As the capabilities of technology and software grow, our need to create digital structures that facilitate effective communication grow with it.
Enter Information Architecture. If you haven’t heard the term before, we wouldn’t be surprised. Information Architecture, or IA, is a relatively new—but highly essential—area of the web design process.
It is in a sense where we do some of the toughest work in creating your design. As defined by the Information Architecture Institute, IA is: “the art and science of organising and labelling web sites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability.”
I would venture to say it is the complex art of building a site vision that your customer loves to use and that positively represents your brand, all the while striving to solve problems before they appear.
In order for the Information Architect to do this, s/he must target four main areas:
1. Your target audience
2. The technologies and functionalities related to your website
3. The data contained in the website
4. The positive user experience of the website
Similar to a city planner or actual architect, the Information Architect will collate data, research your business, create wireframes (more on those in a minute) and present you with a plan.
After meeting with you to ascertain your future site’s requirements, like architects, they will formulate wireframes for your site. These will illustrate how the site will work and be laid out from a practical perspective. A web designer will come later and create the visual design of the site—the colours, fonts, and images—so at first glance, these wireframes will not look much unlike the floor plan of a house, a pdf of boxes, blocks, outlines and text.
From this essential piece of information the site builders and web designers will come in, building your “house” and filling it with all the items you wanted.
Information Architects perform a crucial role. They do the head-work to make sure your site works while holding together a unified vision of what you want for your site, your brand and your site’s users.