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Information Architecture (IA)

What is information architecture?

Information architecture refers to the organization of the information on a website or web application to optimize usability. Andrew Dillon (2002) has drawn a distinction between “big” vs.“little IA” (Information Architecture). Big IA focuses on the organization and usability of an application and little IA focuses on the organization for the information itself. The type of information architecture used depends on the functions that the creators want to emphasize in the application.

Information architecture differentiation

One can understand information architecture as “architecture for information.” Information architecture is different than usability engineering and interaction design because these two fields focus on either the tasks themselves or analyzing those tasks, whereas information architecture is more concerned with how elements are organized with the intention of increasing user-friendliness.

Information architecture conventions

Some familiar components of information architecture on websites include navigation, search functions, labeling, and organization, and it is the job of the information architect to “build” the website to maintain optimal balance in all areas. Many websites follow established conventions, such as navigation bars and buttons that link to the home page from every page in the website. Card Sorting can be a useful way of determining how the information architecture of an application should be structured.

Related terms

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