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Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) refers to the structure or organization of your website. It describes the ways in which the different pages of your site relate to one another and ensures information is organized in a consistent and predictable way on each page.

IA involves steps such as:
• assessing existing and needed content,
• organizing the pages,
• providing clues to help use the site efficiently, and
• developing navigational structure.1

Why do I need information architecture?


IA helps site users
A well organized site will help your visitors find key information quickly and will reduce staff time spent answering questions. It also will make the experience of using the site more coherent, intuitive and satisfying.

IA facilitates efficient site development
Well planned information architecture will help to ensure that all of the phases of your website development run smoothly and efficiently. Time invested up front on IA helps you assess the size of your project and prevent time-consuming and costly last-minute changes to design, content and technical development.

IA lays the groundwork for site growth
If your site is being built in a content management system that allows editors to add their own pages, the site may grow quickly, sometimes in confusing ways. Good IA will anticipate growth and will establish a framework that makes it easy to decide how to add new items to your navigation so that it remains intuitive to users.

1 Designing Web Sites that Work: Usability for the Web (Tom Brink, 2002)

Guide to Creating Website Information Architecture and Content

Princeton's Guide to Creating Website Information Architecture and Content (.pdf) will help you get started on a website, regardless of the tools you use to build it.