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Information architecture in digital products

30 November

As user experience designers we must focus not only on the “pretty”, but also on the structure and how the information is displayed in our application.

What is the point of continuing to invest in developing the best functionality if it is not understood, or worse, not found?

If a user does not find something. That user will think that this option does not exist.

This is where information architecture (IA) becomes fundamental.

It is considered the discipline with the greatest impact on the usability of an interface. 75% of usability problems are caused by poor management of the information architecture.

Jakob Nielsen was one of the pioneers in describing the main problems. I gather information from more than 2000 usability studies.

From these investigations he detected the 10 main categories in which he classified the problems into:

  1. Comparables analysis
  2. Information Architecture
  3. Construction of People
  4. Context study
  5. Qualitative interviews
  6. Card Sorting
  7. Iterative prototyping
  8. Heuristic evaluation
  9. A/B Testing
  10. Usability testing

These 10 points are part of the User Research methods Did you know them all? We will be writing articles about each of them in our blog.

In this article we will focus on information architecture.

 

What is information architecture?

We can understand it as the way of obtaining the information (raw material of work); it is about how this information is shaped, trying to make it easy to find. It includes the structuring, organization, navigation and labeling of this information.

It is usually measured by considering these three main attributes.

  1. Findability

How easy is the content to find among the interface?

  1. Management

How can the user manage the information displayed on the interface?

  1. Creativity

What creative ways can we find to distribute the information in our particular interface? How do I distinguish my site/app information from others?

 

Tools to study information architecture

There are two tools that allow us to do this. One is the Tree test and the other is Card Sorting.

The Tree Test is a technique that allows us to study the content tree of a website or application to improve its usability. The
Card Sorting
is a technique that, by means of card sorting, allows us to organize, hierarchize and evaluate the contents of a website taking into account the user’s thinking and behavior.

With the Tree Test we can evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction of a user.

With Card Sorting we can let the user categorize the contents. This allows the content tree to be organized by the user himself, helping to make it more findable.

These tools can be used together or separately depending on what we need to investigate.

 

Conclusion

What can we learn from IA experts? It is simply that the ideal order of the information is not always the one that is most convenient for us.

The one that prevails is that order that responds to the mental model of the users, that is to say, to how the users expect to find the information ordered.

Without that understanding, we will continue to make extraordinary functionalities, but they will not be understood.

 

Do you agree?

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