What Is Information Architecture in UX Design?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what information architecture is and how UX designers use it. Learn the value of this tool for businesses and users, and find tips for creating an effective information architecture document.

[Featured Image] A UX designer works on their laptop in an office to find the best information architecture for his company's mobile app.

In user experience (UX) design, information architecture (IA) refers to the practice of organizing and structuring digital information in an effective way to assist users. For example, the way a menu on a webpage is categorized and laid out all uses information architecture. Well-thought-out IA can make navigating websites, using software, or internet shopping easy and enjoyable.

How is IA used in UX design?

Digital products depend on well-designed information architecture. When a UX designer creates a digital product, information architecture acts as a sort of blueprint that helps make the product more accessible and understandable to users.

Want to sharpen your information architecture skills with an industry leader in technology? Enroll in Microsoft's UX Design Professional Certificate program:

The value of information architecture

Successful information architecture provides value for both users and businesses. 

  • IA value for users: When users can access a digital product like a website, app, or software quickly and navigate through it easily, they are more likely to stay with the product or come back to it in the future.

  • IA value for businesses: When users have a pleasant experience using a digital product, companies make money, gain trust, and build their reputation Users have a greater tendency to stay and search for information, buy online products, purchase software, or sign up for newsletters.

Tips for improving your IA

Creating an effective information architecture starts with using a design document to lay the foundation of your site. It also takes a good deal of forethought. A few pre-design processes can help designers:

  • Define goals: Consider what you want your efficient IA to achieve and how it will help the company (e.g., attract more website users, increase profits, etc.).

  • Analyze competitors: Look at competitors with similar products to assess what they’re doing that does and doesn’t work for them.

  • Survey content: Decide what content to keep in a digital product and what to dispose of.

Key information architecture elements for UX designers

Well-designed information architecture contains four key elements that benefit businesses and their users. According to Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld, these include:

1. Organization: How UX designers group and structure information

2. Labeling: How UX designers label groups of information to make it understandable to users

3. Navigation: How well users navigate a digital product

4. Search processes: How well users can search for and find the information they need

Learn more about UX design on Coursera

Discover more about UX design by completing the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. This seven-course series provides a foundation in UX design concepts and the UX design process. Learn how to create storyboards, wireframes, and prototypes; explore methods of UX research and testing; and work on three UX design projects to add to a professional portfolio. When you finish the series, you'll receive a shareable certificate.

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