Information architecture: where to start?

The name alone makes you feel important: information architecture.

Let it flow in your mind and reflect on the possibilities of this great system of logical organization that allows you to enter the mentality of effective, clear and direct communication.

What is Information Architecture?

Don't let the technical name scare you: information architecture is a logical and semantic organization that allows you to get the most out of every word that you choose to use, conveying messages (even complex ones) with the utmost simplicity and clarity.

It may sound easy, but such a concept means everything and nothing. This is why it is important to clarify that information architecture is aimed not only at the web, but in general and more broadly at the concept of user experience.

Organize words and information in an intelligent and practical structure it allows you to create better, more performing and more appreciated contents by the users who read them. Information architecture therefore becomes not only a technical concept linked to the easiest way to explain something, but also a more creative activity, linked to the concept of quality and appealing to tastes of the reader. They seem like two speeches that are closely related to each other, but in reality it is important to have clear the elements that link these two concepts in order to create content that appeals:

  • To the public
  • To the search engine

The principles of information architecture

Before even starting to think about opening a blog and, above all, before even starting to write, carefully consider incorporating into your style the 8 principles of information architecture which the Gods of Content Marketing brought to Earth several centuries ago, and which have remained so for all those who face the Sacred Content.

More seriously, it was Dan Brown – information architect at EightShapes – who developed the 8 concepts you will need to use if you want to embark on this long journey:

  1. items. Content is a living, breathing creature with its own regular life cycle. What does it mean? Simple: once you have given it life, you cannot abandon it. It's your creature: upgrade it, heal it, come back to it and rebuild it should it need some updating.
  2. Choices. When creating content, it is important that the user feels that this can provide him with concrete options, without distracting attention from the main topic.
  3. discovery. Give the user just enough information to inspire them to dig deeper into the topic, without going overboard with detail.
  4. Examples. The content must be demonstrated with clear examples.
  5. The "main doors". Assume that the majority of users will enter your site for the first time through a few specific pages.
  6. Multiple classification. Offer the user a series of ways and possibilities for browsing your site, so that he can reach the content he wants in the way that best suits him.
  7. No overlaps. Don't mix classifications and create confusion in your users.
  8. Growth. Assume that the content you have today is only a small fraction of what you will have tomorrow.

As you can see, content architecture is not just about writing a text, it includes a wider one sense of planning of the texts that affects the entire blog or website.

Let's start with the structure of the article

Let's assume that a good blog begins with writing articles that respect the rules of information architecture and are liked by everyone, from the average man to the advanced algorithm. In short, the question we are asked most often is: how to organize content? The main focus is to create a text that encourages reading and makes it a pleasure.

IThe reader must immediately understand what you are trying to tell him, how you are going to do it and why he will find it useful. The main mechanism is to structure decisive information based on this order:

  1. [TOP] Key information. In the first part of the text you have to make people understand why they should read your article and not someone else's. You have to give him a smattering of the general points you're going to touch on a little later and, above all, you have to give him a taste of that important information that awaits him as he continues reading.
  2. [CONTENT] Conduct. In this part of the article you must provide all the information necessary to demonstrate that your knowledge on the subject is worth the time spent so far.
  3. [GRAND FINALE] Additional information. The conclusion of an article is the right time to let the user know that there is still something you could tell them. For example, this is where you have to enter the details and in-depth insights necessary to make it clear that, if he decides to click on one of your links, he could find even more valuable information!

less is more

Do you think there is something too much in your article? A sentence that shouldn't be there? Information that you have already given in another form? Don't think twice: remove it. The key to information architecture is the creation of streamlined and fluid articles that allow you to enter a rapid mental connection with the user.

Your goal is to minimize any possible misunderstandings with the user, and create a clear and easily usable text. Jakob Nielsen states that during the average visit time on a single web page, the user reads no more than 28% of the words he sees: perhaps even 20%. So ask yourself what is the cognitive effort required by users to understand what you have written, and what can actually be deduced from your text when you "read it sideways", trying to understand the logical sense of the text.

The bold ones

To facilitate this task, the bold, great friends of those who don't like to read everything word for word. Use them wisely and the Gods of Content Marketing will be pleased with your humble work.

The division of the text

Did we say 20% of the text? Bold may help us give a basic trace of the user's reading, but the division into paragraphs (with titles and subtitles) helps us to divide the text even better, making it easier to read for maximum enjoyment.

Content architecture: technical aspects

As already mentioned, writing is not enough. When you decide to open a blog, you need to pay attention to taxonomies and metadata.

  1. Taxonomies. We are talking about the categorizations and tag. Each article must be labeled with the right keywords that allow the user to find it by entering a few, simple information in the search box. Watch out for overlapping and similar tags (eg: beauty, beauty). Pick one and always stick to it.
  2. Metadata. Here we are referring to title tags, meta descriptions, and H1 tag, or the technical information that Google likes so much and that helps your text perform better on search engines.

The drafting of contents that respect the information architecture is a transversal discipline that crosses the entire technical and creative sector of a professional. What advice would you have to give to an amateur who is entering this strange world for the first time?