A free comprehensive guide for evaluating site structures
Information Architecture (IA) concerns itself with the very broad (overall site structure and navigation) and the very detailed (labeling and content).
Early in the design process, information architects look at the scope and state of their content, and ask questions such as:
- How much of this content are we keeping/deleting/adding?
- Which content is up to date? Which needs reworking for our target audiences?
- How will we organize the content? What do our users mentally group this material?
- Can we standardize terms, and if so, which terms should we use?
Later in the design process, information architects shift to thinking about how users will find what they’re looking for, including basic elements such as:
- Global navigation (global and contextual)
- Search (content and metadata)
Once a prototype or working site is up and running, information architects want to see how all of these factors combine with interaction design, visual design, and actual content to get users to the answers they want. Typically they find out by using traditional UX evaluation methods such as:
- Usability testing (in-person or remote)
- Analytics (page visits, abandons, etc.)
If done properly, IA doesn’t just happen at the beginning of the project; it progresses from beginning to middle to end.