Information Architecture

In the context of web site design, information architecture describes the overall conceptual models and general designs used to plan, structure, and assemble a site. Every web site has an information architecture, but information architecture techniques are particularly important to large, complex web sites, where the primary aims are to:

  • Organize the site content into taxonomies and hierarchies of information;
  • Communicate conceptual overviews and the overall site organization to the design team and clients;
  • Research and design the core site navigation concepts;
  • Set standards and specifications for the handling of html semantic markup, and the format and handling of text content; and
  • Design and implement search optimization standards and strategies.

There are five basic steps in organizing your information:

  • Inventory your content: What do you have already? What do you need?
  • Establish a hierarchical outline of your content and create a controlled vocabulary so the major content, site structure, and navigation elements are always identified consistently;
  • Chunking: Divide your content into logical units with a consistent modular structure;
  • Draw diagrams that show the site structure and rough outlines of pages with a list of core navigation links; and
  • Analyze your system by testing the organization interactively with real users; revise as needed.

Choosing the right site structure for your site depends greatly on your audience and the content being presented.


Many of the activities above can be achieved using card sorting and whiteboards.

Web Style Guide: Information Architecture

Understanding Information Architecture

Information Architecture 101: Techniques and Best Practices

Jessie James Garrett’s IA resource page

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web
Designing Large-Scale Web Sites
By Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfeld