Why Is Information Architecture So Important?
August 8, 2018
What is Information Architecture and why even do it? Isn't it a waste a time? Can't you just start building a website and figure it out as you go?
In short, Information Architecture is a critical step in website development and is key to producing an effective website in the most efficient manner possible.
At New Media Design, we build complex, custom-built websites, web applications and eCommerce systems. To do so effectively and efficiently, we first need a plan. Just like an architect draws up blueprints for a house that is going to be built, we need a clear, detailed plan regarding what you want your website to do, how it will be managed, how it looks and feels, and what technologies drive it all.
The pre-production phase that comes before the actual programming and building of your website is generally referred to as the Information Architecture or “IA” phase. During this phase, we will speak to you and possibly your customers / clients to determine your exact needs. We will then present you with a document which provides descriptions and details of all the modules we will build to achieve your goals. This document typically also includes project costs along with pricing for optional components, as well as a preliminary schedule.
Because this information architecture phase is time consuming and because it is critical to the success of your website, our time working on the IA for your project is billable on a consulting basis. We will always provide you with a fixed budget for the information architecture phase prior to doing this work. We will also when possible provide a rough estimated cost range for your project before we begin the IA phase so you'll have a ballpark idea if it fits within your budget before any work is done.
Unless you bring us a very detailed and thoughtful design plan, it is crucial not to skip this information architecture phase. On a project of even modest complexity, it is a phase that needs to be done. Skipping it eventually results in the same IA work being done later in the process and the result is almost always additional time and money wasted. This is because unless you see the "big picture" you won't know how the different parts of the site will fit into one cohesive whole.
Just like you wouldn’t start building a house without blueprints, you need to have a clear, detailed design plan before you build a website!