What is Information Architecture?
Information Architecture is a word now widely used when discussing the science and art of designing websites and other online projects like intranets and social networks with regards to their usability and user journeys.
So what does this mean?
Basically it means creating a blueprint for your website that defines how the content will sit and how best to display it, so the user gets the best possible experience and the reason for the website is being met.
It’s important that before I design a website I have an idea of what the client wants to achieve. You may have very important information to give to the world, you may have a series of products that need to be categorized correctly so the customer is able to find them without having to search hard and quickly leaving your site to go somewhere else. Or it’s quite possible that your site needs to change when a user makes a particular choice.
There are many variables but at base level it begins with evidence gathering and then systematically organising the content of the website and how it will flow to achieve the goal desired.
While working with FENSA as a consultant I had to rebuild their website, taking into consideration their user journey and how they wanted the user to interact with the website. They had two sections to the site and one section had to lead, whilst the other played a secondary role.
A problem they had was that their current website was creating all sorts of user journey issues and their customers were never getting to the information they required them too.
To begin with, I discussed with the Managing Director of FENSA what he wanted to achieve, what his thoughts on the new website were and if he had any particular requests or desires for the new website.
Following this I gathered all the data from their website and restructured it, building a wireframe, you can view it here: FENSA prototype.
This provided an excellent idea of how the content on the website would sit and how the user could interact with it. It also provided a foundation on which to start designing and finally building the website, with the knowledge that the user journey was correct and that the information won’t be compromised by making it fit into a design, rather that the design will take into account the information and create accordingly.
You can view the FENSA website here: www.fensa.co.uk and compare it with the prototype. As you can see, apart from a few aesthetic changes, the website has been built according to the wireframe.