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
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 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
Week 3: How should it be organized?
How to build structure around information
- Information Modeling
- Content Modeling
- Navigation Modeling
Assignment: Design an information model
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
Week 5: How do you know it will work?
Documenting and Communicating Information Architecture
- 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
Information Architecture in the Enterprise