Information architecture in applications

In today's world, the amount of information we can find is enormous and sometimes overwhelming. Due to technological development, we have more and more ways to interact with information, all devices with Internet access give us such an opportunity. So what is the role of information architecture in this environment?

Information Architecture (AI) is the field of organizing and structuring the content of websites, web and mobile applications and software. It aims to organize the content so that users can easily find their way around the product's functionalities and find everything they need without much effort. The structure of the content depends on various factors. First of all, AI designers take into account the specific needs of the target audience, as their priority is user satisfaction. The structure also depends on the type of product and companies' offers. For example, if we compare a company management system and a blog, we will see two completely different structures, both of which meet all their assumptions and expectations. Information architecture has become the core of many fields, including software design and development. In order to create a good system architecture, you need to take into account several important elements it consists of.

Organizational systems

The first is the organization system, that is, the classification of information in the system, creating the structure and patterns present in it. This means grouping the elements of the same category according to one of the schemes, e.g. alphabetical or thematic, and presenting the structure of the system, defining the hierarchy. Such a system helps users predict where they can easily find certain information.

Labeling systems

Another issue belonging to AI is labeling, it includes ways of representing data, that is, giving appropriate names to elements. No matter how well and logically the system structure is designed for users, it can become useless if incomprehensible labels are used in it. The design of the product requires simplicity because a large amount of information can confuse the user. For example, to provide contact information about where the company is located, phone number, e-mail address, social media, a single "Contact" label is used, appropriate for all of the listed elements, and is commonly known. Labels should be selected for a specific recipient. If the system will be operated by people belonging to only one company and everyone knows the appropriate terminology in this field, then of course such words can be used as labels. On the other hand, if the system or website will be used on a larger scale, where the recipient is not strictly defined, then the generally understood nomenclature should be used.

Navigation systems

Another important element is the navigation system. Getting lost in an extensive system or website can be frustrating. System navigation is a set of actions and techniques that guide users through an application or website, enabling them to achieve their goals and interact effectively with the product. The map of the user's movement through the product is very important. The structure of the system suggests the use of specific navigation. We distinguish between built-in and auxiliary navigation, the built-in one includes global, local and contextual navigation, which are integrated with websites. The auxiliary navigation, on the other hand, includes site map in the footer, indexes and guides. Navigation should also be tailored to specific audiences, taking into account their behavior, habits and habits. This design approach gives the user a sense of knowing where in the website is and what steps he must take when he wants to move to another section.

Search system

The last of the fundamental issues of information architecture is search systems. This is a large section, difficult to describe in a few sentences. The system is used to help users find data in a digital product and only works for products with a lot of information when there is a risk of the user getting lost. Searching in systems depends on the method used, which depends on the prepared database. The search system allows you to enter queries and automatically delivers the result. Quick and effective search is possible thanks to the correct indexes given in the system. The results of a good search should be displayed so that the user can decide for himself which of the matching results suits him, for which a short description of each result will be useful. The tools of this system are search engines, filters, sorting and other elements that help users find data.

Three aspects of information architecture

Understanding the interdependence of context, users, and content is helpful in creating and visualizing an information architecture. Specialists refer to this as the information ecology.

• Context: business, financial goals, policy, culture, technology, resources and constraints

• Users: audience, tasks, needs, behaviors related to finding information, experiences

• Content: documents, data, content, volumes, existing management structure and ownership

Good design is based on these three areas, although all of them are quite mobile. Users may have different attitudes and tasks, the content may differ in quality and contexts, mission or strategy. These areas vary depending on the information environment. The three dependency model in AI has been used for over 20 years and works well, in designing websites, IT systems and applications.

In conclusion, Information Architecture is a key part of efficient design. A well-structured AI helps the user navigate the system so that he finds everything he needs and does not encounter problems along the way, with all information clear to him. The key to good information architecture is understanding how to shape the message for your audience.