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What Is Information Architecture?

Information architecture is a method for structuring information with the result of improving performance. Read on to learn more about this field and its applications.

Information Architecture Defined

The Information Architecture Institute defines information architecture (IA) as the fundamental design of information in shared settings and methods of naming and arranging software, online communities, intranets and websites to make them easier to use and the information more accessible. It refers to the way information is stored or grouped together, the methods used to travel through the information and the structure or system's vocabulary. Information architecture, if done properly, allows users to maneuver easily through the system in order to retrieve the information they desire.

Important Facts About Information Architecture

Possible Careers Information architect, interaction designer, human factors engineer, software product manager
Degree/Certificate Levels Bachelor's, master's, Ph.D., graduate certificates
Common Courses Computer programming, statistical methods, interactive multimedia, designing for mobile web
Online Availability Graduate programs are available online
Average Salary (2019) $96,158* (for all information architects)
Job Outlook (2016-26) 6%** (for computer network architects)

Sources: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Its History, Applications and Benefits

Information architecture came about due to the unprecedented amount of information found on the Internet and in CDs and computer software. There was a need to organize the information for the benefit of end users. It borrows from other disciplines, such as computer-human interactions, designs that are user focused and library science.

Information architecture serves the user, making complex information systems easier to use and therefore, the product more successful. An example of information architecture at work is a website with its associated links. The information architecture of a webpage can be seen in its site map, which can reveal how to navigate the system.

Information architecture looks at how to create efficient and effective information structures and systems that allow users to accesses information. It involves several processes, such as management, implementation, preparation and administration. It also takes into consideration end users' needs and their understanding of the system and the interaction of information or content with other entities, such as educational software, retrieval systems, databases, websites or digital libraries. Selected advantages of information architecture include the following:

  • Development of products that can be readily used
  • Greater satisfaction among customers
  • Production of information, which the user does not have a problem finding or understanding
  • Increased competency or proficiency among users