Information Architecture in UX

Introduction

Information architecture is a design discipline focused on organizing information to help users navigate and find the information they need. In UX design, well-designed information architecture is crucially important since it significantly enhances user experience and contributes greatly to achieving business goals.

Foundations of Information Architecture

Information ecology is the concept that information is not merely independent but always intricately connected to users, content, and context. This notion underscores the essential role of information architecture in enhancing user experience. Understanding how information relates to the environment and context, and designing accordingly, is crucial for delivering a positive user experience.

Foundations of Information Architecture

Information Architecture Components

Accurately grasping the elements that constitute information architecture can be challenging. This is because there are elements that users directly interact with, as well as elements that are hidden so deeply that users may not even be aware of their existence. There are various methods for classifying information architecture, but in this blog, I will introduce it categorized into the following four categories.

Organizing System

In an organizational system, decisions are made on how to classify items. This organizational system is commonly utilized in daily life. For instance, it can be challenging to find marshmallows or popcorn in an unfamiliar large supermarket. Generally, the following types of organizational systems are used:

Labeling System

In a labeling system, the choice of words used to represent information is determined. While utilizing terms that are easily understandable for users, it's crucial to create labels that accurately reflect the content. There are two formats for labels: text and icons. Examples of text labels include headers, navigation selections, context links, and index terms.

Navigation System

In a navigation system, the design focuses on how users browse and navigate through information. Navigation tools provide flexibility to the presented content and enable users to understand their current location and where they can proceed next. Navigation systems consist of three types: global navigation system, local navigation system, and context navigation system, all integrated within the pages or screens of a website or app.

Search System

In a search system, the design focuses on how users search for information. On large-scale websites, users cannot browse every corner of the site, so they rely on a search system. It's crucial to carefully consider what to index and how to display search results to users.

Information Architecture Design Process

Let me explain the process and methods for building information architecture. When developing websites or apps, a step-by-step approach like the one shown in the diagram below is necessary. I will provide detailed explanations for each process.

Information Architecture Design Process

Step1: Research

This initial stage aims to thoroughly understand the existing background information. Research is conducted from the perspectives of context, content, and users to gain a deep understanding. Below is a list of examples of tools and methods for conducting research.

Research

Step2: Strategy

This strategy process defines the top two levels of site and navigation structure. This strategy establishes a line of sight to guide the project through implementation and provides a high-level framework for the information architecture.

Step3: Design

This stage involves forming detailed site maps, wireframes, and metadata schemes. The outputs created here will be utilized by graphic designers, programmers, content creators, and production teams.

Step4: Implementation

In this process, testing of the constructed website or app begins to identify areas for design improvement. Additionally, documentation is developed and organized to ensure the efficient maintenance of information architecture over time.

Step5: Maintenance

This stage involves continuously evaluating and improving the information architecture of the website. Maintenance tasks include tagging new documents and deleting old ones as part of routine activities. Monitoring website usage patterns and collecting user feedback are also necessary, while opportunities for improvement are identified through significant or incremental investigations.

Conclusion

In this article, I focused on information architecture from a UX perspective. As UX designers, we aim to create designs that are "easy to find" and "easy to understand" to address challenges such as information overload and context diffusion. Designing for "easy to find" means organizing information according to users' needs. On the other hand, designing for "easy to understand" involves providing appropriate context to help users comprehend information. As information environments continue to become richer and more complex, information architecture will continue to evolve. Therefore, UX designers will need to maintain a constant learning mindset.