Defining information architecture
"But isn't information architecture about making sitemaps, wireframes, and website navigation menus?"
Well, yes -- but there is much more to this story!
The structural design of shared information environments
The synthesis of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems within digital, physical, and cross-channel ecosystems
The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability, findability, and understanding
An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape
We’re concerned with information of all shapes and sizes: websites, documents, software applications, images, and more. We’re also concerned with metadata: terms used to describe and represent content objects such as documents, people, processes, and organizations.
structuring, organizing, & labeling
Structuring involves determining the appropriate levels of granularity for information, and how to relate them to one another. Organizing involves grouping those components into meaningful and distinctive categories, creating the right contexts for users to understand the environment they are in and what they’re looking at. Labeling means figuring out what to call those categories and the navigation structure elements that lead to them.
finding & managing
If users can’t find what they need through some combination of browsing, searching, and asking, then the system fails. An information architecture must balance the needs of users with the goals of the business.
art & science
We’re increasingly able to study patterns of usage and subsequently make improvements to our websites. Information architects must rely on experience, intuition, and creativity.