Information Architecture and Design

Back when I was a student in College one of my biggest inspirations was architecture. I was a frustrated architect, unfortunately some obstacles prevented me from enrolling into architecture when I wanted to, and I opted for Design Studies instead. (#itsallgoodthough!) Architecture was all around me, and it influenced my design and aesthetics throughout my schooling.

Funny enough architecture will always be a part of my life, including now with UX Design. According to the Information Architecture Institute, Information Architecture (IA) is in simple terms: the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable. Sounds about logical no?

However it’s more than the content, it's understanding how it all plays its part to cater to the audience at the right time and in the right place. The world around us IS content: art, posters, food packaging, brochures, TV commercials, everything! It’s because of this reason that design plays a big interlocking role with IA. UX designers practice IA everyday; the two are closely connected. Put simply, IA is an important skill within UX and other disciplines, such as content strategy, technical writing, and interaction design.

A great example of Design and IA at work, is Barcelona’s Subway map.

As a backpacker lost in a new city, the map was my LIFE! I would wander to new places and see new things, but I knew that I would find my way back to my hostel thanks to this map. The content was easily accessible in many parts of the city, and it was all super easy to read. The design of the map and the content that was shown within it, allowed me to feel at ease to explore.

There were many details as a designer that I saw that made this map good quality:

  1. Clean and Modern Font for legibility
  2. Great color use for differentiating Subway lines and paths without confusion
  3. Great “Source of Truth” including everything from Trip fares and times of transportation operation, to region names and transportation types.

These qualities amongst other details within the map were the elements that allowed me to make my backpacking trip enjoyable. As an individual who relied on the effectiveness of the information for the subway system, I can say the value for IA in Design is paramount in delivering good quality products and content.

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