Information Architecture : Jargon Buster
Information Architecture is a term that you might hear a lot during the early stages of planning a web development project. It’s used by project manager types like me to describe the way information is organised within a website and the paths visitors will use to get to it.
Bad information architecture is like an unordered shop with products grouped randomly and mixed in with each other on the shelves. Or it could be perfectly orderly but completely illogical, like grouping food items by colour or height rather than type.
Effective information architecture achieves a grouping of information that is logical and intuitive. Not only that, but the journey to that information should be equally intuitive.
Information architecture therefore concerns itself with some of the core elements of a website’s design and structure, from the labelling of items in the navigation down to the directory structure within which the pages sit.
Common outputs from IA planning are sitemaps, navigation plans and webpage wireframes.
There are some common conventions to fall back on, especially when it comes to labelling popular content types. But there isn’t a boilerplate to use for good information architecture because no two sites are really the same. The people visiting and contexts in which they’ll be doing so, the content available and the particular business goals of the site itself will all affect the model of effective information architecture for a particular website.
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