How Information Architecture (IA) helps you to get there
Navigating through the jungle of information
Our life is about goals and how to reach them. Whether it is how to travel from Manhattan to Brooklyn, land your dream job or purchasing a book. All these actions also require some kind of aid to reach the goal. In the age of digitalisation you will probably use a navigation app for finding routes, LinkedIn or some other job related app for CV and browsing jobs or using online stores to buy stuff.
These apps and services are made to facilitate your needs. You don’t probably even remember how you could manage your everyday life without the help of route guide or social media apps. Without you knowing, an information architect (IA) has made it possible for you to navigate your way easily within the app.
Information architecture is arguably not a science but, very much like say industrial design, an applied art. — Resmini & Rosati (The brief history of Information Architecture)
So how IA makes my life easier?
Let me break this down for you. Information architects have done all the thinking and going though all possible scenarios for you, so that you don’t have to think about it. They have created recognisable definitions, so that you don’t have to learn new expressions to familiar things. Like Richard Saul Wurman said “You only understand information relative to what you already understand”. They have classified and arranged the information and features so that they are easy to find and connect. And to make things run smoothly, they have thought about user flows and choreographies about how everything works. What happens if the user taps there? Does the user know where they are when new window opens? What if there is an error? And of course, information architect will make sure that there is as few errors as possible, to make things easy, convenient and smooth for you. At best, you actually feel happy after using an awesomely designed app or website.
The origin of IA
Information architecture can be approached both from the design and science perspectives — like architecture. Richard Saul Wurman contributed his ideas about IA in 1970’s when he spoke about “The Architecture of Information” at the annual of American Institute of Architects. He presented his ideas from a designer for designers. According to Wurman information architect’s primary task is creating order in dataspace by making the information simpler, more comprehensible and direct.
In 1990’s Rosenfled and Morville were teaching the first Internet courses. They sew the potential of Internet and how library systems could be useful for understanding how information works in the net. They used the architecture metaphor to emphasise the structure and organisation in website design. This mindset is what distinguished the work of Rosenfeld and Morville form Wurman’s.
Rosenfeld and Morville have been major influencers in IA since 1990’s and created the handbook of IA “Informaition Architecture of the World Wide Web” in 1996. Since then IA has been growing strongly, especially in this world of digital disruption.
To sum up
Information architecture is a crucial part of user experience design. When information is properly arranged you can navigate your way effortlessly to perform desired tasks. With he help of IA you don’t need to think, but you can sit back, relax and tap away.
A Brief History of Information Architecture:
Information Architecture Institute:
About Information Architecture:
Designlab’s UX Academy lessons