Information Architecture

Description: How can something be so important to the overall structure of a website - and yet be one of those things that not everyone has heard of? Read on to find out why information architecture has the power to determine how successful your website can be.

Information architecture - it sounds rather complicated but in fact it doesn't need to be. It's simply a way of working out what information is going to be included in the design of your website, and how that information will be arranged.

In a way, a site map is a very rudimentary form of information architecture, because it shows exactly how the website is laid out and how many pages and subjects appear under each section heading.

But information architecture goes a step further than that. It also takes into account your core audience, what they are like and how you can construct your site with them in mind. The whole process can start with ideas scribbled on a piece of paper, and develop into the construction of specific web applications to make your ideas and goals into a reality.

As far as web development is concerned, information architecture doesn't just cover the structure of a proposed website. Once that structure has been decided on, it's necessary to think about how certain development techniques and applications can turn that structure into a reality. To put it another way, you can think about how you could use certain applications, such as HTML, XML and maybe cascading style sheets (CSS), to make the construction of that site as easy and as efficient as possible, while still allowing for alterations and adjustments in the future, as the site finds its legs and grows as more people find it.

Information architecture is all about organization. This happens on many different levels, from how you will organize the separate pages of your website to ensure visitors can find their way around easily, to how you will choose and use different applications that will work well in harmony with each other to ensure the best possible platform for your website to work on.

It's important to remember that although the information architecture of your website will be decided before the website is designed and constructed, it can change as new applications and ideas are implemented. That's why the best websites continue to grow and develop as time goes on. Viewing information architecture as too rigid a structure can lead to being left behind while other similar websites take over.

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