Information architecture is like a neural network of a digital product.
IA or Information Architecture is the art and science of labelling and organising digital product/s through illustrated documentation. It also refers to the demonstration of how information can be organised on websites, mobile apps, enterprise softwares or anything that falls into the bracket of digital world. Information architecture gives you a birds eye view of the entire ecosystem at a glance, with step by step user journey categorised through hierarchical levels of functionalities and a well captured IA flow would even consist use-cases scenarios with yes/no directional arrows.
In my past experience having witnessed and worked in a design process with and without an information architecture, I can bear witness to say the quality and output of a digital product depends immensely on the detailing and granularity of a well defined Information architecture. In this article i’ll outline the benefits of information architecture driven design process.
Benefit #1: Holistic understanding of project scope
Having an Information Architecture is like having a blueprint that maps out interaction patterns and paths to granular level of the experience. Modern techniques of card-sorting, and tools to define and craft an info architecture, in turn provides better clarity for the project. A detailed understanding of the project scope enables a development teams to provide more accurate estimates to project managers, product owners, stakeholders and reduces time it takes for a UX team to explain the idea and the ecosystem, making the process more efficient. One of the best advantages of Information Architecture is it shows how deep the experience goes, how many decision layers, how many re-directions, Yes/No scenarios and hierarchical levels there are in the product. This gives a complete idea about of the number of clicks or number of screens it takes to complete a task form usability point of view, this allows a smoother transition into wire-framing and prototyping. Since now one would exactly know how many screens need to be defined and where they need to be linked.
Benefit #2: Identify and correct content gaps
A well defined Information Architecture identifies areas of content groupings, decision-congestion, unused areas, recursive paths or duplication or show you the optimum route from point A to B in the flow giving a hawk eye view of the entire ecosystem. This information is quite valuable when it comes to decision making, weather or not to retain a feature or for teams both development and product to agree on a minimum viable product (MVP) release. It will also separate the necessary content from the redundant pieces, keeping the flow or experience lean. Ultimately an IA can make a difference when it comes to crafting a seamless goto market product.
Benefit #3: Everything in a nutshell
IA is a foundation for any digital product and it comes fully-loaded with marketing automation features, since now one would be able to see user journeys for all use cases. IA process can also help internal marketing teams, content managers and stakeholders to immensely grasp the basics and understand the digital product and functionalities. With long term usage of IA in various projects a pattern can be re-discovered or overlaps can be easily be spotted this is especially useful for content managers or UX team while documenting pattern libraries. As mentioned earlier an Information Architecture provides a hawk eye view of a digital product that provides great help to manage a product, troubleshoot a flow and produce better products in the future.