Why should you care about your Information Architecture (IA)? A good IA sets the groundwork for a good project, a bad IA causes churn and can overwhelm even a good implementation team. Information Architecture is the process of categorizing and organizing content and data into a structure that makes sense for both programs and people.
IA is one of the components in a larger Solution or Enterprise Architecture, and it enables you to maximize your investment in your Digital Marketing platform by providing clarity and organization to your content and data.
Is IA Just a Content Deliverable?
Many teams silo off IA into the content or strategy corner. Ignoring IA's effects on the larger implementation is a mistake. A good Information Architecture requires feedback from Product Owners, Technical Teams, Digital Marketing Teams and Business Stakeholders. Each of these teams will bring a different perspective; distilling these perspectives and the existing content into a consolidated and refined Information Architecture is the key activity during an IA process.
So how does IA enable success in your Digital Marketing implementation?
1. IA Ensures Consistent Voice and Message
The success of an implementation does not solely rely on the technical deliverables or even launching the platform. Digital Marketing platform's success hinges on the customer experience it delivers.
Shortcutting IA makes it near impossible to deliver a consistent voice and message to your customers. We all know those sites where it's painfully obvious as you navigate the site that different sections of the site are managed by different groups. A good IA will help drive consistency of voice and message throughout the experience.
2. Reduce Duplication, Redundancy and Repetition
Especially for large websites, it is very difficult to ensure the you are not duplicating content. Duplicate content has significant cost to maintain and causes confusion to users and search engines. Companies face an unfortunate choice of either having duplicate content on multiple pages or having a confusing navigation where users switch sections because content is available in multiple areas.
One of the main tasks within an Information Architecture design is to ensure that the content structure supports the content needs with minimal duplication.
By optimizing the taxonomy within the Information Architecture, we can reduce the effort required to maintain duplicate content and optimize the visitors experience by offering a predictable and logical content structure.
3. Supports Insights and Measurement
For those of us parents out there, measuring the effectiveness of content without a proper Information Architecture is like measuring a toddler. It's possible, but it's really hard and frankly you never really know if it's right.
There are so many ways that content can be organized and there are so many ways to report on content; without a proper Information Architecture it is difficult to determine what content belongs in what reports. Your analytics team will thank you for creating an Information Architecture ahead of time as this information and organization allows for analyst to break down content reports and a very granular level.
For a concrete example, imagine you were working for a hospital and trying to determine what pages related to heart conditions are being viewed by users. This could include patient pages related to the hospital's treatment, medical conditions, doctors who perform heart procedures, articles related to heart conditions or any other numbers of pieces of content. A proper Information Architecture ensures not only are these items organized for users to find but that they are placed in a taxonomy which allows for granular reporting and segmentation.
Where IA Fits in Your Project
Information Architecture is one of the foundational pieces of any digital marketing project. As such, it should be a topic of your initial Discovery workshops. As you work to define the user experience business requirements and technology strategy, you should also work to define your Information Architecture.
Knowing how to sequence a digital marketing program is no easy feat. I hope this post helps you understand the value of Information Architecture within your digital marketing program. If you are interested in learning more about structured approaches to digital marketing programs, I hope you'll join me for my From Words to Web: The Complete AEM Content Lifecycle presentation at the Worldwide Adobe Experience Cloud Developer Community Meetup in New York, where I will discuss the full process of getting content live on the Adobe Experience Cloud platform.