What Information Architecture Is and How It Can Help You
If you are wondering about the value of website information, consider this definition of the concept: “A website generally consists of a series of static web pages that display a product or service offered by an online business. A website usually presents multiple versions of the same site, usually in succession. A website may also contain links to additional content and resources.”
Wikipedia defines information architecture as “the process of designing and implementing an online information system that is accessible, intuitive, and functional.” In other words, information architecture refers to the process of using globally consistent structures and interfaces to provide site content, navigation, and user interface (the ability to interact with the site) in a manner consistent with the websites goal. A prime example of an information architecture system is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a global free encyclopedia that is designed and operated by an international team of editors. Each article is developed using a corresponding editing template that is used throughout the site to create a unique experience for the user.
Website information architecture allows users to easily browse and find the information they need when searching for a site. This is especially critical for a new site because there is rarely just one method for navigating to all of the pages on a new site. For instance, many people use their browsers to visit social networking sites, search engines, check the weather, book a hotel, shop online, take photos, download content, etc. In each of these cases, the user will likely have several different methods of navigating to the pages they need. The site needs to provide a uniform experience across all of these disparate methods of getting to the information they need.
Wikipedia provides a great example of information architecture. The home page of the site contains only a single category page, a main navigation bar, and a few sidebars on the right side of the page. When a user clicks on any link in the main navigation or on a thumbnail image of a certain topic, the browser will redirect the user to the appropriate page. Although this may seem like a very simple arrangement, it is actually highly effective. Not only is it more intuitive for the user to learn where to go next, but it also makes the information architecture very simple and clean.
In the context of a social networking site, the same basic principle can be applied. A user will want to know exactly where to click to proceed to the next step in a sequence of inputted inputs. On the example of Twitter, a user would want to know exactly which tweets are relevant for him or her, how to reply to posts, etc. The navigation is not complex; it just needs to be clear enough so that the user knows exactly where to go next. It is extremely effective at helping people find the information they need.
Wikipedia has provided a useful illustration of how the information architecture is used. Basically, the Wikipedia page is built in a way to provide a set of easy-to-follow links, while the other pages of the website are developed using specialized software in order to provide the user with as much information as possible from whatever it is that the person needs to know. The page ranking algorithms used by Google are an excellent example of information architecture at work. The reason why Google is such an effective search engine is because it has a great way of using data from all over the internet in order to provide its users with the most relevant results from what they are looking for.