If your intention to build a website is to increase traffic, generate leads, and convert your prospects into happy customers then using information architecture (IA) to build your site should be your priority. Information architecture is about organizing and structuring of information on your website to help visitors to accomplish their information needs and complete the intended tasks effortlessly. This, in turn, helps you to achieve your business goals.
An effective and a well thought out IA on a website ensures that the site meets the users’ objectives as well as the business goals. The principles of IA can be implemented while constructing new sites as well as for redesign of websites as well. Information architecture addresses issues like navigation, usability, metadata, search facilities and usage analysis. These elements are taken into consideration to organize, structure, and label information and content sustainably and effectively. For attaining this objective a broad understanding of how these elements fit and work together to create the big picture is essential.
Why a well-planned IA matters?
The cardinal purpose of a well thought out IA is to help the visitors understand where they are, what’s around, what they have found and what they can expect. The objective of information architecture is to strike a balance between what a user wants to achieve and needs to do. The site navigation becomes so seamless that it holds the hands of the users to direct and assist them in what they want to do instead of brushing them away. This is inevitably an art that IA helps to achieve. However, you also need to have a deep understanding of the industry standards which helps in creation, storage, accessibility, and presentation of information. Nevertheless, a well thought out IA helps in:
• Organization Structure: How you structure and organize information?
• Navigation System: How you want users to move or browse through information?
• Labelling System: How information is represented on your website?
• Search System: How the users and visitors look and search for information?
The psychological basis of IA
Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, and how the mind works and most of the principles of information architecture is based on cognitive psychology. Although there are many tenets and theories of psychology, the three basics of it that the principles of IA follow, are the mental models, cognitive load, and decision-making procedures.
Mental models refer to the various assumptions that people have while interacting with a website. A website with a good design and information architecture presents information in a way that matches the users’ expectations and the mental models. This is done by a card sorting activity with a set of sample target users of the site.
Cognitive load refers to the amount of information a human brain can process at any given point of time. A rightly designed site with the application of the IA principles refrains from overloading the user with too much of information. A balance between information presentation and consumption by the user is brought about through an appropriate content strategy and integration of the right wireframe.
Decision making is another important cognitive process that helps us to make decisions or choose an option. The users’ journey is planned in such a way helping users to take decisions congenial for the business. This is achieved by presenting certain key information during the users’ journey which is arrived at by analyzing the usability test results, user interviews, sampling results, and other stakeholders’ interviews.
How IA helps your business?
Although IA is a systematic process to build the architecture of a website and has a set procedure unlike the intuitive way of building a site, the benefits are many. Providing a great user experience is one among other benefits which bring repeat visits of users. It enhances the findability of a site and helps in SEO initiatives. It saves cost as there are no further needs for the redesign of the site providing a clear path for the visitors enhancing the user experience and preventing any usability concerns. Nevertheless, whatever benefits IA has, it has a direct bearing on increasing leads and conversions.
- Information architecture is about organizing and structuring of information on your website to help visitors to accomplish their information needs and complete the intended tasks effortlessly.
- An effective and a well thought out IA on a website ensures that the site meets the users’ objectives as well as the business goals.
- Although IA is a systematic process to build the architecture of a website and has a set procedure unlike the intuitive way of building a site, the benefits are many.
- Apart from the other benefits IA has, it has a direct bearing on increasing leads and conversions.