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Lesson 5 Organizational architecture
Objective Identify common Web organization schemes and structures.

Web Organization Schemes

Website Organizational Architecture

In this lesson, you will be learning more about key components and concepts of information architecture


Whether on a website or in a thesaurus, information needs to be organized in order to be meaningful and accessible. The best organization systems are transparent, meaning they are so easy to navigate that users focus on the content rather than struggling to understand how it's organized. One of the benefits of the Web is that architects can apply multiple organization systems to the same site content. Organizing information relies on schemes and structures.

What are organization schemes?

Organization schemes establish a logical grouping and ordering of content items based on one or more shared characteristics. For example, the phone book is based on a simple organization scheme. In the Yellow Pages, items are grouped and ordered by at least two shared characteristics: topic and the alphabet. Organization schemes can be exact, such as alphabetical or chronological schemes, or ambiguous, such as topical, task-oriented, audience-specific, or metaphor-based schemes.

What are organization structures?

Organization structures define relationships between individual content items and groups. The structure provides the pathways that users follow to move from one information item or group to another item or group.
There are three main organization structures that can be used in Web architecture. These three approaches are often used simultaneously in complementary ways:
  1. Hierarchical
  2. Hypertext
  3. Database - Oriented organization

Principle Based Structure

Hierarchical organization

Hierarchical organization is a top-down approach that places broad categories at the top with increasingly detailed items branching out into sub-categories, such as the traditional company organizational chart.

Hypertext organization

Hypertext organization allows for hyperlinked connection of information chunks in either a hierarchical or non-hierarchical way. Most sites now use hypertext-based organization to some extent. However, a reliance on hypertext organization without a clear hierarchy can cause users to get lost.

Database-oriented organization

Database-oriented organization provides all the benefits of databases: access to vast records, field-specific searching capabilities, content management, and security. If used alone, however, the database model has drawbacks such as the rigidity of search rules and poor handling of heterogeneous content.

Question: What is the difference between an organizational scheme and an organizational structure?
Answer: An organizational scheme is the criteria by which the information is sorted and categorized (for example, alphabetically, by target audience, geographically, sequentially, or by topic,).
An organizational structure refers to how the information is stored and presented (a top-down hierarchy, through hypertext linking, or database-oriented).
In the next lesson, you will read about more key components of information architecture: navigation and labeling.