In a world where everything is online, it is important that information is easy to navigate and find. When going to a website, we want users to find information they desire quickly and efficiently. To do this, we use informational architecture to structure our website… but what exactly IS that?
What Is Information Architecture?
Information architecture (also known as IA or site map) is the science of organizing and structuring all of the content on a website. Part of the importance of information architecture is understanding how to structure information to meet user expectations.
To help users navigate a website, there are many factors to consider when structuring content. Some include:
- Target audience: it is crucial to know who you are trying to organize content for
- Type of product: different websites trying to promote different products will be structured differently.
Essentially, the point of information architecture is to help the user orient themselves with your website. There are certain IA principles that are crucial to a nicely organized website including visual elements, functionality, interaction, and navigation. These are all crucial to an easy to navigate website so that all aspects flow together and make one cohesive experience.
Information Architecture Diagram
Information architecture diagram
Why Is IA Important?
When a visitor comes to a website, they expect to be able to find things quickly. For example, when going to the Apple website one expects to easily navigate and find all options for laptops. If the website organization makes it difficult to find the content they are looking for, they’ll become frustrated and leave. This drives away potential business, and can result in revenue loss.
Well thought out information architecture can take some time initially, but in the long run it will make your website easier to navigate and improve user satisfaction. It will also create a solid foundation to save money on improvements to your website that might be required in the future.
How Is IA Organized?
IA is organized into three primary organization structures to optimize your website’s user experience:
- Hierarchical: classify content based upon user expectations and intent
- Sequential: create a path for the users while they make a purchase
- Matrix: provide users a choice on how they organize the data they see (such as by date)
There are many other organizational schemes that can be utilized to help improve the functionality of the website. They focus on different ways you can organize content to make it easier and more presentable to the user scenario (for example, alphabetical or chronological).
Taking some time to set up a strong IA structure initially will improve usability, and should be a part of any web design project. The choices made at the beginning of your project can help prevent funding to fix these issues down the road. Most importantly, it gives the website user the opportunity to easily navigate your website and find what they need.
Clutch Creative is a Burlington, Vermont based web design and digital creative agency that can help you organize your website content and improve user satisfaction. We offer a variety of UX services to optimize your website’s navigation and organization. We provide insight and powerful marketing solutions to any business, no matter the scale. Please contact us, and we would love to talk to you about our information architecture strategies and approaches, and how we can benefit your business.