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“A hands on leader … through all aspects of the design process”

Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) is the structural design of a shared information space. Effective IA creates meaningful, goal-oriented connections between digital content, user needs, technical requirements, and business goals.

I specialize in research-driven modeling, design, and validation techniques that produce system-wide solutions for information organization, labeling, and navigation.

Why Information Architecture Matters

Purposeful, goal-oriented IA is important because without it your users will have a hard time finding what they’re looking for, understanding what they find, and knowing what to do next. You’ll know this is the case when you see short visits, high bounce rates, abandoned shopping carts, and general befuddlement over how to navigate your content.

Learn more: What is Information Architecture? »

Common Activities

The exact program of work is always a little different from one situation to the next, but there are a few phases, activities, and deliverables that tend to be pretty common in an IA-focused project.

Discovery

The purpose of discovery is to understand the goals of your organization, the goals of your website and its users, and the scope and scale of your content. Discovery activities can include:

  • Interviewing stakeholders and subject matter experts
  • Reviewing and synthesizing existing user and market research
  • Crawling and inventorying current content
  • Assessing current analytics for insight into user behavior and key resources
  • Assessing performance, usability, and accessibility of your current site

Research

Research provides a cool-headed, grounded set of insights for making objective, goal-oriented strategy and design decisions. Common research activities include:

  • User interviews, surveys, and polls
  • Baseline usability tests
  • Card sorting exercises
  • Ethnographic research
  • Heuristic (best practices) assessments
  • Competitive and peer site audits

Learn more: Design Research Services »

Strategy

Before putting pen to paper for solutions, it’s usually a good idea to take what we’ve learned in discovery and research and align on how to solve the design problems we’ve identified. This helps to ensure that our entire project team is all “pulling in the same direction.” Tasks for accomplishing this include:

  • Identifying and articulating organizational and website goals
  • Establishing target metrics
  • Establishing design principles
  • Identifying and articulating high level web, application, and voice strategies

Design

Information architecture recommendations typically need to account for category structures, metadata schemes, labeling systems, navigation systems, and search systems. Common design activities for creating these include:

  • Defining and articulating task flows
  • Creating classification and metadata schemes
  • Creating linked data models
  • Sourcing, adapting, and/or creating taxonomies
  • Site map and navigation design
  • Wireframe design and annotation

Learn more: Linked Data Engineering Services »

Testing & Iteration

Good discovery and research usually leads to remarkably effective IA improvements. Validating and, where needed, iterating the design, however, is orders of magnitude less expensive to do prior to implementation. It’s also refreshingly straightforward. Common tasks include:

  • Tree testing
  • Figma/InVision/XD clickthrough prototyping
  • Prototype usability testing
  • Content-first HTML prototyping
  • Improvement and iteration based on test findings

Development & Integration Support

Ideally, your development team or partner has been along for the ride on our project. If so, the need for additional support could be pretty light. If that’s not the case, however, I’m here to help you through the implementation process. Support tasks I’ve provided for clients in the past include:

  • Content mapping
  • Detailed wireframe annotation and interaction design specification
  • Motion design specification
  • Design socialization and training workshops
  • Ongoing development and information system support

Case Studies & Insights

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