Structuring the user experience through effective organization.
Have you ever been on a website and gotten “lost?” User frustration is still the #1 reason people abandon a website. Optimizing the presentation of your website through effective organization means the difference between people finding what they want or becoming frustrated and clicking away from your site (and maybe on to a competitor’s)!
Information architecture is the discipline of defining the structure, organization, navigation, labeling, and indexing of a website. Classification decisions will not only be based upon current best practices, but also on specific case variables such as business goals and strategy, current size of the website and future expansion plans, your audience(s), etc.
With the increased migration of business applications and operations to delivery via web services, there has been a need to view data as a re-usable fluid resource. Data models that may have worked fine for web browsing in isolation may no longer serve the needs of the enterprise.
Wireframes are a common information architecture deliverable. Below are a few pages of a basic wireframe, created in Visio. The document highlights the layout, documentation styles and version control methods I use when working on wireframes as part of an information architecture project.
Download this sample Visio wireframe documentation (PDF, 101K)
Other Common Information Architecture Deliverables
- User flows & process flows
- Hierarchical site maps
User Experience Design
User experience design is a closely related field that covers all aspects of a user’s interaction with a website, interface, or web application. As with information architecture, user experience design efforts seek to positively impact the overall user experience of your site or application by clarifying, organizing and planning for your users.
The process of user experience design typically includes the following:
- Site flows and navigation maps (sitemaps)
- Personae analysis
- Use case scenario planning and testing
- Wireframe development
- Storyboard development
- Prototype development
- Specifications which describe the design or application
Do you need an information architect?
When should you have an information architect involved in your project? That’s simple—as early as possible! Information architects are a key part of any project team. They are invaluable anytime you:
- Design a website or web application interface
- Want to improve your site’s conversion
- Want to streamline a site’s usability
- Find that your site’s growth has outpaced your ability to resimplify it
Sound information architecture is invaluable for every informational, transactional or community-driven website.
Information Architecture and User Experience Services
- Sitemap planning
- Application prototyping
- Personae and use case analysis
- Interactive design