Thursday, September 12, 2013

Information Architecture Planning


In the current digital-world the amount of data that the company’s are storing in their repositories’ and also dealing is growing day by day and it is very important for any company to efficiently use this data to make company success or failure, for any company the first priority is customer, if the customer is not able to find what he wants in company website then chances are high to loose them, the web sites which helps customers to find what they need quickly and easily will definitely win the customers

How can I describe you as Information Architecture?

I am an information architect and I am responsible for organizing huge amount of data in my company

What client is expecting?

You have received requirements from client to build a new website; you can develop this website with four pages and 10 components and deliver it, but what exactly the client is expecting out of these functionalities? What are the web site goals?

Identifying goals are very simple, assemble all the people who are responsible for making project success, it includes client or peers and ask them to provide order of importance to the content. Collect all suggestions and document everything share it with all stake holders to get approval

This article talks about how efficiently we can organize data

Why do we need to organize data?

Have you ever think why your company is investing lot of money and time on designing and developing intranet portals? What is the return on investment? Can we not design sites without wasting money and time?

The answer for all above questions is yes, we can do only, if you are ready to face below problems

The cost of losing customers:

The site looks very good but day by day, no of hits per day is going down and finally identified that the customer is not able to find what he wants in your portal

The cost of re-design:

How many dollars do us need to spend, if the site is poorly designed and not meeting your goals and need to re-design entire site
The cost of time:

The employee time is very important for any organization, how much time does your employee spends extra 5minutes per day struggling to find out what he wants? If you don’t have proper intranet portal

Assume that you are working for a big organization and everyday you get hundreds of mails, if you don’t organize your mails properly finally you end-up with wasting time on searching mails

The cost of maintenance:

How much money you spend to maintain technical people or third party providers (Savvies, Rack space etc…) to update single line in your page, there should be some kind of mechanism that the non-technical people also should be able to update the content

In WCM based portals every month we may expect hundreds of pages, how can we handle this situation if we don’t have proper architecture planning?

What is information architecture?

Information architecture talks about organizing your company’s information and website structure by categorizing content logically, priority basis and also ensures that the content is organized in proper structure in each section of web site

The best example for information architecture is Library, because the Library are well-structured and they follow subject oriented approaches, when you get into Library you can see all magazines are placed one side and books are placed other side, in books section you can find clear separation between each and every category, all fiction related information placed one side and all romantic related books are other side

When I was in child hood , I used to go to library to borrow some books for my grand-mother , the librarians used to keep display boards to easily identify books

by writing book information like author, book name etc…on the display board by seeing display boards, I could easily find out what I want

Here, the librarian plays information architecture role, first he will try to find out relationship between each and every books by following label of books or on author’s information and then put it in proper place

Also the librarian tries to find out what kind of information the readers are looking for by interacting with them, based on that he will have a call with library’s organizers and get approvals to purchase new books

Information architecture planning?

When it comes to website design the IA plays with content such as images, videos, files, documents, people, process etc…

Long time back, I was designed and implemented intranet portal for my company on SharePoint content management system while developing this, I used to interact with lot of people to find out what exactly they were expecting, to find out, we used to have regular meetings with respective department heads and create datasheet for every department and shared with respective POC’s as well as all stakeholders

We asked them to prioritize content and give ranking to every user story or paragraph in the datasheet but, sometimes if the client is poor client then we may need to give suggestions based on experience to the client on prioritization of content

Once, we got all the datasheets from respective managers or POC’s , we used to prioritize all and once we got some logical conclusion by analyzing content and identifying audience, we have designed draft version of sitemap and wire-frames to showcase to leads how the website looks like

Identifying the stake-holders?

As an Information Architect you need to identify and clarify all stake holder goals, the stake-holders are the people who define the depth and scope of project, identifying the audiences, determining sensitivity of information, giving approvals on each phase of development and giving functional clarification

Roles include: Senior Managers who give approval for every phase
Content owners, end users, development leads, respective department heads etc…

What are goals?

The world is changing day by day and people come up with new strategy’s to sustain in current market, for that they will ask you to create new site or migrate current site to either in content management system or some other platform

As an information architect you need to find out why they are moving to new platform? To
  • Increase sales
  • Attract more audience
  • Reduce phone calls by providing online support
  • Increase brand value
Getting information from stake-holders is not one day job. The customer’s priorities changes day by day, so you need to have regular meetings with them and try to get what exactly they are expecting and also to get approvals on functional clarifications on certain phases

Target Audience:

The audiences are people who visit your website
  • People who sells items in your site
  • People who purchase items through your site
  • People who maintains content of site
  • Venture capitalist who wants to know about your company etc…
As an IA you need to identify whom the client is targeting who are the primary audience and secondary audience

There is an ecommerce portal which sells products through online; their target audience is men’s and they get few females customers also, but the client says that they have strong male audience , so while designing our website we need to keep this in mind and we need to design our site which targets men’s as primary

Content analysis

Don’t wait for complete information, first start analyzing the content which you already have, interact with your stake holders and decide what should be included in a new site, if you are migrating content from existing site, then analyze the existing content management system, sitemap, total pages and find out what needs to be include and excluded, keep the content that will be only useful to end users, don’t put un necessary information which the end-user really does not want

Next, try to imagine end-user perceptive, once he/she enters into your web site, what you are show casing to them based on client goals is the matter

Normally, digital marketing sites displays top 10 articles or products and special offers etc...On home page

Organizing content:

Once the analysis is completed next step is organizing content, we need to identify the relation between content and also relation between one page to other , if you feel there is a similar content, you can make it as separate group and provide meaning full name, later we need to design navigation structure based on these groups

Making logical groups are very important thing, because while going forward we will apply metadata and labels on this


Before designing sitemap we should try to understand what are all the functionalities, features and what kind of content are going to have in website