Information Architecture

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In Introduction to IA

What is information architecture?

Information architecture (IA) is a broad term that covers the process of identifying, collecting, sorting, and displaying information and raw data in a logical fashion that is approachable and easy to comprehend for end users. 

What does information architecture consist of?

The work within information architecture typically falls in the hands of a user experience (UX) team and is based on the results obtained from UX research. Where UX research answers the who, what, and why questions, IA proceeds to answer how that information will be displayed in a pleasing manner. This work is accomplished by an Information Architect or a UX designer that creates site maps, wireframes, user flows, as well as style guides, pattern libraries, and design systems. A UI designer also creates a high-fidelity mockup.

  • Site Maps – often based on the results of card sorting exercises, used to identify the page categories, hierarchy, and organization for the site.
  • Wireframes – akin to a blueprint of a house, provide a low-fidelity outline of the content blocks that make up each page.
  • User Flows – mapping desired user movement and behavior throughout a page or site; an example includes customer journey mapping.
  • Style Guides – a document that contains all of the various design principles, design elements, brand styles, best practices and use cases for quick reference.
  • Pattern Libraries – a digital system of reusable components, patterns, elements, and styles—including code snippets—and their correct use cases.
  • Design Systems – a holistic digital collection of style guides, pattern libraries, language and tone references, coding components, and context of how to best use each element to represent the brand.
  • High-Fidelity Mockups – pixel-perfect, polished renderings of page layouts and their components, typically produced in Photoshop, XD, or Sketch; often called eye candy.

What is the purpose of information architecture?

The IA represents the documented path from conception to finished designs to code snippets that connect everything together for a seamless, integrated, intuitive, and cohesive experience. A well organized, intuitive website that is based on sound UX research and user testing, and one that accurately expresses your brand identity, language, and tone through all channels and touch points is something to strive for.

What role does information architecture play in your marketing strategy?

Information architecture is both the backbone of your content’s organization as well as the visual design language your customers see through your site and outreach channels.

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