Information Architecture: The Foundation of Design

Information Architecture, or IA, is the organization of information and content into a structured design. This field helps users understand the information they are presented and expedites the process of finding what they are looking for. The organization of information includes designs in both real life and online. Almost everything around us has some level of information architecture, whether it is the categorizations in grocery store aisles or the structured navigation of a website menu. The term itself was created and officially introduced to the world in the 1970s, and after decades of defi ning and refining what good IA is, the goal is still the same: to organize and structure information in an intuitive way.

[… A]rchitect as in the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work — the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear. I use the word information in its truest sense. Most of the word information contains the word inform, so I call things information only if they inform me, not if they are just collections of data, of stuff.
R. S. Wurman, 1996

Information Architecture is a term coined by Richard S. Wurman, who worked to convey and summarize the various aspects of IA. Following him, Xerox became the first company to support the notion of the modern interpretation of the term Information Architecture, adapting it into their new corporate mission. Through the 1970s into the 1980s, the concept of IA began to broaden, becoming a more notable section in design. By 1990s, the first group of modern information architects began to make their appearance into the professional world. In 1998, Information Architecture of the World Wide Web defined aspects of information architecture within technology, explaining ways to organize and structure content and information on websites. The necessity of IA in both physical and technological aspects became the reason for its rise in society.

Detailed Timeline of Information Architecture, Rodrigo Ronda Leon

Despite not knowing the exact definition of the meaning, everyone is aware of and likely thankful for the existence of information architecture. Besides the individual interpretation of abstract art or Dadaism, where nothing is supposed to make sense, people like when things make sense. Everything we do and experience around us is organized in a way so that it is easy for us to understand, control, and manipulate. As our needs change and our technology pushes its boundaries, we will develop new and improved methods of IA. We design structures that make absorbing information as easy as possible and we continue to find ways to make it even more organized. From shopping mall directories to website navigations, physical forms of IA surround us. As we continually work to understand how we think and organize information in our minds, information architecture will change as well, but its goal to organize chaos will be consistent.

Information architecture is the foundation of all designs. Successful IA is the key aspect of why we appreciate designs that make life easier for us.

Explaining Information Architecture, Dan Klyn, Vimeo