Information architects make websites make sense. Their work overlaps with that of graphic designers, user experience experts, project managers, and front-end developers. But while designers focus on colour and typography and developers deal with code, the organisation of information is the information architect’s main gig. Just like the architect of a building makes decisions about placement of columns, windows and doors, a web page architect might ask, “What information belongs on our home page? Should we put team bios on our About page or with our contact information? Will more people click this button if we put it on the right instead of the left?”
If you work in web design, you’ve probably heard the term “information architecture”. But what is information architecture, anyway? The Information Architecture Institute, the world’s authority on the subject, defines IA as:
The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support usability and findability.
There are 3 main steps in the Architecture Process
First, an Information Architect will do some research
He or she will learn as much as possible about the group for whom the website is being created. More importantly, an IA will learn about the website’s ideal users. Through usability tests and polls, he or she will find out how people will likely use a site.
Next, Information Architects Analyse Data
They take results of usability tests into account to help a website accomplish its goals. They may create “user personas”—profiles of a website’s dream users that help web design teams create websites with people in mind.
Finally, Information Architects flesh out the structure of the website
They combine user personas and feedback from real users to decide how a website should be laid out. The product of information architects’ work at this step is usually a diagram of all pages to be included in a site and their relationship to one another—also known as a sitemap.