Information Architecture



It’s hard to argue that one part of user experience is more important than another, but if the information architecture, or organization, of a website or application is off-base, users aren’t going to find what they’re looking for or accomplish what they came to your site or app to do. Avoiding misfires, frustrated customers, and helping our companies and clients get the best return on their digital investments is what this class is all about.

Extra $45 fee for new students / non members


This class is about bringing logic, consistency, and order to the sometimes many-headed beasts that are today’s websites and apps. We’ll start by taking an in-depth look at these six components of information architecture: structure, organization schemes, labeling, search, navigation, and taxonomy/metadata. Then we’ll give you the tools for evaluating IA using structural diagrams, wireframes and low-fidelity prototypes to ensure that your architecture makes sense and works for your site or app’s users. We’ll also cover these points over the five weeks of the class:

  • Essential logic and concepts you need to create useful, usable architecture and experiences
  • Understanding structured data and content
  • Learn what kind of structures makes the most sense for user and business goals
  • Designing search and logical taxonomies so information can be easily found
  • Documenting architecture via structural diagrams, site maps, and content inventories
  • User research techniques to inspire and validate information architecture

Who should take this class?

This class is for current and prospective UX professionals who want to understand the principles of information architecture, taxonomies, navigation, and search in current generation websites and apps.


Must have taken Fundamentals of UX, User Research, and Prototyping Tools, or by permission.

Detailed Course Outline

In this class, you’ll learn how to develop sound, durable and flexible information architectures that can show immediate results and adapt to changing circumstances. Please note that this section of the syllabus is subject to change throughout the course. The online syllabus will not necessarily be updated with changes once the course begins. Please refer to course handouts for the most current assignment details.

Week 1: What do you have to work with?

Introductions and Overview of the Course

Overview of Information Architecture

  • Information in the world
  • Information in the head
  • Places and things made of information
  • Metadata
  • Taxonomies
  • Ontologies

Why does Information Architecture Matter?

  • Information use cases
  • Types of information structures
  • Information architecture in a business context

Assignment: find an example of information in the world, document it, and explain it to the class

Week 2: Understanding information behavior

What is information behavior?

  • Some common information seeking behaviors
  • How information behavior affects what you build

Mental Models

  • Mental models and how people synthesize them
  • Exposing and understanding mental models

Generative user research techniques for discovering information behavior

  • Card sorting
  • Tree testing
  • Quant vs. Qual

Assignment: Conduct a brief, limited card sorting exercise to expose information behavior

Homework discussion

Week 3: How should it be organized?

How to build structure around information

  • Information Modeling
  • Content Modeling
  • Navigation Modeling

Organization Schemes

  • Labeling
  • Hierarchies
  • Relationships

Assignment: Design an information model

Homework discussion

Week 4: Information Architecture in action

What is findability, and why does it matter?


  • How do users really navigate
  • Strategies for effective navigation
  • Modeling Navigation techniques in-depth


  • The Information Architecture of Search
  • Search and information behavior
  • Using taxonomies and metadata to improve search experiences

“There is no shelf” Helping Navigation and Search Work together

Assignment: Design a navigation model

Homework discussion

Week 5: How do you know it will work?

Documenting and Communicating Information Architecture

  • Diagramming
  • Prototyping
  • When to document, when to prototype

Evaluating Information Architecture

  • Validating a structural hypothesis
  • Testing taxonomies
  • Testing information experiences

Measuring Performance of Information Architecture

  • What and how to measure
  • Ongoing performance evaluation
  • ROI

Information Architecture in the Enterprise

Concluding discussion

Instructor evaluations

You may receive a partial refund of your tuition if you drop a class or your enrollment is terminated by SVC due to lack of progress or disciplinary problems. In these cases, this is the schedule for determining the amount of your refund:

Cancellation and Refund Policy for Classes:

SVC will refund all money paid if the student is not accepted. This includes instances where a class is cancelled by the school.

SVC will refund all the money paid if the student cancels within five business days (excluding Sundays and holidays) after registration and/or an initial payment is made, as long as the student has not begun training.

SVC will retain the established $45 registration fee if the student cancels after the fifth business day after registration and/or making an initial payment.

If training is terminated after the student enters classes, SVC may retain the registration fee established under (3) of this subsection, plus a percentage of the total tuition as described in the following table:


# of Classes Attended

% Tuition Refunded

0 100%
1 75%
2 50%
3+ 0%


# of Classes Attended

% Tuition Refunded

0 100%
1 90%
2 75%
3–5 50%
6+ 0%

When calculating refunds, the official date of a student's termination is the last day of recorded attendance:

(a) When the school receives notice of the student's intention to discontinue the training program; or,
(b) When the student is terminated for a violation of a published school policy which provides for termination; or,
(c) When a student, without notice, fails to attend classes for thirty calendar days.

