Why information architecture is important for designers

3 min read Optimal Workshop

Sitting inside any beautifully crafted and designed digital product, there must be a fully functional and considered information architecture.

As much as information architecture shouldn’t be developed in a vacuum. Neither should the design and look of digital products. In fact, a large proportion of the function of digital designers is devoted to supporting users locating content they need and driving them towards content that the product owners want them to find.

Incorporating visual markers to make sure that certain content is distinct from the rest or creating layers that demonstrate the diverse content on a product.

If you do not have quality content, it is impossible to design a quality digital product. It all comes back to creating a user experience that makes sense and is designed to make task completion simple. And this relates back to designing the product with the content planned for it in mind.

8 Principles of information architecture, according to Dan Brown

As a designer, the more you know about information architecture, the better the products you design will meet your user requirements and deliver what they need. If you work with an information architect, even better. If you’re still learning about information architecture the 8 Principles according to Dan Brown is a great place to begin.

If you haven’t come across Dan Brown yet, you have more than likely come across his 8 principles. Dan Brown is one of the UX world’s most prolific experts with a career that spans most areas of UX designs. He’s written 3 books on the subject and experience across a multitude of high profile projects. Aiding large organizations to make the most of their user experience.

  1. The principle of objects: Content should be treated as a living, breathing thing. It has lifecycles, behaviors, and attributes.
  2. The principle of choices: Less is more. Keep the number of choices to a minimum.
  3. The principle of disclosure: Show a preview of information that will help users understand what kind of information is hidden if they dig deeper.
  4. The principle of examples: Show examples of content when describing the content of the categories.
  5. The principle of front doors: Assume that at least 50% of users will use a different entry point than the home page.
  6. The principle of multiple classifications: Offer users several different classification schemes to browse the site’s content.
  7. The principle of focused navigation: Keep navigation simple and never mix different things.
  8. The principle of growth: Assume that the content on the website will grow. Make sure the website is scalable.

It’s highly likely that you’ve already used some, or all, of these IA principles in your designs. Don’t be shy about mastering them, or at the very least be familiar. They can only help you become a better user experience designer.

Wrap up

Mastering the 8 principles, according to IA expert Dan Brown will see you mastering the complex tasks of information architecture. Understanding IA is key to creating digital designs with a content structure that is functional, logical and just what your users need to navigate your product. Design without good IA doesn’t work as well, just as a content structure without a well designed interface will not engage users.