Chroma Experience

2/2 Information architecture

What are the key processes for information architecture?

Information architecture is to a website, library or business what the concrete foundation is to a house. To create the best possible foundation, we need to create an IA document.

There are several steps to creating the document, as explained below. Companies should take the time to do this and consider it a worthwhile investment.

The process outlined below is tailored to creating IA for a website, but you can easily apply the process to non-digital products.

So, first things first:

1. define company goals

To determine the goals for the creation, you can ask yourself two questions: Why do you want to improve the IA of your website, and what do you want to achieve? Are you working with all key stakeholders to determine this? They should feel included and agree to the final version.

"If you can't clearly articulate the reason for the work and the desired outcome, stop immediately. Do not continue until this is clear."

  • Donna Spencer, Information Architect

Donna Spencer also explains that goals usually fall into three categories:

  • Make more money

  • Reduce costs

  • Helping people make better decisions

2. define user goals

Who are the people who will use the website? Follow UX practices: Conduct user interviews, create personas, develop scenarios, and answer the following questions:

  • What will users do on the website?

  • What are their goals?

Apply a storytelling approach so stakeholders can easily visualize and understand what you are explaining to them. Together, find best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios and consider how the latter can be avoided.

This is also a good time to think about any user constraints, such as what technology they use.

3. Analysis of the competition

Sometimes it is completely unnecessary to invent a concept from scratch. In fact, it can hurt you. Go all out and make sure you know your competition.

Think about your competition's information architecture:

  • **Where is the information displayed?

  • What information is the common denominator?

  • Is the website easy to navigate?

  • What makes it good and what makes it bad? **

4. Define the content

If a website already has content, go through it first and decide what to keep and what to cut. If it's a new website, start from scratch. You need to get a clear understanding of the content.

If your site already has content, you can do one of the following:

Full Inventory.
Write down everything that is on the website. This can take a lot of time and maybe even a whole team, but it is the most useful method. If you choose this option, you should record all pages, all downloadable content, and any media or interactive content as well.

Partial Inventory
A partial inventory is still better than nothing. Focus on the important parts and higher levels.

Content Audit
This approach gives us the least information, but is faster and easier. We focus on determining the usefulness, accuracy, and overall effectiveness of the content.

Designing the information architecture

Whatever approach you take to defining your content, you should capture link names, page names, URLs, the type of content, information about the timeliness of the page, and the person who created or owns it. Adding comments can also be useful.

If your site is still in the creation process and you're just starting to think about content, connect with content creators first - content is the heart of the site and should be taken seriously at the very beginning of the project. Build your website around content, not the other way around.

When building a solid foundation for your website, content creators are your best friends and you should treat them as such. Involve them in the process and help them understand what you're doing.

Guide them to create an overview of the content first, the details should come second.