The value good Information Architecture brings to product design

First published on Medium Oct 27, 2020

Information architecture is the unloved, often invisible, sibling of the product design disciplines. When I started my career IA was emerging from library science, organising and categorising content was important. Google killed that (or so the story goes). IA retreated into the barren wastelands. So what value can IA bring to product design in the Twenties?

In a typical product, information exists at three levels;

  • in a users mind,
  • in the product interface,
  • and in the product’s databases

… the job of information architecture is to get them all to line up.

If the information in your database is aligned with the way it will be displayed in the interface, your product will be easier to build. If the way information is displayed in your product matches the way your user understands the product (and their situation and environment) then the user will have an easier and more enjoyable time using your product.

Here are two slides to illustrate the concept. (Apologies for these not being very mobile-friendly.)

Good IA makes ideas easy to understand
Bad IA leaves everything messy

The job of doing information architecture is to make the information spaces more aligned.