Information Architecture Step by Step
Whether you are planning a new website with new content or reworking an existing website with a boatload of existing content, the project should be framed by business goals. Users, content, and context lie within the frame of the business.
Donna Spencer's book, A Practical Guide to Information Architecture, breaks the Information Architecture process into four main parts. If we include an element for business goals at the beginning of her list, a five step process emerges:
1. Understand the Business ContextMeet with stakeholders to reveal business goals. Ask lots of questions, conduct individual and group interviews and ensure all stakeholders are heard.
2. Understand Users and their ContextObserve users and conduct interviews to reveal user needs, goals, and behaviors.
Communicating insights gained from user research and revealing user goals, needs, and behaviors may challenge the assumptions of the stakeholders and potentially shift the business goals of the project. Stay flexible and be ready to pivot on the project.
3. Understand the Content based on User Needs
4. Design the IA and Test
5. Design the Navigation
For a successful Information Architecture, follow or adapt a process that includes regular tests with users and meaningful communication with stakeholders at every step in the process.