Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Information Architecture?

Information architecture can be defined as organizing, structuring, and labeling content to support findability and usability. 

For example, on a website or database, an effective information architecture makes content easier to find and easier to use.

Properly planned, Information Architecture (IA) & site navigation enhances the effectiveness of user interfaces (UIs) by supporting & enabling task completion. Ultimately, effective information architecture minimizes confusion and efficiency that costs organizations increased sales, a trustworthy brand reputation, a positive user experience (UX), and can lead to expensive redesigns.

What is a science gateway?

According to the Science Gateways Community Institute (SGCI), A science gateways are …”online interfaces that give researchers, educators, and students easy access to shared resources that are otherwise inaccessible or unaffordable for a large segment of the scientific community.”

For details about science gateways, please visit the Science Communities Gateway Institute (SGCI) website.

Where does information architecture fit with user experience (UX)?

The information architecture process should come before a website is designed or developed.

[Linear diagram here. Image heading is “XXX.” Caption is “Figure XX: Information architecture should precede website design and development.” ]

Ideally, information architecture should be an ongoing (iterative) process.

[Circular-process diagram here. Image heading is “XXX.” Caption is “Figure XX: Information architecture as part of the ongoing process of website creation and maintenance.”

What is the value of information architecture?

One reason information architecture is important is that it enables task completion. Users of your website, intranet, database, etc. will be able to complete their desired tasks (and end goals) more efficiently and effectively.

According to Peter Morville[1], other purposes of IA are to help users understand:

• Where they are (orientation)
• What they’ve found 
• What’s around (context)
• What to expect (information scent)  

As a result, IA informs content strategy through identifying word choices (labels). It also informs user interface (UI) design and interaction design (IxD) through playing a role in the wireframing and prototyping processes.

Ultimately, an effective information architecture saves time and money on costly redesigns. 

Read details on how to explain the value of information architecture to the C-suite.

The best book about information architecture is called Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond, 4th edition, by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, and Jorge Arango. It is commonly called the Polar Bear book (due to the cover).