No one likes to have to hunt for a critical bit of information when needed. How can you make your communications as accessible and user-focused as possible?
Information architecture describes the structure of any communication—from a single document to a family of materials to a robust website; it’s the way information is grouped and navigation methods provide a roadmap through it. Most people notice information architecture only when it’s poor and fails to help them find the content they require. Good structure doesn’t call attention to itself; it simply enables people to find content quickly, easily and intuitively.
Like all aspects of good communications strategy, creating an effective information architecture starts with understanding your user needs, as well as your organization's business objectives, content requirements and constraints. The defining feature of information architecture is then applying that understanding in a systematic way to create clear, easy-to-follow paths for users and readers to find what’s most relevant to them.
How do we get there? By finding the groupings and connections of all desired or necessary content; building on those logical relationships as the basis for information hierarchy; testing and revising a prototype version in increasingly refined iterations until the results demonstrate that users can successfully interact with your documents or digital experiences.
At the end of the process, you have a rational, proven schema that ensures maximum usability.