Information Architecture is a discipline and a set of methods that aim to identify and organize information in a purposeful and service-oriented way. It is also a term used to describe the resulting document or documents that define the facets of a given information domain.
The goal of Information Architecture is to improve information access, relevancy, and usefulness to a given audience, as well as improve the publishing entity's ability to maintain and develop the information over time. It is primarily associated with website design and it is directly related to the following professional disciplines: User interface design, content development, content management, usability engineering, interaction design, and user experience design. It is also indirectly related to database design, document design, and knowledge management.
A webpage is the equivalent to a modern day storefront. It is often the first point of contact for a potential client, which is why their first impression is vital. Creating a precise and detailed plan of action with mockups and wireframes detailing the user functionality of the site will lead to a clearly envisioned end product for users.
- Content Inventories
- SMC will perform a content inventory for a new or preexisting site, itis the first step in a series of activities that result in more useful website information.
- Content Hierarchy
- A Content Hierarchy can be performed as a "top down" (broad categorizations) or "bottom up" (detailed attributes) oriented process.
- Site Flows
- A Site Flow is a diagram depicting the use or user flow of information. When site flows are produced according to empirical user research, they can help establish information relationships that other methods might miss.
- Content Model
- A Content Model is a broadly used term referring to organizing principles for grouping content, e.g. by inherent relationships such as by product, process, audience, etc. And/or referring to ways of structuring data, including metadata, associatively.
- Controlled Vocabularies
- We carefully select, preferred and/or authorized terms, including their synonyms.
- SMC collects related terms for the purpose of synonym control and mapping. Commonly used in support of search systems. For Information Architects, thesauri normally define many-to-one relationships between terms.
- SMC will create a hierarchical index that define content relationships for the purpose of classification.
- Metadata, and Metadata Schema
- Descriptive element/value pairs used to describe, tag, and sometimes classify, information in various forms and formats.
- Site/Content Maps
- For smaller-scale websites, the navigation system can serve as a de-facto site map. For larger ones however, site maps that provide a complete and hierarchical index of all important content and functionality titles have proven over time to be extremely useful to website users. It can even be said that site maps gave birth to the practice of Information Architecture.