Professional designers and user interface design firms always try to come up with new tools to make their lives easier. One of the most difficult moments of their jobs is to communicate their idea to others, especially developers and other members of their team. Information Architecture is a tool aimed at eliminating this difficulty. Let’s learn more about it.
What Is Information Architecture?
It is the DNA of the project. Whatever you create determines the subsequent incarnations and existence of the given project for years to come. Also, it is an essential part of the design documentation. The architecture should look neat and be easy to read so that it isn’t embarrassing to attach it to the work statement or the project’s contract. Now, let’s dive deeper.
Why the Team Needs Information Architecture
The task of the designer is to convey to all the team members what they are doing and why. In addition to user experience, they form an emotional background that should accompany users along the way. For example, let’s say a company wants to motivate the customers to buy their product out of fear. You, as an architect, must take this into account in the IA and develop tension for the user. Another company, on the contrary, may use reliability or happiness and sell this particular image to their clients. This impression is created by the details – what words you use and how you push the user to make decisions. Information architecture will help you as a professional in UX/UI design broadcast these emotions and other little, yet important, details to the other members of your team.
What Are Some Other Functions of IA?
You create a scheme where you constantly put yourself in the user’s place. Do you understand his needs correctly? Is using the product convenient for him? Does he achieve his goals? Is he satisfied? IA aids in answering all these questions.
Visual Demonstration of Conceptual Ideas
It is convenient to immediately show all the conceptual ideas of the product in one simple diagram.
Design and Developer Guide
Prototype, design, and layout might not be ready yet, but designers and developers are already beginning to understand what they will soon have to deal with. So they ask questions. For example, where does the information from the section come from? Will it be necessary to interact with databases here? And other relevant questions.
Developers can give important advice when they see the IA. For example, assess the cost of work, the ability to implement specific features, and begin to prepare for the next stages of development.
Ensuring the Viability of the User’s Ecosystem
Disharmony in IA immediately attracts attention, and you can think and correct it at an early stage. Accordingly, the result will be more viable.
Understanding a Service or Site as a Single Product
Team members see not only their limited branch but all conceptual ideas and the product as a whole on one diagram.
Common Information Architecture Design Patterns
There are several common IA design patterns. Choose the one that you like the best.
It can be represented in the form of a mental map, tree view, or logical view. Some elements dominate at the top of the page, and other elements like text, buttons, menu items are emerging from it like branches from a tree.
More visual and more accessible to the unprepared eye. The script allows you a deeper understanding of the work of the project and helps avoid defaults, which later will certainly emerge as problems during the next stages of development.
The sequential design pattern requires the user to go step by step according to a certain scenario: for example, showing the optimal purchase or registration scenario.
The matrix structure allows the user not to depend on the will of the designer, who puts him in a hierarchical or scenario framework but allows him to choose any way he likes. Such “freedom” is illusory since the possibilities of choice are predetermined and limited by the goals of the project – the overarching idea of the designers. The matrix format can also draw upon a hierarchical scheme using horizontal transitions and the indication of a “trap.”
Database models are such a pattern when each information object has a set of metadata, in which the structuring of the content can occur per request, as often as necessary. It is the most user-friendly model with proper support for the interface.
Information architecture is not a dry, invariable structure. Instead, it is all about user interaction. Visualization of IA allows you as a UX/UI designer to introduce clients, investors and team members into the essence of the project in five minutes and not forget what you designed for the prototype development stage.