The world of web design can be as complicated as rocket science but there are people who are having an easy breezy time with it. While you are struggling to survive the online world, people out there are taking advantage of Information Architecture to have an easier time. Information architecture may sound fancy but it actually consists of simple concepts. Although the definitions are quite long and hard, the point of this article is to make it more understandable and comprehensive.
Information architecture defined
In order to have a better grasp of what information architecture is, you should at least have an idea of what an information architecture does. This term may sometimes be confused for having different definitions since the description could vary from different contexts. To be more specific, we should start by focusing mainly on web design.
In the world of web design, the basic idea is to think of the best strategy for your readers and audience to immediately find what they are trying to look for. You may think that this is an effortless task but some web designers actually miss this. The same problem applies for both big agencies and companies. In other words, no one is exempted.
To start off, an information architect must have an ample knowledge about websites and how websites work. They are responsible for making gluing everything in place. This includes the entire layout and design of the website, anti-plagiarism checks, SEO, Internet marketing strategy, and everything that will affect the entire performance of the website. In other words, the role of an information architect is not as simple as having someone to make your sitemap charts, but their role is more essential than that.
In a more general and broader perspective, information architects are somewhat similar to project managers with a special skill in web designing. Information architects should be meticulous in every aspect. They consider every factor that could affect the performance of the website – may it be for choosing the best language for coding to the copywriting and certain ACTs to a certain page. They make all the clarifications and explanations as to why or why not this should be done in every decisions to be made and implemented on your website page. They provide all the answers to your whys. Why do you need to place the search box at the top right or the top left corner? Why do you need to put a slider in your web page? Why is it important to set up an ‘About Us’ section in your website? How will the content of your website be deemed important for them? These questions will be answered and should be answered by information architects. This is the basic reason of their existence. They should specify and answer what you website’s goals are. Once the information architect answered all these questions, you can now work on what is the most appropriate strategy to use.
Since the web wide world is a world filled of surprises, most of the time, information architects are always taking care of different situations which is the reason that it is difficult for them to teach other people. Most of the time, you will be fed up with “It depends upon the situation” as an answer. Nevertheless, even though it is hard to learn the responsibilities of information architects, it is never impossible to learn these things in school or online if you are really interested.
However, even though that they take care of a lot of website matters, it does not mean that everyone who owns a website needs to hire a professional information architect. For most websites who do not have too many contents can skip the process of looking for an information architect. Yet, as a web owner, web designer, and web developer, you can also play take care of information architecture yourself. The possibility of doing multiple roles in maintaining your website is a must. The importance of keeping track of your information architecture is incalculable. Therefore, if you are not yet ready to take over this role, then you should consider making a website.
On the other hand, if you are ready to take on the responsibilities mentioned above, then, by all means, go ahead and make your own website. So let us move forward with discovering how we can improve your information architecture tactics specifically for WordPress.
WordPress Information Architecture Tools and How to Use Them
There are a lot of tools built in WordPress’ Content Management System (CMS) that everyone can utilize in order to make a good information architecture plan. On the process of making your plans, you as the information architect (or at least just acting the role of an information architect) should let everyone know about the existence of such plugins. They are invented mainly because WordPress CMS expects the users to be using information architecture while planning and designing the website.
If you are not aware of such tools and plugins, there is definitely a need for you to do a lot of reading and researching in order to familiarize yourself with useful tools that you will be seeing and using every now and then.
Categories and tags
Categories and tags are designed to help the user organize his or her blog based on a more general topic. These topics should be divided to specifically more channels. The first and broadest channel is known to be the ‘Categories’. Categories are considered to be pre-defined. This means that you have to establish your categories first before trying to put in any content on your page. For some people, adding different categories every now and then signifies a lack of focus. This may negatively affect your readers and viewers. But adding a new category once in a while may seem to become a good technique in updating your page.
