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Why Information Architecture (IA) Framework is Essential for Product Design
Some ideas on how to integrate it in physical object design
Approaches, principles, and methods are abundant in creating go-to-market products.
If you’re designing a website or app interface, you might start by drawing user interface concepts on paper and analyzing them in depth. You would then use these ideas as the foundation for your design decisions. On the other hand, suppose you were creating an application such as a digital toy or game console controller. In that case, it might be helpful to create rough prototypes using actual physical objects to test how users interact with them. Once you have established fundamental design principles and understand how people interacting with your product will feel and look, refining those details is much easier!
Different design principles may be more effective than others based on the application. One approach to design that often works well is to model the user’s possible actions and create a system with features that can efficiently automate those activities. For instance, if users want to find images related to a topic of interest, it might make sense for the AI system to automatically search through relevant Unsplash pages or similar websites based on specific keywords provided by the user.
Where do we begin when creating go-to-market products, especially if they are physical products?
Frameworks for digital/physical products
There are many ways to think about how to apply a framework; one crucial distinction that should be made for your use case is between digital and physical products. For example, when you’re creating an interface hierarchy or user flow diagram, those same processes can be applied just as easily to websites as they can hardware devices.
Some approaches that may come to mind may include (1) UX/UI design; (2) graphic design; (3) industrial design; and (4) package design. Namely:
— UX/UI design: designing how users interact with digital products such as apps and websites
— Graphic design: creating visual content such as logos, illustrations, and typography
— Industrial design: designing physical products such as furniture, appliances, and automobiles
— Interaction design: designing the interaction between users and digital products.
I am not going to address these, especially their interplay between objects that are physical or digital (or both) in nature. There are other ones based on the following applications and approaches: (1) information architecture (IA) framework; (2) Fitt’s law; (3) Hick’s law; and (5) Affordances. In this post, I will briefly describe AI.
Information Architecture (IA) Framework
Using what is known as an Information Architecture (IA) Framework, one can better comprehend the full spectrum of issues and opportunities within a product’s experience.
An information architecture (IA) framework can be used to create and design physical objects, such as website layouts or product packaging. An IA framework aims to help designers organize and structure data within a given context to make it easier for users to locate what they are looking for. In designing physical objects, the first step is often developing a Conceptual Model that maps out the intended user journey and specific object goals.
Once this model has been developed, it can be used as a guide when designing specific pages or components on-screen. For example, a website’s home page may include a section for products featuring pictures and descriptions of each product. The task of arranging these items on-screen would likely be more complicated if the layout wasn’t based on the conceptual model that was established in advance. Similarly, when designing product packaging or any other physical object, it is important to consider what users will see and how they will interact with it.
As an illustration, a user looking at an item from afar might have to maneuver their hands around different sections to get a clear view of all the information present. Considering these factors during design, an IA framework can help create objects that are both easy to understand and use efficiently by recipients. Information architecture can often play a pivotal role in making the design process as smooth and streamlined as possible when it comes to creating physical objects.
In other words, consider (1) developing a conceptual model that maps out the intended user journey and specific goals of the object; (2) taking into account how users will interact with an object by designing for different viewing scenarios (such as from afar or close up); and (3) build for ensuring ease of use by incorporating user feedback into the design process early on.
Some ideas on its integration into object design
There are many benefits to using the information architecture (IA) framework to create and design physical objects. For example, IA can help designers think about how users will interact with an object, what content is most important, where items should be located on a page or screen, and which navigation methods work best.
Furthermore, by following established principles of IA, such as focus grouping and user research experiments, designers can ensure that their designs are usable and accessible, not just meet and exceed user expectations. In addition, good IAs may also help spark creativity within other team members since they’re more likely to come up with new ideas if they have a visual representation of the problem at hand.
Regarding better navigation, by clarifying where content and functionality will be found on a page or screen, IA gives designers the necessary foundation to create effective navigation paths. The opportunity here is to help users quickly find what they’re looking for, making visits to your site more efficient overall.
Regarding enhanced visibility of crucial content, using practical visual hierarchy principles, user interfaces that are well-organized and easy to browse often result in increased visibility of key information, such as search results. Additionally, and importantly, a clear layout makes it easier for users to interact with your design features by scanning through pages (in the case of a website) rather than flicking through lengthy lists of items.
Regarding enhanced efficiency, by following established IA principles, designers can often streamline and simplify the user interface (UI) for their site or app. This outcome can result in significant gains in terms of page load time, overall organization, visual clarity, and clarity of purpose.
Concerning increased appeal to receiving near real-time user feedback, failure to take into account user experience may lead certain audiences not to explore your site or purchase products therein due to privacy concerns (for example). Using an effective IA will help you target these groups more accurately while avoiding any potential conflict or inconvenience caused by a range of deficiencies, not only matters impacting usability and accessibility. Additionally, incorporating various feedback loops within a design allows you to gauge visitor behavior as it occurs, giving you valuable context for further refinements.
If you have any recommendations for this post or suggestions for broadening the subject, I would appreciate hearing from you.
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