Information Architecture

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Information Architecture is the design and organization of content, pages, and data into a structure that aids users' understanding of a system. A more organized system enables users to easily find the information they require and complete the intended tasks. To create an effective information architecture you need to understand the relationship between the content and the interoperability of the system you are designing. A flow or hierarchy is often established with IA that allows users to understand where they are, and where they can go next. Information Architecture is a discipline of its own and can be performed by specialists or any other members of a design team. An Information architect's output can be expressed visually through: site maps, wireframes, navigation, taxonomic designs, metadata and more.[1]

Information architecture has somewhat different meanings in different branches of Information systems or Information technology:

  • The structural design of shared information environments.
  • The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities, and software to support findability and usability.
  • An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
  • The combination of organization, labeling, search and navigation systems within websites and intranets.
  • Extracting required parameters/data of Engineering Designs in the process of creating a knowledge-base linking different systems and standards.
  • A blueprint and navigational aid to the content of information-rich systems.
  • A subset of data architecture where usable data (a.k.a. information) is constructed in and designed or arranged in a fashion most useful or empirically holistic to the users of this data.
  • The practice of organizing the information / content / functionality of a web site so that it presents the best user experience it can, with information and services being easily usable and findable (as applied to web design and development).[8]
  • The conceptual framework surrounding information, providing context, awareness of location and sustainable structure.

The difficulty in establishing a common definition for "information architecture" arises partly from the term's existence in multiple fields. In the field of systems design, for example, information architecture is a component of enterprise architecture that deals with the information component when describing the structure of an enterprise.

While the definition of information architecture is relatively well-established in the field of systems design, it is much more debatable within the context of online information(i.e., websites). Andrew Dillon refers to the latter as the "big IA–little IA debate". In the little IA view, information architecture is essentially the application of information science to web design which considers, for example, issues of classification and information retrieval. In the big IA view, information architecture involves more than just the organization of a website; it also factors in user experience, thereby considering usability issues of information design.[2]

See Also