Information Architecture (IA) helps designers and producers of websites ‘make choices about how to structure information so people can understand and use it’ (Garrett p.88, 2011). It concerns structuring content (information arrangement), design structure, organising principles, language and metadata, location, navigation and labeling. Downey & Banerjee (2010) have created a useful checklist that ‘helps remind system designers and customers to account for, and plan for, IA in their system.’ I also really liked MAYA’s definition of IA in that ‘by thinking about the architecture of how information is used, how it flows and how it fits within the users world (its context), you can capture the essence of how to build a system that is not only intuitive but futureproof (McManus, 2009).
So then how does this translate into a final website? One knows that effective website IA has made an impact on users when, ‘it connects people to the content they’re looking for’ (Farley, 2010). If your users find your website organised and can easily navigate to the information that interests them, then you have engaging IA. To add to this, Garrett (p.98, 2009) says, ‘a successful user experience is one in which the users expectations are anticipated and accounted for.’
City Council Websites used:
Melbourne City Council: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/
Hobart City Council: http://www.hobartcity.com.au/
Perth City Council: http://www.perth.wa.gov.au
Downey, L. & Banerjee, S. (2010). Building an information architecture checklist. Journal of Information Architecture, 2(2). Retrieved from: http://journalofia.org/volume2/issue2/03-downey/
Farley, J. (2010). The Web Design Process Part 2: Information Architecture. Retrieved from: http://www.sitepoint.com/the-web-design-process-part-2-information-architecture/
Garrett, J.J. (2011). Information Architecture in The Elements of User Experience: User Centred Design for the Web and Beyond, 2nd edition, pp.88-101.
McManus, M. (2009). What is information architecture? Retrieved from: http://www.maya.com/the-feed/what-is-information-architecture