How Information Architecture Drives Usability

James YoungDesign Director at SS&C Technologies, Inc

I have had the opportunity to work in both B2C and B2B sectors. No matter the customer base, a universal goal is to offer "intuitive navigation." We achieve this goal through the craft of Information Architecture (IA).

Teams are often eager to jump right into the "look and feel" of the navigation. It's not uncommon to explore UI visual design options early on. However, it's crucial to determine the hierarchical structure and wording of navigation as soon as possible. The maxim of "Form follows function" is very appropriate when it comes to IA.

I found that Sitemap is a powerful tool for articulating the IA of a website or app. It offers a neutral framework for communicating the IA to both stakeholders and customers. Reviewers of the IA can be encouraged to evaluate a Sitemap with an emphasis on wayfinding. They can focus on whether the hierarchy of information and terminology in use aligns with customer expectations. Lastly, I discovered that a well-run Tree Testing program can provide quantitative data regarding findability and task completion. Such data helps stakeholders feel more confident about delivering the ease of use that customers expect.

So the next time someone asks you what navigation style to use, reply: "Good question, let's look at the Sitemap first."

James Young
Design Director at SS&C Technologies, Inc
James is a Design Leader based near Boston, MA. He has been working as a creative problem solver in the technology sector for close to 30 years. He aims to inspire innovation, where business goals align with desired customer outcomes

Has been using FlowMapp since 2017. He uses Sitemaps for various websites and apps IA and content strategy tasks, along with User Flows, to identify and prioritize key workflows and pain points for customers across many initiatives
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