Information architecture (IA) is how content is organised online, including how information is grouped and labelled. In a well-designed website with good IA, information is presented under logical headings and pathways so users can easily find what they need.
You can find many online guides to developing good IA. Briefly, good IA and content should be built from 3 perspectives that are complementary and equally important:
- Users. This perspective ensures that the website is easy for a user to navigate. It looks at who the main groups of users are, and at their
- needs (ie what they want to know or what they want to do)
- expectations and understanding (ie what they might already know about a subject)
- behaviour (ie what pathways they are likely to use to find information; user behaviour is usually discovered through user testing).
- Content. This perspective ensures that the website presents information in the most effective way. It looks at whether
- the groups and labels will work well for the content (ie whether they reflect the site’s aims and messages, and the breadth, depth and meaning of the content)
- there will be a good spread of content in each category (ie not 60 pages in one category and 2 pages in another)
- labels have parallel construction
- the structure is robust enough to allow content to be expanded without decreasing navigability (eg if a heading is too general, it may be added to over time and become a long list of subsections that is harder for users to navigate).
- Context. This perspective is about the goals and constraints for the site, such as
- what the site owner wants to say or achieve with the site
- whether there are any rules about content, such as accessibility guidelines
- whether the site will be regularly updated or expanded.
This section covers: