Rosenfeld and Morville give these alternative definitions to an information architecture:
- The combination of organisation, labelling, and navigation, schemes within the information system.
- The structural design of an information space to facilitate task completion and intuitive access to content.
- The art and science of structuring and classifying websites and intranets to help people find and manage information.
- An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital space.
In practice, creation of an information architecture involves creating a plan to group information logically – it involves creating a site structure which is often represented as site map. A well-developed information architecture is very important to usability since it determines navigation options and findability (Morville, 2005).
A planned information architecture is essential to large-scale websites such as transactional e-commerce sites, media owners sites and relationship-building that include a large volume of product and support documentation. Information architectures are less important to small-scale websites and brand sites, but even here the principles can be readily applied and can make the site more visible to search engines and more usable. It is also important for search engine optimisation, since it determines how different types of content that users may search for are labelled and grouped.
The benefits of creating an information architecture include:
- A defined structure and categorisation of information will support user and organisation goals i.e. vital aspect of usability.
- It helps to increase “flow” on the site – a user’s mental model of where to find content should mirror that of the content on the website.
- Search engine optimisation – a higher listing in search rankings can often be used through structuring and labelling information in a structured way.
- Applicable for integrating offline communications – offline communications such as ads or direct mail can link to a product or campaign landing page to help achieve direct response sometimes known as “web response”. A sound URL strategy can help this.
- Related content can be grouped to measure the effectiveness of a website as part of design for analysis.
Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.
Website must deliver relevance and satisfactory online experience for its audience, support and add value to the brand to deliver results for the company.
The main tasks are as follows: pre-development tasks, analysis and design, content development testing, publishing or launching the site.
Typical profiles of team members follow: site sponsors, site owner, project manager, site designer, content developer, webmaster.
Prototypes are trial versions of a website that are gradually refined through an iterative process to become closer to the final version.
The goal of agile development is to be able to create stable release more frequently than traditional development methodologies.
Key requirements for an online presence: business requirements and user requirements which comprise usability, accessibility and information needs.
Customer-centricity for website design is the decision whether to include specific content for particular countries. This is referred to as localization.
Benchmarking of competitors’ websites is vital in positioning a website to compete effectively with competitors that already have websites.
Using card sorting is a way in which users can become actively involved in the development process of information architecture. Learn more.