Tag Archives: IA

information architecture for designers

6 Tips How to Apply Information Architecture in UX Design

Being a good designer means constant learning various sciences and methodologies helping to improve professional skills. One of the essential studies recommended to designers is information architecture. In our previous articles, we’ve defined the essence of IA and described the efficient techniques assisting designers in the workflow. We discovered that information architecture is believed to be a foundation of efficient UX and UI design. Moreover, the appropriate IA may become a compelling tool for designers when all its principles are considered. Today’s post continues this theme unveiling useful tips for designers on IA implementation.

 

Keep product goals in mind

 

Definition of product goals is a core stage which influences every team working on the project, be it developers or designers. So, before you start building the information structure, you need to learn what your client expects from the website or mobile application. To achieve the product vision and see the whole picture, the product goals should be established. They should respond to the product strategy, be understandable to all the members of the creative team and achievable. Awareness of the goals gives a clear idea of what the tasks are and where to start. When the goals are set, designers can agree on the content elements and the purposes with the clients so that they could avoid possible misunderstandings resulting in additional work hours in the future.

 

copywriting tips

 

Conduct user research

 

IA experts consider the specifics of the target audience needs because IA puts user satisfaction as a priority. To learn more about the potential users, designers are recommended to conduct user research. It’s a process of collecting information about the consumers of the product via various techniques. When the data is gathered, the design team analyze it and work on the optimal solutions which will make the product user-friendly and attractive.

 

User research helps to dive deep into the details of core target audience to understand their needs and psychological peculiarities. Considering preferences of the users, designers are capable of creating a user-friendly product that will stand out of the crowd and draw potential customer’s attention.

 

design navigation UI UX tubik studio

 

Consider cognitive psychology principles

 

To comprehend the nature of the visual perception and the factors affecting users’ attention, designers learn the сognitive psychology principles. It is the science studying information processing that goes inside people’s minds. Cognitive psychology experts state that there are various ways of data perception and different factors influencing people’s attention.

 

Based on the cognitive psychology studies and principles, designers developed many techniques helping to create powerful content. In article Psychology in Design, we described some effective psychological principles often applied in design including Gestalt principles and recognition patterns. The former theory explores users’ visual perception of elements in relation to each other. In other words, it shows how people tend to unify the visual elements into groups according to their similarity, continuation, or closure. Speaking of recognition patterns, people visiting a website or using an application are expecting to see certain features associated with the definite kind of product. That’s why designers apply various recognition patterns to help users be oriented in the structure.

 

tubik-design-books

 

Plan the navigation system

 

Information structure and navigation are two essential components of any digital product. In one of our UX Glossary articles, we’ve defined navigation as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The navigation system, in terms of IA, involves the ways how users move through content. 

 

Navigation of a digital product is based on the information architecture, so it’s vital to make sure it reflects and supports IA, otherwise the product may be unsolid. Therefore, designers are recommended to plan the navigation system while creating information architecture of the product.

 

Tubik Studio UI sketches

 

Don’t forget about visual hierarchy

 

To organize and prioritize content in interfaces clearly for users, designers apply a well-known technique called visual hierarchy. Its main goal is to present the content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element. It activates the ability of the brain to distinguish objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc. This allows users to see where the needed information is so that they could navigate easily.

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

 

Visual hierarchy plays a significant role in visual performance and readability of the copy content in digital products. Giving tips on applying copy content in UI, we distinguished core aspects helping to build powerful visual hierarchy. One of the essential points to consider for designers is scanning patterns. Lots of studies have shown that before reading a web page people scan it to get a sense of interest. According to different studies, including the publications by Nielsen Norman Group as one of the pioneers of this field, UXPin team, and others, there are several popular scanning patterns for web pages, among which “F” and “Z” patterns. Detailed information about scanning patterns you can find here.

 

Knowing the principles of visual hierarchy, designers can create effective information architecture placing the key components of the content on the most scanned spots making users take expected actions.

 

wordpress theme design tubik

 

Things to consider

 

The science of information architecture may seem too complicated and demand much efforts but when you learn its basics and start applying them in design projects, you see how useful it is. Summing up the set of Tubik articles devoted to this theme, we’d like to single out a few main points.

 

— IA forms a skeleton of any design project for a digital product. Visual elements, functionality, interactions, and navigation are built according to the information architecture principles.

 

— Powerful IA is a guarantee of the high-quality product since it reduces possible problems of poor usability and navigation.

 

— Good information architecture is a foundation of efficient user experience.

 

— Information architecture is like a blueprint of the layout which needs to be generated by a visual scheme like a wireframe.