Another channel deemed important is called tags. Basically, tags are specific words that are used in tagging a WordPress blog post. Tags are also popular on Tumblr and most especially on Instagram. In deciding for a tag, you should bear in mind that this tag should be sparse and specific. They should synchronize with the content – your topic, as well as your categories. Most of the time, keywords serve as the best tag in your content. Therefore, if you are having a ton of tags in your page, you are doing it wrong.
Custom Post Formats
Although they are built in the WordPress system, custom post formats are somewhat hidden. In order to activate these custom post formats, you will be needing a lot of dash codes. If you have successfully worked on this, you will find it easier to organize your blog in this manner. Although take note that taxonomies and custom post formats may look like they have the same job description but they should not be confused with each other. Custom Post formats are best for websites that contains different types of content like images and videos.
Custom Post Types
This may include a little bit of coding in order for you readily use this plugin. If you want to organize information that are and should be separated from your main posts and pages, then you should use custom post types. In a situation where you want to separate your portfolio items, custom post types will definitely organize the back end for you.
Again, say hello to coding. This feature should be encoded into WordPress to be able to experience how it functions. This will help you organize the data being entered consistently. For example, if you are planning to create a blog on how to prepare a certain dish, you will need the necessary information like ‘Preparation time’, ‘Cooking Time’, or ‘Ingredients’. For the second time that you have to create another blog with the same style, you can set up the above-mentioned information as the custom fields.
Custom menus allow you to place different links in various parts of your website. In this way, organizing will be easier since users will be able to find more information about a certain subject in the provided links. Custom menus will also allow you to put related link in just about anywhere you wish to. Just make sure that the links are importantly related to the content of your blog or website, and are useful to your readers and viewers.
WordPress is so rich with useful, interesting and awesome widgets. Some of the widgets are easily downloadable online and some are readily built-in in WordPress themes. However, widgets should not only stay at the side line or more literally speaking, the sidebars. You can use widgets any are of your web site by coding it to your WordPress template.
Although this tool is not necessarily used all the time, this will still be helpful to make navigation and CTAs. Although there are other people who would rather not use sidebars because it may disrupt or distract the readers and visitors from fully understanding the message that you are trying to deliver to them.
The search function for WordPress is basically a basic feature and is not considered to be that special. In a more general sense, Search will provide another option for your readers and viewers to find what they are looking for. This will be really helpful especially to those blogs and websites that are heavy in content. Looking for the specific topic in the Search box will surely conserve your readers more time.
Another important information architecture tool in WordPress is the Author pages. This will provide a page solely dedicated to the authors and contributors of the website. This will help your viewers and readers to easily search articles based on the name of the writer. Although authorship as an SEO tactic has been removed in google analytics, this is still one of the most valued features because you can use it to market and promote your personal social media profile which will surely improve your visibility.
Read more link text
Familiar with the famous idiomatic “Less is more”. Instead of showing the entire article to your readers and viewers, only a portion of the article is shown and a link is provided if they decide to read more. If you use this feature, this help you save space on your page. It sounds like a little thing but this will do wonders for your information architecture.
Again, the availability of such WordPress features needs activation in order to be able to use them. If you have numerous sections in your website, WordPress multisite will be of great help to you. If you need to manage your mini websites in your larger website network, WordPress Multisite will definitely be of great service.
WordPress in itself is already good enough to make a good website. However, if you exploit different tools and plugins, you could definitely have a better-performing website. Plugins will make sure that you will get the extra features that you need in every scenario. Although it is given that there are indeed a huge number of available plugins, this does not mean that you will go around downloading every plugin that you heard of. Remember to only download those that are needed and those that will surely be used in your website.
However, not because information architecture involves a lot of tools to work with, it does not mean that that is all there is for it. It is hard to specifically define the job description of an information architect since he or she covers many broad and specific aspects in web designing and web developing. If you are opting to become an expert in this field, you would have to research, read, and study a lot. In addition, you also have to have the patience in modifying certain aspects of the website over and over again until you get the desired outcome or reach your goal.
I hope you were able to make a mental map or picture on how information architecture works.