Becoming an Information Architect: 6 Simple Steps to Creating Your First Design

Determining the site map–where information is accessed, what it is called, and where it fits into the overall site search hierarchy– informs the site structure in its entirety. It’s well worth it for the information Architect to spend the time and resources to get this right at the outset as the site map guides all the work that follows. And finally, the wireframes, the blueprints of Information Architects. Wireframes are page-level schematics designed for communication and represent the kinds of content you see on the screen of a website or app.

what does an information architect do

It can navigate a user through a multi-stage process or a complex website. You can decide on the best option for location and menu type by conducting an A/B and multivariate testing for conversion optimization. When working on navigation, remember that no matter which pages the visitors come from, they must be able to easily locate what they are looking for. The terms IA and navigation are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are not the same since navigation is just a part of IA.

Information Architect Education

Because they see “About” labels on other websites, visitors can guess what it means on that website too. It keeps you from getting lost on the subway, helps you reach your new dentist’s office on time, and keeps you from walking into the kitchen at your favorite restaurant. They also create logical comparisons with new data as you take it in.

what does an information architect do

If a website already has content, go through that first and decide what to keep and what to get rid of. But, the most valuable content will not get discovered if the information architecture is bad, which is bad news for both the user and for the business. In his quest to design a good site structure, information architect Dan Brown laid out 8 principles that he keeps coming back to. In fact, one of the first mentions of IA happened in the early 1970s, when XEROX Labs addressed the need for information structuring practices, and developed technology that would support it. Librarians in the library of Alexandria listed the content of the library on a 120-scroll bibliography.

Information Architect

This approach allows you to understand how the users think in terms of classification. The next step involves grouping content into different categories. Now, assess its accuracy, style of presentation, and usefulness. Then, scrap the least important items, refresh outdated pieces of content, and rearrange them for the next steps. This activity is applicable both to new products and to app or website redesigns.

what does an information architect do

They should be able to find jewelry under the sub-category of accessories, the author’s name on a blog post, and so on. Because whether you choose to create global navigation menus, sidebars, or breadcrumbs, navigation is key to a great user experience. To create categories that work for the largest audience, start with your full list of content. Next, apply your user research to prioritize and group that content. Each information architecture project is unique, so the order of the steps might vary.

The Principle of Focused Navigation

The six purple boxes represent the major sections of the museum’s website — but user research and testing showed that not all six were considered equally important. The other parts of the sitemap show what content would appear above the navbar in the header (“utility information architecture web design navigation”), the content area of the page (“news, events, exhibit” and the search box), and the footer. You might have a category for women’s apparel that only contains shirts and pants right now. But, over time you can add more sub-categories like dresses or shoes.

  • Below is the IA for a mobile app from UX designer Bogomolova Anfisa.
  • Most information architects have bachelor’s degrees, but salaries increase with higher degrees.
  • In the past few years, IA Summit has also made a point of tackling the new challenges coming to the field as a result of greater digital ecosystems and the Internet of Things.
  • You can also use competitor research to inform your categorization efforts.

Billed as an “information architecture validation software,” Treejack lets IAs input a site hierarchy, set up tasks, and recruit users. Then they can see the results of the unmoderated test, and share or download the results. XMind is yet another mapping software, with the added benefit of allowing IAs to save their maps to Evernote. They offer a full library of maps for users to share their finished work or see others’ work.

How to Keep Your Site Running Smoothly When Your Team Is on Holiday Break

Before accepting a job offer, you even need to pass the Architect Registration Examination. Microsoft Visio is a premium tool that offers dozens of premade templates, diagrams, and stencils to help you start diagramming your IA. The latest version comes with even more features to help you create professional sitemaps. Team members can also view, comment, and share Visio diagrams to improve collaboration.

what does an information architect do

If you have limited time and resources, you can make educated guesses. But it’s best to do frequent user testing and to use that research to inform each section. Tree testing can help you see how your users respond to navigation and labels.

Take the next step toward your future.

Ideally, the information architect should be responsible solely for the site’s architecture, and not for its other aspects. It can be distracting to be responsible for other, more tangible aspects of the site, such as its graphic identity. In this case, the site’s architecture can easily, if unintentionally, get relegated to secondary status because the architect is concentrating, naturally, on the tangible features. Show a preview of information that will help users understand what kind of information is hidden if they dig deeper. Such a claim would seem to take the above-mentioned definitions and expand them far beyond the traditional spheres of control for most IAs.