 

— Defining product goals is a core stage before IA creation.

 

— User research and cognitive psychology principles assist in predicting possible users’ reactions to the product and creating a user-friendly outcome.

 

— Clear visual hierarchy plays a significant role in the visual performance of the content.


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information architecture for designers

Information Architecture: Effective Techniques For Designers.

Content is a constituent that can make any digital product valuable. Informative copy and well-thought visual elements of UI design are able to create the foundation for the successful product. However, even good content may fail in case it is structured badly. One of our previous articles was devoted to the basic points of information architecture and today’s post continues the topic.

 

In a nutshell, information architecture (IA) is a science of structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. IA study aims at organizing content so that users would easily adjust to the functionality of the product and could find everything they need without big effort. Nowadays, when the user-centered approach in design is a top trend, many designers learn the principles of information architecture science which are believed to be a foundation of the powerful design. There are many experts working on IA development now, so loads of various techniques appear. Our article presents four efficient IA methodologies commonly used in design.

 

tubikstudio teamwork

 

Content inventory

 

Before you start constructing a layout of the product, you need to understand what elements your project will consist of. One of the first stages of building information architecture is called content inventory. The technique considers creating a list of the components for the future design project. The inventory list usually includes various elements such as title, author/provider, meta elements (keywords, description, tags), copy, images, audio, video, and document files.

 

A content inventory list assists designers at the different stages of the workflow. First of all, the list helps identify the essential content components in so that designers could plan the product structure. Knowing all the constituents, designers can place them properly. Furthermore, it’s an easy way to discuss the structure peculiarities of the project with your clients. It is much faster and easier to edit the list rather than modify the design project when it’s been started. Finally, the list of components can help designers deeply comprehend the content that results in creating appropriate connections between elements so that the design of the product would look integral.

 

tubik studio wireframing UI UX

 

Wireframing

 

Information architecture is something like a blueprint of the layout which needs to be generated by a visual scheme. The majority of designers constantly use the well-known technique called wireframing helping to create a simplified and schematic visual representation of a layout for digital products. Wireframes are similar to architectural blueprints: they are usually black and white illustrations, sometimes with bright marks or spots to outline specific areas or points, that give a clear vision of the project structure and connections between different parts.

 

Wireframing is a fast and cheap technique to plan the information architecture of the page or screen. Designers use wireframes to outline visual and typographic hierarchy of user interfaces, set the interactive zones and elements, plan transitions and interactions, organize the general layout markedly for the target audience. Since a wireframe is focused on the structure, not the visual and emotional perception of the details, designers try to keep it simple. They mostly limit it to monochromatic color schemes, with boxes and lines representing copy, pictures and all the interactive elements on the page.

 

tubik studio design process ux

 

Wireframing gives numerous advantageous opportunities not only for designers but for the whole development team and clients too. First of all, a wireframe is the first visual representation of a designer’s abstract idea. This step ensures that the developers and the clients get the full understanding of the project’s design. Furthermore, developers can clearly see the placement of the elements on the page. Some software for creating wireframes allows seeing all the sizes and spacing by clicking a single button that saves time for both design and development teams.

 

Organization structures and schemes

 

In our article “Information Architecture. Basics for Designers” we’ve defined four essential components of IA: organization systems, labeling systems, navigation systems, and search systems. The organization systems are the groups or the categories in which the information is divided. It helps users to predict where they can find certain information easily. To categorize the design components effectively, designers apply the technique of division into specific structures and schemes.

 

There are three main types of content structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

 

Hierarchical. In one of our previous articles, we’ve mentioned well-known technique of content organization called visual hierarchy. It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory and its main goal is to present content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element. It activates the ability of the brain to distinguish objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc.

 

Big City Guide tubik

Big City Guide

 

Sequential. This structure creates some kind of a path for the users. They go step-by-step through content to accomplish the task they needed. This type is often used for the retail websites or apps where people have to go from one task to another to make the purchase.

 

jewellery ecommerce app UI

Jewellery E-Commerce App

 

Matrix. This type is a bit more complicated for the users since they choose the way of navigation on their own. Users are given choices of content organization. For example, they can navigate through content which is ordered according to date, or some may prefer navigation along the topic.

 

health care app interactions tubik studio

HealthCare App

 

Content can be divided according to the organization schemes which are meant to classify the design components into certain groups. Here are some of the popular schemes:

 

Alphabetical. Content is organized in alphabetical order. This scheme works best when users know exactly what they’re looking for and know how to describe or name the object of search, so it can serve as a navigation tool for the users.

