Information Architecture and User Experience Design
Making your Visitor's experience the best possible
In addition to good design and pleasing aesthetics, every website design project should make use of sound principles of information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX) design. What are those you ask?
Information architecture is the art and science of organizing websites and web applications to provide enhanced usability and findability. If visitors are unable to quickly locate information on your site, or have trouble working its interface, they will become disinterested or simply leave to visit a competitor's site. Good information architecture yields:
- Websites and applications that are easier to use
- Online information that is easier to find
- Applications that better meet your business requirements
- Greater customer satisfaction
- More returning visitors
- Better sales conversions
Sites with better organization, information architecture and attention to their users' needs, consistently perform better and provide a higher return on investment.
Wireframes are a common information architecture deliverable. Below are a few pages of a basic wireframe, created in Visio. The document highlights the layout, documentation styles and version control methods I use when working on wireframes as part of an information architecture project.
Download this sample Visio wireframe documentation (PDF, 101K)
Other Common Information Architecture Deliverables
- User flows & process flows
- Hierarchical site maps
User Experience Design
User experience design is a closely related field that covers all aspects of a user's interaction with a website, interface, or web application. As with information architecture, user experience design efforts seek to positively impact the overall user experience of your site or application by clarifying, organizing and planning for your users.
The process of user experience design typically includes the following:
- Site flows and navigation maps (sitemaps)
- Personae analysis
- Use case scenario planning and testing
- Wireframe development
- Storyboard development
- Prototype development
- Specifications which describe the design or application
Do you need an information architect?
When should you have an information architect involved in your project? That's simple—as early as possible! Information architects are a key part of any project team. They are invaluable anytime you:
- Design a website or web application interface
- Want to improve your site's conversion
- Want to streamline a site's usability
- Find that your site's growth has outpaced your ability to resimplify it
Sound information architecture is invaluable for every informational, transactional or community-driven website.
Information Architecture and User Experience Services
- Sitemap planning
- Application prototyping
- Personae and use case analysis
- Interactive design