All refunds must be paid within thirty calendar days of the student’s official termination date.

There is a $75 cancellation fee for no-shows and enrollees dropping a one-day workshop without a valid excuse within 3 business days of the scheduled start time as published on the SVC website.

This refund policy is in accordance with Washington State Law, 490-105-130 (RCW 28C.10.050 (1)(b)).

School of Visual Concepts

SVC helps people already in the business of marketing, branding, design, UX, and content creation fill in the gaps in their knowledge through public full- and half-day workshops and custom corporate workshops.

If you’re looking to add to your portfolio or fill in some blank spaces in your brain, you can’t do much better than SVC.

The instructors are all top-notch working professionals who bring real world and big brand knowledge into the classroom. Our thinking is that the best people to teach you something aren't teachers. So, instead of a full-time faculty, our classes and workshops are taught by working professionals. More often than not, these are people at the top of their game, not wannabes or used-to-be-best. The connections you'll make with these pros can sometimes be as valuable as the material they'll teach you.

All this happens in an environment of friendliness, helpfulness and encouragement. Might this have something to do with the fact that 99% of SVC students say they’d recommend us?

We’re 100% certain that it does.

More classes from School of Visual Concepts

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Reviews of School of Visual Concepts

(5 Reviews)
Garth P.
Let's see... you could spend $400 on the newest iProduct, which will be unsexy and outdated within months of its unboxing, or you could spend $400 on making your brain permanently bigger, sexier, smarter and more creative. I can honestly say that I would not be in the job I'm in - nor anywhere near as successful at what I do - without the skills I learned at SVC. Whatever class you're considering or on the fence about taking: TAKE IT. You'll be a better person for it. I've taken classes nearly every quarter since graduating from UW in 2011, and I'd say that I now use more knowledge that I gained at SVC than UW in my everyday work as a Digital Marketing Manager. When you walk into SVC, you're walking into a place with good, everyone-is-here-to-improve-themselves-and-meet-­other-creative-peeps vibes, and it feels more at home than a typical classroom. I can't say enough good things about SVC or how it has enabled and enhanced my career and personal pursuits. Take a class there and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about as you sign up for your next three.
Randy J.
This School is a treasure for Seattle. The teachers are all working in their fields and so students can meet people and learn from the real deal. My daughter took classes here for a year and a half and was never disappointed in the teaching. These classes are meant to increase skills at current jobs or prepare you for a new area. I am not a designer but decided to take a beginning drawing/creativity class at SVC and the teacher is WAY above and beyond what I expected in terms of thinking about creativity and thinking about your emotions and roadblocks to creativity. Plus they have a snack bar that is over the top!!
Nio S.
First off, this school is simply amazing. Don't fooled by the size of this campus because the quality of the knowledge aquired here is unmeasurable. I have taken the HTML/CSS classes both level 1 and 2 courses. The instructors that teach here are actual working professionals outside of the school. So in many ways this benefits the student because the teacher is up to date with their skill set aside from a full time teacher who only knows whats written in text books. I first came to my HTML/CSS class thinking it was gonna be boring with just coding. is just coding but its code that I truly understand and get a grasp of to my own advantage. Each of these classes were only once a week for 5 weeks. The amount of knowledge given in one night is so crazy and unbelievably not overwhelming. In the end, you know more than you did before.
Panda B.
I love SVC! Thing I like the best is that all instructors are practicing designers so you will not be getting the "academic" perspective but rather the point of view of designers working at actual top-notch design studios around Seattle. I've been taking classes for over a year and every single one has been fantastic. Students tend to be professionals so the attitude is serious and focused which enables you to get the most out of each class. On top of that, staff at the school is fantastic and will do anything to help you achieve your goals (they helped me with my portfolio which helped in landing me my new job). If you are looking for a way to upgrade your design skills, this is the place for you.
Kenny P.
My experience at the School of Visual Concepts has been amazing. It's the perfect school for those of us who have a full time job, but still want to improve our skills. The teachers are all professionals in Seattle so it's really nice to be taught by people that are still at the top of their game. The class sizes are also pretty small so you'll get to know your instructor very well and get some great individual help. You do not have to be an artist to benefit from the classes here. I took a creative thinking seminar once that has helped me in every job I've had. If you are thinking about going back to school, you should give SVC a call or stop by to see how they can help you get to where you want to be.