 

Audience. The type of content organization for separate groups of users. As an example, there are many educational resources which divide the information according to the skill level of the learners.

 

Chronological. This type organizes content by date and time. It’s often used on the news websites, event apps, and blogs.

 

Topic. Content is organized according to the specific subject. For instance, online book shops divide the products according to genres.

 

bookshop website animation

Bookshop Website

 

Content organization models

 

Designers have been working on the development of the information architecture field for a long time and so far they have established some efficient models of the content structure. Knowing them, designers can choose appropriate information structure for a product. Let’s take a look at the most common models.

 

Single page model

 

When the digital product requires a minimum of the content, the single page model is a perfect choice. Websites for a single product and with focused purpose often apply this type of data structure. As an example, we can consider design for the website promoting the brand new application. Its purpose is to make users upload the app, so generally, it provides a limited amount of copy with the focus on the button “Available on App Store”.

 

Upper App Animation

Upper App

 

Flat model

 

This model works best for the small websites or landing pages. In the flat structure, all the pages are equal and they are put at the same level of navigation, so they are interchangeably accessible for the users. This type of information structure is good for the websites which have a limited amount of the content and it’s not going to grow anytime soon. It may be a good idea to apply the flat model to the design of a startup company.

 

landing page design tubik studio

 

Index model

 

The index structure is one of the most commonly used. All the pages are equally similar to the flat model but the navigation system differs. Index model allows users to access pages via the page list which is available on every page of the product. This way, index model may contain more content and remain usable and simple for users since they can skip useless pages.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

Vinny’s Bakery Website

 

Strict hierarchy model

 

The model received its name, not by chance. It’s called “strict” because it gives users only one way to access the subpages: from the main page. This structure is a good choice for the digital products that have a specific purpose. For example, e-commerce websites use the structure so that the users wouldn’t skip the important information about their new offers. Also, educational platforms may apply the model in order to make the educational process gradual.

 

Co-existing hierarchy model

 

This kind of information structure is probably the most difficult to apply. It combines the ideas of a few models. Similar to index model, it provides users with various ways to access the content still it aims at guiding people through the certain path so that they would take expected actions. That’s why to create such a structure, designers need to have a bit of experience in this area. However, it may be worth trying.

web design UI concept tubik studio

 

The Big Landscape

 

Daisy model

 

This type of content structure is common for educational websites and apps as well as the others which require users complete certain tasks. The daisy structure is built that way so users return to a homepage (sometimes other specific points) after they accomplish the tasks. For instance, many to-do apps automatically return the users to the main screen when they point the task as complete.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Information architecture is vital for the powerful design but it needs to be done right. The various IA techniques we’ve discussed above can be combined and applied depending on the product and the clients’ requirements. Moreover, they are constantly improved since the design field never stays still, so many new methodologies may appear soon. Our next article will continue the topic of IA so stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer

 

The ultimate guide to information architecture

 

How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

 

Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond

 

Information Architecture Basics


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information architecture for designers tubik

Information Architecture. Basics for Designers.

The World Wide Web contains a tremendous amount of information which is hard to imagine unstructured because a human brain wouldn’t be able to perceive any single thing. People got used to seeing content and functionality of the digital products as many of them are now: structured and easy to use. However, it doesn’t occur unintentionally. Designers and developers take a responsibility of constructing content and navigation system in the appropriate way for users perception. The science that assists experts in the content structuring is called information architecture. Today’s article is devoted to the essence of information architecture and presents the basic points every designer should know.

 

What’s information architecture?

 

Information architecture (IA) is a science of organizing and structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. An American architect and graphic designer, Richard Saul Wurman, is considered to be a founder of the IA field. Today, there are many specialists working on IA development who have established the Information Architecture Institute. According to the IAI experts, information architecture is the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.

 

Information architecture aims at organizing content so that users would easily adjust to the functionality of the product and could find everything they need without big effort. The content structure depends on various factors. First of all, IA experts consider the specifics of the target audience needs because IA puts user satisfaction as a priority. Also, the structure depends on the type of the product and the offers companies have. For example, if we compare a retail website and a blog, we’ll see two absolutely different structures both efficient for accomplishing certain objectives. Information architecture has become the fundamental study in many spheres including design and software development.

 

UX design process tubik

 

The role of information architecture in design

 

Nowadays, when the user-centered approach in design is a top trend, many designers learn the principles of information architecture science which they believe is a foundation of efficient design. IA forms a skeleton of any design project. Visual elements, functionality, interaction, and navigation are built according to the information architecture principles. The thing is that even compelling content elements and powerful UI design can fail without appropriate IA. Unorganized content makes navigation difficult and inexplicit, so the users can easily get lost and feel annoyed. If the users face first bad interaction, they may not give the second chance to your product.

