The Future of Information Architecture

What is Information Architecture?

Information Architecture (IA) is the structural design of content which can include text, photos and videos. Effective Information Architecture is organized, well labeled and provides a clear way of searching and navigating a website or app.

In order to achieve this, there are some useful tools that help visualize Information Architecture. One of these tools is a sitemap which illustrates the relationship between content in a product, showing the flow between pages. This helps all members of a team including designers and developers to stay on the same page.

Source: https://www.gliffy.com/examples/site-map

Another tool used is a wireframe, which can come in different fidelity levels from a sketch to a high fidelity design file. Wireframes are great for showing navigation and visual hierarchy without worrying too much about the actual design elements.

Source: https://dcrazed.com/website-wireframe-examples/
Source: https://dcrazed.com/website-wireframe-examples/

Up until now it has been done manually by humans like you and me. Just think of a library or museum, which has been thoughtfully laid out to be organized and logical. The same goes for websites and mobile apps with hard working individuals and teams dedicated to making great Information Architecture.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence includes computers and systems that imitate human behavior and simulate tasks that would normally require human intelligence. This technology is prevalent in our everyday life including Siri and Cortana in our cell phones and computers, as well as in video games and cyber security.

Artificial Intelligence is slowly making its way into the design field, but can it really replace information architects and designers? Before you run out the door and panic that robots are taking over the world, let’s take a look at what is currently available in the realm of web artificial intelligence.

Source: www.thegrid.io

The Grid touts that you just add content and the website designs itself. It analyzes the subjects in the image to avoid placing text over someone’s face, where text content should be placed, where call to action buttons are necessary, as well as the navigation and SEO of the site. To make this service a little more human, the artificial intelligence robot is called Molly and given a personality. In fact, Molly even learns what you like and don’t like in terms of colors and layout with the ability to make unlimited redesigns until you’re happy with the result.

“She’s young, she’s learning, but she’s already designed hundreds of thousands of web pages, including this one. 24/7 she’s experimenting, figuring out what works & what doesn’t.
She’s quirky, but will never ghost you, never charge more, never miss a deadline, never cower to your demands for a bigger logo.
Looking back 3 months from now she will have searched through more design decisions than stars in our galaxy. Couple years from now and… You’ll just have to find out.” Source: www.thegrid.io

The Human Factor

There are so many more variables that need to be taken into account to produce effective Information Architecture (accessibility, usability, credibility, learnability, etc.) which require human interaction and testing. Many websites are also much more complex in the type of content offered as well as the interaction with that content, requiring human expertise.

Artificial intelligence may very well be the future of rapid ideation and brainstorming allowing many prototypes to be generated in a relatively short amount of time, which can then be further synthesized by a design team to create the final product. The unique nature of humans and our creativity is absolutely essential in creating an effective product.

Conclusion

The technology available is truly remarkable and has proven to take out a lot of the guess work for people who need a quick personal website. However I don’t see this technology putting all designers and information architects out of work anytime soon. I think the future will always include humans in the entire design process.

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