What is Information Architecture?

Information architecture is the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.

If you’ve ever tried to use something and thought, “where am I supposed to go next?” or “this doesn’t make any sense,” you are encountering an issue with an information architecture.

Information Architectures Are All Around Us

Information architectures (IAs) are in the websites we use, the apps and software we download, the printed materials we encounter, and even the physical places we spend time in. 

A good IA helps people to understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for – in the real world as well as online. Practicing information architecture involves facilitating the people and organizations we work with to consider their structures and language thoughtfully.

We like to say that if you’re making things for others, you’re practicing information architecture.

Information Architecture Forms A Foundation for User Experience Design

Many people are curious how IA is related to user experience (UX) design. UX designers practice IA everyday; the two are closely connected. Put simply, IA is an important skill within UX and other disciplines, such as content strategy, technical writing, library science and interaction design. 

Our mission at the Information Architecture Institute is to get the word out about this important practice, so more people have the words for this work and can therefore better educate themselves and others on it. 

Books About Information Architecture

IA for the Web and Beyond

Better known in the IA field as the polar bear book, this is the essential read for anyone looking to understand the principles and concepts involved in IA practice.

Intertwingled

Is you want to understand the mindset needed to think about information architecture work, this book is for you. This is a great read for those who want to understand the value of IA.

Mental Models

Before you can make any determinations about IA, you have to understand how your users think. This book gives practical research tools to get to that kind of insight.

How to Make Sense of Any Mess

Whether at work, at school, or in our personal endeavors, there’s a deepening (and inescapable) need for people to make sense of information. This simple book is a guide to sensemaking and information architecture basics.

Pervasive Information Architecture

As physical and digital interactions intertwine, new challenges have been introduced to practicing information architecture. This book takes readers on a tour of these changes and introduces ways forward.

Understanding Context

To make sense of the world, we’re always trying to place things in context. This book is an introduction to the importance of considering context when practicing information architecture.