Information Architecture and User Interface Design - two different dimensions of User Experience.

Updated: January 01, 2012

At the very top level, we are talking about an information technology system within which an information architect and a visual designer deliver respective tasks. A system is expected to be structured in a way that users find it intuitively easy to use. In the Web context, this structure is termed information architecture which makes user experience simply simple and how we present that structure visually is what a visual designer delivers. Two different ball games.

I would like to quote the co-authors of "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web", Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld, who are considered gurus of Information Architecture and in fact, whose books inspired me to become an Information Architect, "No matter how much qualitative or quantitative research you've done, the development of an information architecture strategy is inherently a creative process..."

Any creative process that needs to be structured to encompass collaborative tasks, should ideally follow a methodology. I have, therefore, derived a information architectural methodology viewable over this link which shows a very distinctly defined space reserved for design deliverables whereas information architecture lays emphasis on information flow tying user interface, navigational structure, network relationships between systems, metadata and controlled vocabularies.

Here is an User Experience example where Information Atchitecture can make User Interface more user friendly with optimized web performance -

Scenario: First time user is required to fill address fields - Name, Last name, Street Address, City/Town, State, Zip Code. These are standard text-field entries and often displayed as a standard form over a web page. As information architect, I wanted to change this form little bit and I positioned the Zip code text field first so that the moment user types-in the zip code, City/Town and State fields are filled automatically without having to have the user type them again. This is one example of how Information Architecture helps User Experience.

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