Information architecture (IA), in product design, refers to the process of organising, structuring, and labelling content in a way that makes it easy to find, access, and understand. This includes identifying user needs and goals, categorising information, and developing a navigation system that enables users to move through the product with ease.
IA plays a critical role in the design process as it helps to ensure that the product is intuitive and meets the needs of its intended audience. It provides a framework for organising content and functionality, which helps to optimise the user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI).
The IA design process involves several steps, including research and analysis, content inventory, categorization, and testing. It requires a deep understanding of the user's needs, behaviours, and preferences, and an ability to translate this into a clear and concise structure.
In short: Information Architecture is the organisation of information in the most logical way to ensure the best human-to-product interaction.
It must start with determining the main user goals. Information architecture is an element of UX design, and it starts with understanding people and their reasons to use a product or service we are building. Once the designer understands how a user behaves and seeks information, we can design a successful sitemap, website navigation, user flows, and more.
There are two major requirements for actually constructing IA: organising it through a visual hierarchy (that is, a hierarchy of features, functions, and behaviour) and creating a legend for displaying different types of features, interactions, and flows. - James Pikover
User Needs - According to Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld (Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, 3rd edition), the IA of a website needs to address different user needs. Those are:
The simple information architecture of a website that takes into account mainly the website's navigation.
The second example is an more extensive information architecture(IA Blueprint) prepared by Duke in 2013. Its new IA would have six main categories:
Organization systems, also called classification systems, categorize information. A system can be:
Further read: Organization system concept by Berkley.
To create XML file sitemaps online, you can use tools as:
But these generate sitemaps based on crawling and indexing your website.
To design sitemaps, navigation, and user flows online, you can use such platforms as:
How to Reverse Engineer an Information Architecture by James Pikover
Information architecture is a crucial part of the UX process of Product Design. It helps to ensure that the product is well-organised, easy to use and meets the needs of its users. By following the IA design process, designers can create products that are intuitive, efficient, and enjoyable to use for their Users. A deep UX understanding will lead to better assimilation of information on the website by potential clients thus it will lead to better sales, ROI, and better achievement of business goals.