Information architecture is the process of structuring information on your website, or app in a way that helps your users flow to the information they are seeking as quickly, and efficiently as possible. Properly structuring your information architecture can have a massive impact on usability, user retention, engagement, and if executed poorly, users can’t find the info they are looking for quick enough, and you run the risk of losing them to your competitors.
If you want to ensure that your users have the best experience possible when interacting with your website or application, this article will show you how information architecture can lead to business growth if planned and executed properly.
The primary way that proper information architecture influences business growth is by providing your website visitors or app users with a better user experience by helping them get to the information they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
One of the best ways to improve the information architecture is to let your users tell you how to structure your content and navigation in a way that makes it easier for them to get to what they are looking for with minimal friction, and getting them closer to the purchasing decision, or other conversion goal you have set.
The easiest way to accomplish this is through an exercise called card sorting.
“Card sorting is a method used to help design or evaluate the information architecture of a site. In a card sorting session, participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them and they may also help you label these groups. To conduct a card sort, you can use actual cards, pieces of paper, or one of several online card-sorting software tools.”
Source – Usability.gov
Key Takeaway: Utilize card sorting & user feedback to build an effective information architecture
A well planned information architecture can help your users navigate your site much faster to get to the info they are looking for as quickly as possible. One of the key aspects of a great IA, is a navigation menu centered around your users, and what they are looking for.
If you gathered enough data from your card sorts, you should be able to perform a cluster analysis to see what navigation items your users expect to find when they are searching to perform a certain task on your site to reach the information they seek.
You can then take that data and create a site architecture that you can then retest with your users using a reverse sort to verify that the architecture you built from your cluster analysis is indeed in line with your users.
Of course, you might want to iterate on the nav based on what feedback you got from your reverse sort until you get an optimal feedback rate.
Key Takeaway: Design and effective navigation to ensure better user experience.
IA is not only about the top nav. It’s also about structuring the navigation and filtering within pages in a way so users flow through your site smoothly with minimal friction and digesting the content efficiently.
A great example of how a website can increase the pages per visit with a better information architecture is through the use of displaying related content. For Example, if it’s an eCommerce store, you might want to display related products or promos to help the user quickly find items that pair, or go with the original item.
The longer your visitors are shopping on your site, the more items they can purchase, thus leading to growth within your business.
Key Takeaway: Increase pages per visit by including related & relevant content linked to other pages within your site.
Another benefit of proper information architecture is making your content easier to digest for your users.
You don’t want users to get overwhelmed with your content, but rather you want to make it easy and even enjoyable for them to comprehend your content with minimal effort. Try breaking large paragraphs of text up with more whitespace between content so its easier to read and doesn’t look so jumbled.
This information architecture principle also applies to forms such as contact forms, quote forms, etc. If you have long forms, try breaking them up into multiple pages, with a next button and a submit button at the end. This should make things smoother and less overwhelming for your users.
Key Takeaway: Structure & display your content so users can digest it easier. Break long text and content sections into chunks for easier readability.