 

Many companies don’t see the importance of information architecture because they think it’s impractical. It’s hard to argue that IA takes some time to create it and requires specific skills to do it efficiently. However, powerful IA is a guarantee of the high-quality product since it reduces the possibility of the usability and navigation problems. This way, well-thought information architecture can save both time and money of the company which otherwise they would have spent on fixing and improvement.

 

IA and UX design

 

After reading everything written above, many people may have the question: “Isn’t IA the same as UX design?”. Technically, these terms relate to each other but they are far not the same. IA is a blueprint of the design structure which can be generated into wireframes and sitemaps of the project. UX designers use them as the basic materials so that they could plan navigation system.

 

UX design means much more than content structuring. In the first place, UX designers aim at making pleasant interaction model, so that users feel comfortable using the product. They encompass various aspects influencing users’ behavior and actions such as emotion and psychology when the IA experts stay focused on the user’s goals.

 

Let’s get this straight: good information architecture is a foundation of efficient user experience, so the IA skill is essential for the designers. Effective IA makes the product easy to use but only united with design thinking the product has the powerful user experience.

 

tubik studio design process ux

 

IA system components

 

If you want to build strong information architecture for the product, you need to understand what it consists of. Pioneers of the IA field, Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville in their book “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” have distinguished four main components: organization systems, labeling systems, navigation systems and searching systems.

 

Organization systems

 

These are the groups or the categories in which the information is divided. Such system helps users to predict where they can find certain information easily. There are three main organizational structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

 

Hierarchical. In one of our previous articles, we’ve mentioned a well-known technique of content organization which is called visual hierarchy. It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory and its main goal is to present content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element. It activates the ability of the brain to distinguish objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc.

 

web ui design city guide

Big City Guide

 

Sequential. This structure creates some kind of a path for the users. They go step-by-step through content to accomplish the task they needed. This type is often used for the retail websites or apps, where people have to go from one task to another to make the purchase.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

Vinny’s Bakery Website

 

Matrix. This type is a bit more complicated for the users since they choose the way of navigation on their own. Users are given choices of content organization. For example, they can navigate through content which is ordered according to date, or some may prefer navigation along the topic.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

MoneyWise App

 

In addition, content can be grouped according to the organization schemes. They are meant to categorize content the product. Here are some of the popular schemes:

 

Alphabetical schemes. Content is organized in alphabetical order. Also, they can serve as a navigation tool for the users.

 

Chronological schemes. This type organizes content by date.

 

Topic schemes. Content is organized according to the specific subject.

 

Audience schemes. The type of content organization for separate groups of users.

 

book swap app tubik studio

Book Swap App

 

Labeling systems

 

This system involves the ways of data representation. Design of the product requires simplicity, so a great amount of information can confuse users. That’s why designers create the labels which represent loads of data in few words. For example, when the designers give contact information of the company on the website, it usually includes the phone number, email, and social media contacts. However, designers can’t present all of this information on one page. The button “Contact” in the header of the page is a label that triggers the associations in the users’ heads without placing the whole data on the page. So, the labeling system aims at uniting the data effectively.

 

gym landing page concept by Tubik

 

Gym Landing Page

 

Navigation systems

 

In one of our UX Glossary articles, we’ve defined navigation as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The navigation system, in terms of IA, involves the ways how users move through content. It’s a complex system which employs many techniques and approaches, the reason why it’s wrong to describe it in a short paragraph. So, we’ll go back to the topic a bit later on our new blog’s article.

 

Searching systems

 

This system is used in information architecture to help users search for the data within the digital product like a website or an app. The searching system is effective only for the products with loads of information when the users risk getting lost there. In this case, the designers should consider a search engine, filters, and many other tools helping users find content and plan how the data will look after the search.

 

tubikstudio-ui-ux-design

 

To sum up, we can claim that information architecture is a core part of the powerful user experience design. Efficient IA helps users quickly and easily navigate through content and find everything they need without striking a blow. That’s why designers are recommended to learn the basics of the IA science.

 

The topic of information architecture is wide and there are more interesting and useful aspects. Our next article on this theme will be devoted to the various techniques and methodologies which designers employ to create efficient IA. Stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

IA for the Web and Beyond

How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

Information Architecture Basics

The Difference Between Information Architecture and UX Design


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance