The Value of Information Architecture

Written by - 03/06/2016

First off, it’s probably best if I clarify what Information Architecture (I.A.) is. Put simply, it’s the blueprint for your new website, where we create the layout and hierarchy for all pages and features that are required for the site to work.

Why do we do this?

Imagine building an extension for your house, you wouldn’t just start by laying the foundations and putting some bricks down. You start by working alongside an architect and planning agency to draw up plans, so you know what you can and can’t do whilst managing this within you allocated budget.

This is essentially what we are doing for your site, before we even consider design we need to know which features are needed, what pages make up your site and where how they’ll all fit together. Once we have all this information, we can then start by putting some structure and hierarchy in place, which gives the site its purpose and you as a client can see how all your requirements will work and where they will be used across the site.

Essentially we are creating a low fidelity version of your site and you’re presented with a working wireframe, where you can interact and see how menus, checkouts and account areas will all work, without worrying about design considerations.

Why don’t you do this during the design?

It’s same reason you don’t go straight into building your extension, there are always restrictions that may effect something. This might be due to your budget, you may no longer want a certain page or feature, or you my find that you want a new requirement such as a news or blog area.

An I.A. allows changes to be made quickly as we’re not considering design changes at the same time, as the layout is just made up of grey boxes and simple text everything is nice and simple to change. If design was involved we would then have to consider the colour, fonts, button styles, imagery etc, all of which would add additional time and cost.

Does this cost more money?

The short answer no. Yes, it will inevitably add cost to your quote, but by doing an I.A. you as the client will have a much clearer idea of how all the features you specified will work, experience the key journeys across the site and have an idea of the amount of content you need provide, so you’re not doing more work than you need to.

Once we have your sign-off on the I.A. we can then begin the design knowing we don’t have to worry about the functionality and any amends at this stage will be focused on the design. Our experience tells us that this process is much more efficient, as we avoid multiple rounds of amends. If we were considering layout, functionality and design all at once, we can tell you this always takes longer. Whereas the I.A. approach allows changes to be kept to a minimum, ultimately meaning your project gets delivered on time and budget and you end up as a happy client.