Information Architecture

Information Architecture 2018-06-14T09:46:30+00:00

Between the birth of the world and 2003 a total of five exabytes of content were created. But by 2013 five exabytes of content were being created each day, mostly online where there’s no set organizational scheme such as the Dewey Decimal System. Also in 2013, content searches cost companies over $14,000 and nearly 500 hour per worker. (See source.)

Information Architecture (IA) creates an infrastructure to manage that proliferation of information so that people can find what they’re looking for on your website or intranet. Easily. And so your navigation scales with your site. Seamlessly. And so your search returns useful results. Every time.

Good IA is invisible. If your site and content are working well users won’t notice, they’ll simply enjoy the experience of navigating through your website or finding content. Just as good wayfinding helps people navigate the physical world, good information wayfinding helps users navigate the online world. It’s only when they gets lost – in the real world or online – that a user realizes something’s amiss.

At Key Pointe our experience and process allows us to translate between internal departments: marketing and business teams learn how to communicate with IT, and IT understands what marketing and business need.  In addition, we don’t design by committee, instead we focus on evidence-based decision-making and user-centered solutions.

Our Process

While every project has different goals and there’s no cookie cutter process, when we work on an IA project with clients the process typically includes:

  • A discovery phase when we talk with stakeholders, the project team, and users.  This phase also includes a content audit, analytics review, taxonomy review, and baseline usability testing. This phase sets the stage for making evidence-based decisions and recommendations.
  • A review stage when we summarize and share our findings with the project team and document the strategy and next steps to make a great IA a reality
  • A design stage where we re-architect the website based on user and business needs. This phase includes a site map, content types, taxonomy development, wireframes and usability testing such as card sorting or task testing.
  • An optional migration stage  where we take your current taxonomy and help map it to a new site map or a new taxonomy

Our series of blog posts on the importance of IA gives you insight into the how and why of IA. The following case studies add perspective into how the IA process is tailored for individual clients.

Recent Posts in Information Architecture

Challenges on a Large Information Architecture Project (and a bit of levity for your day)

While attempting to write a case study, a colleague of mine asked me for some examples of issues I had on a recent intranet redesign project. This was a good project for examples, as it really was a fun and challenging project to work on. I thought I'd share the examples and hopefully (as a practitioner) you'll find humorous, though the humour points to big problems!

Why Is Information Architecture Helpful?

Once you understand what information architecture (IA) is, you may wonder why exactly it is that you need it, in order to have a successful site. Maybe your site has some usability problems or suffers from common taxonomy mistakes, but isn’t that something that anyone can just go in and adjust with a few tweaks of the design? Technically, yes. But you’re most likely only resolving a surface level issue with a band-aid fix, as opposed to addressing the real website problems that you’re suffering from.

What Is Information Architecture?

Is your customer service team spending most of their time answering questions that are directly answered on your website? Is your bounce rate far higher than it should it be? Is the most used function of your website the search bar? All of these common website usability problems are symptoms and signs of poor information architecture. Information architecture (IA) aims to connect users with the content that they are looking for, in a seamless and intuitive manner.

Website Search Sucks: A Common Website Problem

When I talk with customers about website problems, I frequently hear the refrain: "Our website search is terrible. People tell us it sucks. We need to fix it." Or "I can't find anything on the website and the search doesn't give me what I am expecting." There are a few areas where we can look to fix search problems. Normally, I start with user interviews and testing, then move on to reviewing site analytics, metadata, and taxonomy.

Website Navigation by Audience: 3 Reasons Not to Use It

On the surface, audience based navigation seems to make sense. In user-centred design, we design for the user. If we group information based on the different users we've identified, then the user will know where to look on the website. In my early days, I did once try my hand at audience based navigation and quickly learned a few things (and felt an immense amount of frustration).

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Theresa worked with me on a project to improve user experience for three key internal websites. She did a thorough job assessing the needs of the clients and providing an IA that would help them streamline their operations. She was always looking at problems from different angles to provide innovative solutions. All of her hard work paid off because the project was a huge success.
Chelsea Oehr, BC Hydro
Theresa is a very thoughtful and strategic information architect. She’s great at listening to clients, focusing the problems to be solved and finding evidence based solutions. A real delight to collaborate with.
Emira Mears
I worked with Theresa on a site redesign for Audi. I found her to be a rock star, tackling all details with dedication and a smile. Besides being a joy to work with, Theresa is a take-charge person who is able to present creative ideas and communicate the benefits. She was a key player in creating the user experience for our project that will result in increased revenue and brand awareness for our client.
Ben Brodsky, L4 Digital