Step 2) Create the information architecture – PART 2

“Gentleman, you had my curiosity. Now you have my attention”, says Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie ‘Django Unchained’.

Drawing parallels – the data just brings in curiosity. The information grabs the attention. What is this all talk about information architecture? What is see is what you get, right? But, what you see is different from what you perceive. Creating information architecture (IA) is a path towards understanding the ‘data’, making sense of the data, the ability to slice & dice the data and make relationships with the data.

Data, in its raw form, e.g. “Today’s temperature is 31 degrees Celsius”, does not really add any value. However, if we impart some additional meaning to the data, e.g. “The daily temperature has risen by 4 degree Celsius over last 2 days”, then it becomes information. Why? Because there is a reference point with the data, there is something preceding/succeeding with the current data and there is a relationship with different data points.

When we stack many data points, we get information. When we stack many deep insights from information, we become ‘knowledgeable’ :).

Let’s go back to our 5 examples discussed in the last post.

1) Things Organized Neatly

Every time I look at this site, it creates a ‘wow’ factor in my mind. Things that seem so nondescript are arranged in a visual form that communicates the shredded ecosystem in tiny parts. My view of this website (what I liked, what makes this website great is depicted below):

Things Organized Neatly

Things Organized Neatly

2) Flipkart

I have been user of this website since 2008. I was one of those Indian buyers who did not trust sharing my credit / debit card information online. Flipkart knew this well and brought in the “cash on delivery” model, which has now become the Indian e-commerce norm. They started with books and now sell almost every lifestyle product. Today, their speedy shipping time marvels many Indian customers, and I am one of them.  Here is how I view Flipkart:

Flipkart

Flipkart

3) Wikipedia’s content on Pune

I am an immigrant to Pune (India), with origins in the pre-Independence industrial town called Kirloskarwadi. I grew up with the internet age and have witnessed web migrate from 0.0 to 1.0 to 2.0 and beyond. Similarly, I have been a resident of Pune for the last 18 years and have seen the city growing by leaps and bounds. I visit Wikipedia often to see the changes in Pune city documented on the site. Wikipedia is a user generated content website – anyone can become author. This is what I view of the Wikipedia’s entry on Pune:

Wikipedia on Pune

Wikipedia on Pune

4) Google Maps

‘Travel’ without the travel – that’s what Google map does :). I feel that Google has superior user experience than Mapquest & Yahoo Maps, the reason it became so popular. It’s the map application that is on top of my mind every time I have to search any location. Being an Android user means it is also the de-facto application to search any location. Here is my view on Google Maps:

Google Maps

Google Maps

5) Southwest.com

I have been a frequent traveler on Southwest for the last 2 years. I think that customer experience is in their DNA – both offline and online. The website’s content, navigation and discoverability of content are positive experiences. “Where should I find this?” questions generally get up answered up on the same page. The following image depicts my view of the ticket-booking journey on Southwest.com:

Southwest

Southwest

 Hope you also have your own sketches / visuals of these websites. As said earlier, sketching will help you – it does not matter whether you designed a mind-map, infographic or anything else.

While drawing, I am sure you must have come across these questions:

  1. Home pages of these websites carry tremendous amount of information. What if the home page is designed in non-intuitive way?
  2. How will the users discover information that is not evident on the surface?
  3. How deep-rooted the navigation should be? Will the user get frustrated at 4-level navigation?
  4. Are login paths clearly visible to the user? Is log-out placed intuitively or is it done in the same way as social networking websites (hidden inside a menu)?
  5. What amount of information can user cope up with? What is that threshold / breaking point?

Answering these questions means getting closer to build the information architecture, the content and page layout.

Let’s look into details about creating the information architecture in our next post.

Now that you got attention (after you got curios), let’s sustain that :).

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