Just because you’re a good designer doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be aware of the latest technologies and methodologies. In fact, a UX designer can improve professional skills by constant learning. Along with other sciences, designers must learn and study information architecture. IA can help them with their workflow. Some companies and designers believe that information architecture is the foundation of efficient UI and UX design. What are your thoughts about it?Don’t worry if you don’t know much about information architecture because, in this article, we’ll discuss how UX design and information architecture go hand-in-hand? So, without any further ado, let’s start the article.
What is information architecture (IA) and is it important?
It’s like a blueprint, and IA is a visual representation of the infrastructure, hierarchy, and features of a product. Moreover, it’s up to the designer how much detail they want to use. IA includes application functions and behaviors, navigation, content, and flows. More interestingly, there is no shape or size limit of IA. But the best practice is it should encompass the generalized product structure. It will help everyone understand how the product works.
Information architecture is like a blueprint and it provides the development and designer team a bird’s-eye view of the product. More importantly, this single document can go a long way. It can help in updating existing features, developing new ones, and what other changes can be made to a product to make it more valuable.
IA is an excellent tool for designers because it makes it easier for them to make key decisions about implementing new features. Moreover, it helps them understand user behavior and timelines for product changes throughout the process. So, in simple words, IA looks like a short document, but it can make the designer’s and development team’s lives easy.
Are information architecture and UX the same?
No, they’re not, but there is a connection between them. In UX, you’ll see a great involvement of IA, but they’re not the same. For example, UX is a broader term. It covers various aspects that IA doesn’t touch, such as UX responding to users’ certain psychological needs and ensuring that the interface is pleasant. On the other hand, information architecture is focused on cognitive effort usage and user’s goals.
Both these concepts go hand in hand. For example, you can’t have a logical and effective UX without good IA. IA sets the foundation on which interface and other aspects of UX design are developed. So, now it must be clear that these two things are different, but they go hand-in-hand.
How to apply information architecture in UX design
So far, we have discussed what IA is and why it is important in UX design. Now, we’ll move forward to see how we can apply information architecture in UX design?
Keep product goals in mind
Product goals influence both designer and developer teams working on the project. Therefore, it’s important to be familiar with the client’s expectations about a website or mobile application before you start building the information structure of a website. Without proper product goals, it’s impossible to see the whole picture and achieve the product vision.
Product goals should be understandable to all team members, and they must respond to product strategy. Proper awareness makes it easy for the teams to understand from where they should start. With proper goals, the designers and clients can be on the same page, and it will avoid possible misunderstandings in the future.
Conduct user research
Information architecture experts prioritize user satisfaction, and they pay attention to users’ needs. Designers can conduct user research to get more information about potential users. Designers can use different techniques to collect information from the consumers. Once the data is collected, the designer and development team will analyze it and work on optimal solutions to make the end product attractive and user-friendly.
User research helps designers and information architecture experts in many ways. For example, they can get deep insights into their needs and preferences. As a result, they can produce a user-friendly product to get consumers’ attention.
Consider cognitive psychology principles
If you want to know the factors affecting the user’s attention, your team must be able to learn cognitive psychology principles. It’s a science that helps designers learn what’s inside their minds. Based on these principles, designers can develop techniques to create powerful content. Recognition patterns are often applied in design.
Now you might be wondering what recognition patterns are? When people use a certain application or visit a website, they expect to see certain features that are associated with a product. Therefore, designers implement and use recognition patterns to satisfy user needs.
Plan navigation system carefully
Navigation system and information architecture are essential components of any digital product. Navigation is a set of actions and techniques that guides users throughout the website or an app. More importantly, it helps them successfully interact with the product and fulfill their needs.
When we talk about the navigation system in terms of IA, it shows how users can move through the content. The navigation system should reflect and support IA because digital products are based on them. Otherwise, the product will not be valuable. That’s why it’s the responsibility of the designers to plan the navigation system carefully while creating the product’s information architecture.
Visual hierarchy is also crucial
Visual hierarchy is a well-known technique that helps designers prioritize and organize content in interfaces for users. The main goal of a visual hierarchy is to present content on the carrier; it can be a mobile screen, web page, poster, or book. Designers should prioritize and organize content in such a way that users can understand the importance of each element.
Visual hierarchy helps the user’s brain distinguish objects and content based on physical differences such as alignment, color, size, and contrast. It helps readers and users find the relevant information and easily navigate through the website or mobile app.
When we talk about digital products, the visual hierarchy has significant importance. It improves the readability and visual performance of the content. Moreover, designers should pay attention to scanning patterns. Many studies show that people scan a webpage before reading it because it helps them develop their interest.
When designers are familiar with the principles of visual hierarchy, they can create effective information architecture. For example, they can place the key components on most scanned spots so that readers can take the required action.
Things to consider about UX design and information architecture
Well, initially, it will look like a complicated thing to implement information architecture in the UX design process, but when you start learning and implementing it in design projects, you’ll understand its value. So, the following key points will help you understand important things about information architecture.
- If you want to form a skeleton of any digital product, you can do it with information architecture. For example, designers can build navigation systems, interactions, visual elements, and functionality elements according to IA principles.
- Having a powerful IA will ensure that the product is of high quality because there will be no navigation and usability issues.
- If you want to establish a foundation for an efficient user experience (UX), you must have good information architecture.
- As mentioned earlier, information architecture is like a blueprint of the layout. Therefore, designers should generate it by using a visual scheme. And wireframe is a perfect option for it.
- Before creating information architecture, ensure that you and your team define product goals.
- User research and cognitive psychology principles can help designers understand and predict the possible users’ reactions, and they can create an attractive and user-friendly product.
- Designers can improve the visual performance of content by establishing a clear visual hierarchy.
If you want your user to enjoy and understand your product, you must understand the importance of information architecture. Designers should create structures that are easy for users to navigate and can easily scan the webpage. So, after reading this post, one thing should have been cleared information architecture and UX design goes hand-in-hand regardless of whether it’s an open-world video game or delivering a blog post to a reader.
Keep things simple and easy so that users don’t get frustrated. Present information to users in the simplest way. But with the right planning and information architecture, you can present lots of content and information in a structured way. So, keep the user’s needs in mind during each stage of the design and development process.