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Lesson 4Information Architecture
ObjectiveExplain how Information Architecture is used to Organize Design Information

Information Architecture is used to Organize Design Information

Once you have conceptualized the look and feel of your site by designing Signs and Metaphors, you not only need to plan where to place them, you must also determine how you want the user to navigate through them.

Information Architecture

The second layer of the Web Interaction Model is Information Architecture, which includes the Web site's organizing structure and navigation system. Information Architecture provides systems for structuring and finding information, allowing users to interpret the designer's meaning, as shown in the MouseOver below:
Three elements of information architecture : 1) Users , 2) Context, 3) Content

IA Web Interaction
Information Architecture WWW
Information Architecture exists wherever information is compiled for access and use. It establishes conventions to structure and organize information in meaningful ways. For example, the Information Architecture of a book provides a structure for content that includes chapters, paragraphs, sentences, and footnotes. Books also offer navigational elements such as a table of contents, page numbers, chapter titles, and paragraph breaks. The pathway through a book is generally linear and sequential, although an index allows you to find information nonsequentially.
One simple way to think about Information Architecture is to consider a phone book. Color is used as a meaningful sign to signify residential (white pages) information and business (yellow pages) information; information is organized alphabetically, by name for residents or by type of service or product for a business. The restaurant section may have an alternate Information Architecture that lists restaurants alphabetically by type of cuisine, for example, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and vegetarian.

Content structure on the Web

Information Architecture for the Web is different from paper-based Information Architecture. The structure of information is highly customizable, based on users's needs. For commercial sites, you should always consider how information is organized. Information with poor structure can result in loss of sales or confidence in the company.
Effective structure and navigational tools are of utmost importance. When a user cannot find the information he or she seeks frustration may lead the user to exit the site altogether.

Information Architecture Differences - Exercise

Click the Exercise link below to apply your understanding of information architecture.
Information Architecture Differences - Exercise
In the next lesson, you will learn how Web navigation applies Information Architecture to access information on a Web page.