So, a lot of people often use the words information architecture to mean the menus on a website, and yeah, that's part of it, but it's much more than that. Information Architecture is another one of those things that's, you got a lot of people saying a lot of different things, but if you drill it down to the absolute basics, it is the set of tools and techniques that we use to organize information. And information architecture is actually a term that we use in a lot of other industries, too, right? So we have to define what it means in a UX context, which is organizing information in a way that people understand it, that lines up with their ideas of how it should be organized. Why is this important? Well, information needs to be organized, right? If it's not, you get something like this, or you get something like this. (laughs) Right? Or my personal favorite, you'll get something like this. And the content's there, right? You can find it, I guess. But it's not organized. I think that's...
a search bar up there. (laughs) yeah. So you know, information needs to be organized. Also, because you know, these days, especially everyone who's using apps has, this isn't like 10, 15 years ago, right, where you could get away with that design, like mobile apps are really good now, and so people, even if they don't, even if they can't put words to it, they can tell when something's good or when something's off. So if the information is badly organized, people will just go somewhere else, 'cause they don't have time. This is usually something you do after you're done with some of the research and planning, and maybe the strategy of the content, and it's especially important for sites with a lot of content. But every site has an information architecture, but it's really important for big sites with lots of kind of like, I don't know, airlines, IBM, travel sites, something like that. The big problem that we have is that everyone organizes information differently in their heads, right? Most basic example that I could think of is I recently got into cooking, right? So I went to Amazon like a good millennial and just ordered a bunch of spices. Okay, great, how do I organize these spices at my house, right? I mean I could organize them by size, right, like from small to large. I could organize them by the color of their caps, right, we have red caps, black caps. I could organize them by the color of the label, right? Yeah, I got some green labels here, some yellow labels there, some black labels there. And can you really say that any of these ways of organizing is better than the other? Not really, it's just how some, how I think about organizing it, right? There's no like right or wrong way of doing it. So, I have to get technical for a minute here. The practice of classification is called taxonomy, and it's something that we've taken from biology, right? We're like classifying like, okay, the crocodiles belong to this, and that belongs to this, and like you organize species in different categories, and we've taken that principle and applied it to organizing websites, right? So these pages are part of this section, these are part of this section and sort of related to each other. So, if everybody organizes information differently, how do we get to a consensus? One of the most popular techniques in information architecture that you use is you, you take each page that's on the site, you write it out on an index card, right? And then you organize the index cards, you see if and give them categories that you can fit them under, right? And you ask people to organize it and see how they think about it and find out their rationale. So this process of writing each item on a card and then sorting them is called card sorting, right? And it's one of the primary activities you'll undertake in information architecture in a UX context. But there are others, right? In order to even do an effective card sort, first you have to do an inventory of the content, right? Like, what's even there, how much of it is there, where is it right now? So then you do your audit to see how much of this is useful, how much of it can we toss out before we even do a card sort. And then a lot of times you'll, you know, how can we group it? 'cause you can group it on your own. Card sorting is something that you do with people, right? With your users, but as you go through this on your own, you'll already develop hypotheses for how you can group it, and then you validate it with people in a card sort. Some of the key questions that you ask is, what is the flow of users through our site? How does it help people understand where they are and where they need to go, right? How does it help them reach their goals? Is it helping them drive their decisions? So, the takeaway here is that every site has an, information is always, there's always a structure and an architecture to it, but if you go about it deliberately, you will have a better time.