The information architecture applied to web development

The term “Information Architecture” (IA) refers to the classification, identification and structuring of information in informatics. In the development of web pages it plays an especially relevant role, since it refers to the design of structured web pages. For web designers, this means defining the themes and products first and then classifying them into semantic categories. 

These categories are in turn the main components of a hierarchy that makes it easier for users to orient themselves on the web and administrators. A well organized structure and horizontal hierarchies also contribute to a good position in search engines. 

What aspects make up the information architecture and where does the term come from?

What is information architecture? 

History of a discipline

The first testimony of the use of the term “architecture” in relation to information technology takes place in 1959 in the IBM environment, although it is in 1962 when Frederick P. Brooks and Lyle Johnson use it to describe computational architecture in the context of the birth of the supercomputer Stretch (“Planning a Computer System: Project Stretch”). But the term begins to be used after Richard Saul Wurman coined it in 1975 and used it at a conference at the American Institute of Architects in Washington DC in 1976.

The origin of the discipline, however, resides in the librarianship, since the categorization and archiving of information, as well as the organization of its accessibility, are fundamental elements of the information sciences, which also find application in the architecture of the information.

In our linguistic field, professionals take as reference the book “Information architecture in web environments” by Mario Pérez-Montoro Gutiérrez (Trea, 2010). It summarizes the elements that make up this discipline that is not so emerging, the fundamentals of information architecture on web pages are explained and a methodological guide is presented.

Another scientific field that uses similar elements is cognitive psychology, a science that studies how the human brain processes information and what paths it follows in decision making. Applied to the friendly design of a web page, understanding how users mentally synthesize information and how they look for it can be very helpful. According to this knowledge, an effective information architecture divides the page into main and secondary categories and organizes the routes to the subpages in such a way that it is easy for users to reach the information they seek with the least number of steps possible.

Seen as visual art, architecture is what gives the term its symbolism, because what it is, in short, is to provide web pages with a solid foundation that fits the offer and allows it to be used efficiently.

Definition

The information architecture in web environments deals with the structural conception of web pages, applications and databases. The information architects categorize the content into semantic units as intuitively as possible for the user. They also design the page hierarchically so that it is easy to use and find the different data, functions and paths.

Development of information architecture in web environments

The structural design of a web page is a process that runs through several phases and covers different tasks. A good information architecture begins before even the conception of the website itself.

Keyword research and relevance analysis

First of all it is convenient to find out what potential users are looking for. For this, professionals have several keyword search tools with which it is possible to determine the relevance of certain terms for each market niche, as well as to extract other values, such as the absolute search volume and the number of rivals that compete for the same keyword, which also have their importance. The relevance of the keyword to the target audience reflects whether it is the one that should be used on the page.

However, it should be borne in mind that a high search volume, although it promises a lot of traffic, is also linked to an equally high number of competitors, and this implies the need to better optimize the page for the selected keyword in order to Achieve top positions in the search engine. On the other hand, it would also be legitimate in many cases to opt for less competitive terms, such as the so-called long tail keywords, as long as they match the offer.

Once the keyword research is finished and the most relevant ones are selected, the keywords can be grouped into categories based on their importance and their link to the main topic.

Conception of the navigation system and hierarchy

With the groups of topics that have been created from the keyword research on the table, web designers outline a structural hierarchy that starts from the home page and leads to the product or information pages through the different categories and subcategories The horizontal hierarchy has proved the best option in order to facilitate navigation to users and indexing the domain to search engine crawlers.

SOURCE: Digital Guide

One thought on “The information architecture applied to web development

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