What is your business’ end-game is for the customer’s visit? Have you adequately structured your site for the customer experience to help them along their visit to get them to your goal post? This article looks to answer these questions and explore how one must focus on the target audience, the technologies related to the website, and the data that will be presented through the website.
Uniquely designed, functional, customer-centric websites have the best chance of standing out among the millions of sites out there. The ultimate goal is to provide your website visitors with the best possible experience in the hopes it will be the start of a long, loyal relationship with your brand. However, a memorable user experience isn’t possible without a focus on information architecture.
Let’s define information architecture and how it works in UX.
What is Information Architecture?
Information architecture is a relatively new field. Adobe defines it as “a discipline that focuses on the organization of information within digital products. For example, when designers create apps and websites, they layout each individual screen so that the user can easily find the information they need.”
How you structure your content on digital platforms enables people to find and interact with it with ease. Information architecture’s place in UX is explicitly crucial to your site’s success.
How does Information Architecture work in UX?
People come to your website expecting to at least be able to find the information they’re looking for in a normal flow. But why not wow them? Information architecture helps you meet user expectations and gives you the opportunity to delight them with an experience that seems tailor-made.
People don’t stay on sites that make it difficult to find what they’re looking for, and they’re likely to never come back. Information architecture helps you determine the proper organization and flow for the content on your site that results in users getting what they need, when they need it, and ultimately enjoying their experience.
7 Things Information Architects Must Focus On
You don’t often see an “information architect” job listing. Still, information architecture as a field has gained popularity over the last decade because of its substantial influence on the user experience and overall success of a website.
Whether you’re a budding information architect or required to learn its concepts as part of your role in designing a site, there are quite a few things you must focus on to be successful.
Great websites are tailored to the needs, wants, and behaviors of their target audience. For instance, if a company’s target audience primarily uses mobile devices to access sites, it would ensure its site is optimized for mobile devices. It would also implement a responsive design to provide visitors with a good experience.
With this in mind, your target audience should be considered entirely before making any permanent decisions on how you’re going to structure content on your website. Research the following to guarantee the way you organize your information resonates with your visitors:
- How do they usually navigate a site?
- Where do they expect certain functions to be?
- What labels are they familiar with?
- How do they like their content presented?
- Where do they like the text on the page?
- How do they like images positioned?
- What homepage designs resonate with them most?
- What’s their next move after visiting the home page?
- How do they end up making a purchase or signing up for a service?
You have to understand how your target audience behaves on a website and design yours in a way that makes those behaviors easier to engage in.
Although your site should cater to your visitors, it should be done in a way that supports business goals as well. An information architect must be familiar with the company’s goals for its site and how they affect the bottom line.
Let’s say one goal is to convert blog visitors into long-term subscribers. For this specific company, long-term blog subscribers are a rapidly growing revenue stream. An information architect can design the website home page with a subscriber pop-up that shows up after a visitor takes a specific action. They can learn more about what actions communicate a visitor is likely to subscribe to improve the pop-up and the chances of conversion.
Design and Development Processes
If the structure of your content is overly complex, it’s likely your design and development teams will be unable to bring the vision to life. Remain focused on keeping things simple and solution-oriented to ease the design and development process.
The plans you have for structuring content on your site are bound to change as you learn more about your customers. You need to be comfortable with experimenting, learning, and altering your plans.
Agile methodology helps you do just that. You’re able to come up with a concept, introduce it into your information architecture, and let your visitors tell you whether they like it or not. Then, based on that feedback, you can make necessary adjustments to better your site structure.
Ultimately, you’ll develop a better customer experience because you’ve created a consistent dialogue with your visitors that encourages them to tell you what they need and want, as well as a system that allows you to implement their feedback as quickly as possible.
What software and tools are you using to create and design your site? What technology will your visitors use to access your website and engage with it? Information architects need to answer these questions thoroughly to:
- Ensure what they envision is even possible with the tools and software used in the design and development process.
- Make the user experience consistent across different technologies with the site structure adapting to each seamlessly.
A considerable part of solid information architecture in UX is understanding what data needs to be displayed and how to best present it on the site. In other words, what information do you want to convey on your homepage? About page? Product page? Then, how can you display this information on the website clearly and concisely for your visitors?
Whatever data you plan to present on your site, make sure it’s visually pleasing. The actual information presented on websites matters, but the look of web pages is important as well. Information architects are heavily involved in ensuring content is strategically placed on each page. For instance, determining how much text will be on the page, where the images should be placed in contrast to it, and the color schemes, fonts, and additional visual elements used.
Each page needs to articulate the necessary information and be interactive enough to move the customer along in their journey with your brand.
Let’s say you’re designing a B2B eCommerce site. Your goal is to structure all elements on your site to encourage the visitor to take the desired action — making a purchase. In that case, your information architecture strategy should be rooted in functionality, modernity, and providing an experience that deepens customer relationships. Using a good mix of content blocks and highlighting your conversion path with the right color scheme are great first steps.
The quality of the user experience on your website is directly connected to information architecture. If your site is a mess to navigate and visitors can’t find what they need, they won’t stay. And second chances for a company that provided a terrible user experience are slim.
Make sure you have a firm understanding of what information architecture is and how it works in UX. Then, focus on the things suggested above to become a top-tier information architect, or at least grasp the concepts that will help your site experience be the best it can be.
illustration: design vector created by stories