Information architecture or IA, refers to the structure and relationship of website content. It’s the invisible layer behind the design that makes finding information intuitive and easy. An effective IA should reflect the way people think, what we refer to as their ‘mental-model’. On the flip side, the result of a poor IA is a frustrated user experience and a potential lost sale, or at the very least, a visitor who's unlikely to return.
You wouldn’t construct a building without sound architectural foundations. And the same diligence applies to the first stages of any website, application or product. These foundations equally support users familiar with a site's IA (known-item searchers), those unfamiliar (casual browsers), and users who switch between the two roles.
Seen any good information architecture lately? Probably not! A really well-designed information architecture is invisible to users. They don't notice it when labels are clear and the structure coherent. Their journey to clarity is complete.
Information architecture is easy to get wrong and unfortunately hard to fix. We employ a range of tools and workshops, including card-sorting exercises and treejack tests, to continuously evolve a site's IA. Clients understand this. And the payoff for getting this right, upfront? Much better SEO, a more seamless user experience and a more loyal customer.