science of organizing and structuring

In a nutshell, information architecture (IA) is a science of structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. IA study aims at organizing content so that users would easily adjust to the functionality of the product and could find everything they need without big effort.

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Creating the FSD

Content inventory

Before we start constructing a layout of the product, we take time to understand what elements your project will consist of. One of the first stages of building information architecture is called content inventory. The technique considers creating a list of the components for the future design project. The inventory list usually includes various elements such as title, author/provider, meta elements (keywords, description, tags), copy, images, audio, video, and document files.


Organization systems

These are the groups or the categories in which the information is divided. Such system helps users to predict where they can find certain information easily. There are three main organizational structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

1. Hierarchical

It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory and its main goal is to present content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element.

2. Sequential

This structure creates some kind of a path for the users. They go step-by-step through content to accomplish the task they needed. This type is often used for the retail websites or apps, where people have to go from one task to another.

3. Matrix

This type is a bit more complicated for the users since they choose the way of navigation on their own. Users are given choices of content organization. For example, they can navigate through content according to date, topic, etc.

4. Alphabetical

Content is organized in alphabetical order. This scheme works best when users know exactly what they’re looking for and it can serve as a navigation tool for the users.

5. Audience

The type of content organization for separate groups of users i.e educational resources divide the information according to the skill level of the learners.

6. Chronological

This type organizes content by date and time. It is often used on news websites, event apps, some UI componentsblogs and in most cases document and archive libraries.

Planning the navigation system

Information structure and navigation are two essential components of any digital product. Navigation is defined as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The navigation system, in terms of IA, involves the ways how users move through content.

Navigation of a digital product is based on the information architecture, so it’s vital to make sure it reflects and supports IA, otherwise the product may be unsolid. Therefore, designers are recommended to plan the navigation system while creating information architecture of the product.

Creating the FSD

Things to consider

The science of information architecture may seem too complicated and demand much efforts but when you learn its basics and start applying them in design projects, you see how useful it is. Summing up the set of Tubik articles devoted to this theme, we’d like to single out a few main points.

The backbone

IA forms a skeleton of any design project for a digital product. Visual elements, functionality, interactions, and navigation are built according to the information architecture principles.

The foundation

Powerful IA is a guarantee of the high-quality product mitigating poor usability and navigation. Good information architecture is a foundation of efficient user experience.

The blueprint

Information architecture is like a blueprint of the layout which needs to be generated by a visual scheme like a wireframe. Defining product goals is a core stage before IA creation.

The research

User research and cognitive psychology principles assist in predicting possible users’ reactions to the product and creating a user-friendly outcome.

Visual hierarchy

Clear visual hierarchy plays a significant role in the visual performance of the content giving stakeholers clear direction of content structure and IA flow.

Forecasting

IA forms a skeleton of any design project for a digital product. Visual elements, functionality, interactions, and navigation are built according to the information architecture principles.