In IA Practice
Summary: Websites are places made of information, and architecting information is harder to do than it seems on the surface. How do information architects do it?

Many people start web projects by talking to web developers (the HTML coders), and put them in charge of leading the project. For small projects, this can work. But for larger projects, that’s a risky approach.

Imagine building an office building by selecting the kind of steel for the girders, then talking to the interior designer about the colors for the walls and the style of furniture, and only then working with an architect to lay out the floor plan. Of course…that’s backwards!

architect looking at plansArchitects lead physical building projects. They clarify the different purposes and uses of the building, and then translate that into a set of plans and blueprints that tells the builders what to build. They do this by understanding how people perceive physical spaces, and how to form building materials into places where people will have the kind of experience intended, be it an office building or a church.

Websites are places made of information. Walls and doors and windows, all the things you use to orient yourself in the physical world, are replaced by words. Menus and lists and headlines and copy—they all work together to let you know what kind of place you’re visiting and guiding you where to go.

Architecting information is harder to do than it seems on the surface. Language is tricky. People use the same word to mean different things, and different words to mean the same thing.

When talking to people, we can use the context of the discussion and dialog to get a clear sense of what is meant. On a website, that’s harder to do, and it’s the role of the information architect to build a sensible, coherent system of language that will ensure your visitors always know where they are and where they need to go.

Before you hand your website project to a development team, make sure you architect the site’s information.

Architect your websites

Over the years, TUG has developed a proven process for translating your digital strategy and objectives into architectural plans for a digital place that will delight your visitors. We’d love to hear about your project and share how we can help.

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