The development of web projects requires the essential involvement of several area of discipline. Thanks to the experience that I have accumulated after almost a decade of coordinating various initiatives in the digital world, I can admit that there is a crucial and irreplaceable phase for any project’s success: Information Architecture.
Information Architecture is an area of design that is present in any element of advertising or editorial design. It’s nothing new, but it lacks recognition with it comes to the process of designing websites or applications.
To put it simply, to talk about Information Architecture is to talk about planning. It is one of the initial phases of a project in which it becomes essential to define how content and graphic elements within the site will be organized, as well as what relationship will play out between them. Heads up though! Although the development of wireframes helps us visually represent the proposed architecture of a project, it is not the end of the Information Architecture phase.
It refers to defining the importance of elements in a hierarchical manner – that is to say their relationships and the flow between them to avoid confusion. What to say, and how to say it.
Just as a good story must follow structure composed of introduction, development and outcome, web projects must find their own storytelling structure…or as they say, “first things first”.
For this process, it is essential to understand in depth what we want to say, define the content and key messages. It sounds logical to first define what we want to say, but it is a common mistake to design the site first and then define the content. Although, doing so is the equivalent of ordering a suit in the tailor shop without taking measurements or choosing the type of fabric or its color. Chance could play in our favor and the imaginary suit could serve to clothe us, but in no way would it represent who we are.
The amount of information currently available makes this process much more important as most users look for immediate answers in cyberspace – to the extent that people have come to formulate their searches as questions. Therefore, clarity and immediacy in the message is fundamental.
The four questions that will help us define the Information Architecture:
- What is the service we offer?
- Who is our client?
- How do we want to direct the client within the site / app?
- What are our differentiators and what will the client gain by choosing us?
By answering these questions we have covered a lot of the functional hierarchy for our project, and it will allow us to establish strategies to facilitate the decision of the potential customer.
The immediacy and clarity is highly valued, but creating the invitation to navigate the site for more time in order to generate a relationship with the client is also important; it is not necessary to give them everything at the beginning. Instead, think about the client's experience and how they are discovering what we have to offer them – guide them in the actions you want them to take.
It’s not about creating suspense, but about explaining the service and its benefits in the best way so that the audience can assimilate it and choose our business.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, this step is fundamental but it is part of a whole; the design and all the subsequent stages will help to highlight certain elements even more so that they contribute to the objectives of each project.
If we can define functional architecture, we will not only ensure that the site will look and read well, but we can directly influence the conversions generated by impacting the client's business.
Ramón López is the Mijo! Brands Director in Jalisco, a creative digital marketing agency with presence in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.
Ramón studied Multimedia Communication at the UDG, his professional training remained focused on digital and printed design but his passion for technology led him to programming and developing interfaces, where he found the fertile field to balance the two items. He is a founding member of Mijo! and one of the main responsible for the collaborative philosophy that identifies us. In his personal honor roll, he finds himself the father of children in which he motivates constant curiosity, to the extent that one of them is in a program of high abilities.