What is Information Architecture for UX Design and Why do You Need It?
Don’t you ever think that an attractive interface is enough for the users. Information that’s well-structured and easy to navigate is what makes them stay and keep using your product. That’s why you need to know what information architecture (IA) is and how you can apply it.
Usually, a seamless user experience is taken for granted while a bad experience sparks negative feedback instantly. Well, to make your intricate website or app user-friendly, you have to invest in designing its information architecture first. If used the right way, information architecture is your road to smooth user experience and delightful feedback from the satisfied users. Qubstudio is a huge fan of information architecture, and we’re here to talk about the role of IA in design, what it means for the user experience and how you apply it for the best results. Let’s go.
What Is Information Architecture (IA)?
The reality is harsh. If users have a bad experience with your website, web or mobile app, in 88% of cases they will never come back. And it takes only 0,05 seconds for the user to decide whether to stay or to leave. But a carefully designed information architecture will become the foundation of a solution your users will want to keep interacting with.
According to the Information Architecture Institute (yes, it’s a thing), information architecture is the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable. IA for UX design is a structure of knowledge and ideas that helps to make online content easy to find and the interface – user-friendly. Improved performance, convenience in use, effortless navigation – all these are the results of an information architecture built right.
You’ve probably already seen information architecture in practice. The way books are categorized in libraries is an excellent example. The system helps the librarian find the necessary book quickly and hassle-free. Just like that, you have to understand what the users expect to find when launching your app or website and provide them with the necessary things in as little clicks, scrolls and searches as possible.
The Role of Information Architecture in Design
Design in the absence of content is just a decoration. And decoration is no longer enough. You have to make sure people get value from using your website or application, and applying the principles of information architecture in design is the first step. This includes creating sitemaps, thinking the navigation through, deciding on the hierarchies and considering the categorizations.
But hold your horses. Locking up an information architect in a room with a computer, whiteboard and a coffee machine is not the way to go. You can’t create a solid IA without interacting with the entire design team. Information architecture is the skeleton you have to create before layering the functionality on it. When information architects cooperate with designers, the wholesome approach usually results in an elaborate IA and a delightful experience for the user.
Even the most eye-catching UI won’t save your web solution if the navigation frustrates its users. So, if you’re looking to create a high-quality web product, we recommend you to build the information architecture before you start designing the UI elements. True, this may take time and not every designer is skilled to create an IA. But doing things right from the very beginning is easier and cheaper than fixing issues that have already annoyed your customers.
What Is Information Architecture for UX?
User experience is everything the visitors do on your website, what they get from the interaction and the emotions it evokes. Well, information architecture is all the job done before that: the actions of the whole team aimed to satisfy the customers and solve their tasks or problems quickly.
To make the interaction between your users and the web product seamless, the UX has to be logical and goal-oriented. This means clear navigation and no excessive elements or information that can distract the user from the primary goal. Implementing information architecture and knowing your users, their struggles and desires are two critical factors that can help you with that.
Tips on How to Apply IA for UX
Have we managed to convince you that information architecture is essential for UX design? If so, let us also share some tips our Qubstudio professionals use to build a proper IA.
Know your users
You need to solve the user’s problem efficiently, quickly and easy – that’s a no-brainer. But the key is knowing what the problem actually is. Luckily, there are many tools for that. You can create persona cards, run user research, make questionnaires, use other specific UX tools, etc. The point is that businesses have to listen to their customers, take their necessities and desires into account and not make them think for too long.
Understand your purpose
Sure, you have to know your customer. But you also need to have an excellent understanding of your website and its goals. What’s important to your brand? What is it that made you start this website or app in the first place? What’s the purpose of the entire website? How can the users help you meet your goal? It’s a good idea to try and sum up your business in a couple of words. This will help you see the goal and focus on it whenever you feel off the track. Is the goal to sell? Is it to entertain? Educate?
Your industry or niche plays a significant role in determining the purpose too. If you’re an online store, your goal is, clearly, to sell. This means that the AI has to funnel the user to the purchase. If it’s a blog, the AI has to make the reader glide from one article to another.
Make sure the structure is logical and attractive
Structuring information may sound easy, but it requires a lot of work. The card sorting method is one of the ways to make this task easier. The idea is that you use cards (any cards) to organize topics into categories. This is great for building the website structure, choosing what goes on the homepage and classifying categories and navigation. Here’s where you kill two birds with one stone: the structure that’s easily understandable also becomes pleasant to the eyes. Intuitivity will make your website or app attractive (but that doesn’t mean that you can skip on the UI design).
Show people what they expect to see
Always use corresponding recognition patterns, something that coincides with the idea the visitors have about the product or service they need. If users are browsing through a gift certificate website, you have to show them real photos of happy people experiencing whatever the certificate offers. Then, give any additional information they require in the tone of voice they want to hear: the details about the certificate, the price, the possible preparation, other steps or requirements, etc.
Depending on the page type, the content and page design should be corresponding.
|Interactive page||An interactive page should include fun, educational and easy-to-read content. The more, the better.|
|Sales page||A sales page should consist of the necessary information about the products or services you sell, like characteristics, price, payment options, etc.|
|Landing page||A landing page should contain a directed sales copy, a registration form users have to fill in to access exclusive products or services in exchange for personal info.|
A sales page design won’t work for those who came for fun or entertainment. Similarly, people who came to buy a vacuum cleaner wouldn’t want to read about the history of vacuum cleaners. Give your users what they came for and they’ll return.
Create a user flow scheme
In other words, make an order of actions the user should accomplish at your website. For instance, if users are looking for male winter shoes, here are the logical steps they are most likely to take. First, the user has to choose the season (winter) and the type (shoes). Then, the size, the height, the material, etc. The website should automatically narrow the selection down from 220 to 20 items. When the user picks the model they’ve liked, the page should show the details, photos, available colors, reviews and other item-related info. The user then can add the item to the cart or save to the “Favorites” list, etc.
A user flow doesn’t have to be linear since it has to take different actions into account. And along with being an indispensable part of IA, a thoroughly designed user flow scheme is a great way to optimize the UX.
Sadly, everyone knows what lousy user experience is from experience. But once more companies realize the importance of proper information design, there will be far less infuriated and puzzled users.
Creating information architecture is essential for all types of websites with a collection of products, pages or items so big that trivial navigation won’t suffice. Online stores, news platforms, website directories all need to implement information architecture in their design. The reasons are threefold: first, more satisfied customers; second – lower bounce rate; third – reliability and popularity.
To build a logical and effective information architecture, you have to understand your users as well as your own goals, structure information accordingly, create a user flow scheme and understand what types of pages they expect to see. Or ask a professional to do that.
Qubstudio’s specialists know the process inside out and always comply with the information architecture principles. So, contact us anytime and we’ll gladly help you build an excellent IA for your UX.