The Goal of Information Architecture
The goal of Information Architecture (or IA) is to organize things in a way that’s easy to understand for a specific audience.
What is Information Architecture?
Although Information Architecture is a modern term, it’s been around as long as people have been trying to communicate.
Think about the links you use to navigate through a large website, the table of contents in your favorite “how to” book, the wayfinding signs in the shopping mall, or the catalog system in your local library. That’s IA.
At it’s core, Information Architecture is about making sense of all the information in our life, separating the signal from the noise.
What is Information?
So what is “information?” Information is not “fact” – it’s interpretation.
It’s whatever informs you about something, regardless of whether that information is true or false, whether you agree or disagree, and regardless whether it’s what the communicator meant to communicate.
Information is subjective.
Where’s the Value for My Business?
When should you invest in an Information Architecture process?
Whenever you need a message to ring clear and evoke a specific response. And especially when it’s crowded.
As a business, you have things to share: your upcoming sale, a press release, how you’re different than your competitors, etc. Basically, you’re hoping to give prospects facts they need or want in a way that grabs their attention, in a way that’s easy for them to understand, process, and take the next step.
Ironically, living in the information age can be a problem, because one of the byproducts is that we’re inundated with messages. These messages can be confusing, conflicting, irrelevant, overwhelming, insufficient, etc. This creates complexity, it buries you and your messaging, and it buries what your prospects want to know from you within your own messaging.
So if your business is going to be successful, Information Architecture is something you should invest in at some point and a some level. Especially if you want to supply your target audience with the right messaging, when they want it.
Real Benefits to Your Business
You’ve got to communicate in a way that your audience is ready to handle. Your message has got to be palatable. Ask yourself, “does my website resonate with prospects and customers, or is it mostly resonating with me?”
If you’re building an app, does it matter that it makes sense to you if it doesn’t make sense to your users? These are questions that Information Architecture seeks to address, and this can translate to greater efficiency in crafting websites, apps, or your next annual report.
Get to Know Your Business
If this sounds subjective, it’s because it is. As a business, it’s important to heed the maxim, “know thyself.” But how you communicate facts about who you are, what you do, and why someone should do business with you, inform your audience about you in way that’s filtered by their personal opinions and preferences. The best salespeople understand this well.
A huge benefit of investing in Information Architecture is that it forces you to think about who you’re talking to, where they’re coming from, and what they desire.
How people perceive your business is the name of the game.
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