When a site clearly and intuitively conveys its story or service across and compels you to take action, it showcases sound information architecture underneath its user-facing interface.
Information architecture is the structural mapping of all the usable information in a site that encases all content in a logical order and connection, which seamlessly pushes its goals to the user’s needs. The lack or absence of sound information architecture results in bad user experience, high bounce rates and lower click throughs. This is why IA auditing is a crucial task in developing sites.
IA auditing can pinpoint underlying problems in user interface, user experience, navigation systems, and even SEO rankings. This article delves into the results and possible impacts of an information architecture audit.
Heart of the UX
IA is the central thread that weaves into the UX. Problematic or unintuitive UX designs often come up in IA audit as the lack in logical structural systems in place to store and easily retrieve data. Discoverability and autocomplete actions are the most common UX pitfalls. Integrating both company and user goals communicated in good UX is a key hallmark of a great IA.
Hackernoon notes that the growing complexity of front end development tools results in the preclusion of lower skilled developers. In what it calls ‘back-endification’ of front-end development, competition becomes more complicated and competitive edges becomes granular. Maryville University highlights how the software development industry is expected to grow exponentially up until 2024, at which point experts predict that there will be 1.1 million computing-related jobs available. This is just one of the many implications of faulty IA and lax auditing from beginner UX designers.
IA audits also lays bare problems in navigation design. Navigation design and architecture must cater to the simplest and most encompassing way content within the IA can be presented to the user. A common mistake is choosing a navigation design disjunct to the site’s content.
Smashing Magazine suggests that great navigation design considers what users look for in your site. How it’s presented though should depend on the depth of indexing and categorization used in the site’s IA.
A rigorous IA audit can segregate crucial categories – core content – and optional categories within a site. This helps in increasing ease in navigation for your core audiences while affording other niche users with good UX.
IA first, everything else comes after
This is why when approaching a design or redesigning a site, it always pays to look under the hood first. A thorough IA audit can give you a concrete idea on the complexity of the site’s content. An efficient and thoughtful IA can lead to better UX, interface, navigation, and user retention design.
The FlowMapp x Figma bundle helps you build a great UI and navigation design by letting you create detailed site maps corresponding to the content and goal of your site. As site competition becomes granular, the key challenge in 2019 is cutting off garbage and focusing on your main priorities.
Written by: Alyssa Ambers