Information Architecture & Visual Design

Finding is the new doing. This is a concept that has slowly but surely grown in popularity. It is often that we see deployments of state-of-the-art technologies fail because they did not start with a solid foundation in Information Architecture and taxonomy planning. It gives the popular saying, “In the weeds!” a whole new meaning when you spend thousands of dollars and man hours on a project that fails in its user adoption. In order for users to be able to find information that they can reuse for their own purposes, they have to be able to be presented with a clear, usable interface and taxonomy that will quickly get them where they need to be. This can only be achieved with proper planning and team members that specialize in information architecture that can help your team develop navigational structures, meta data organization, search enhancements and optimization, site maps, and other key elements of good Information Architecture.

key resources

Information Architect (IA)
Your team should take great care to hire, as part of their team, an exceptionally skilled Information Architect during the Discovery, Definition, and Design project phases.  The IA will take care to hold sessions with end-users that will discover the culture of the company and how they best relate to the technology that you are trying to deploy. Involving the end-users from early on the project’s lifecycle is known as “User Centric Design” which slightly changes the way we would normally use any Agile or Waterfall type of project management methodology. The IA is the person that makes those connections and establishes those relationships. Bringing in their experience from previous projects and finding a successful marriage between what was done before and what will work best for your end users.  End-users will be engaged in one-on-one interviews as well as group assessment sessions to arrive at navigational elements, site maps, search factors, and meta data structures that work for them best. All of this will be documented and presented as a deliverable to the design and development teams.

Visual Designer (VD)
The visual designer and user experience specialist will be in charge of all the aesthetics of the project. Ensuring that the client brand is appropriately adopted for the project’s requirements. They will meet with the marketing associates and end users to deliver a design concepts board (usually in PowerPoint format) as well as obtain a Creative Brief and modify it to fit the project’s needs — including logo usage and color usage — in the Discovery phase of the project. These must be approved before moving forward with actual design compilation that will be delivered in full color (as JPG or PNG files) or a formal style guide is created.  Once approvals are obtained, the designer will use graphical programs to arrive a design compilations that suit the technology that you are trying to deploy as well a detailed style guide that shows how the brand elements are incorporated into the design.

It is common to have one person that services as both the IA and VD.

key deliverables

  • [DISCOVERY] Design Concepts Board (DC)
  • [DISCOVERY] Creative Brief (CB)
  • [DISCOVERY] Information Architecture Requirements (IAR)
  • [DEFINITION] Site Map
  • [DEFINITION] Design Compilations in Full Color
  • [DEFINITION] Style Guide (SG)
  • [DEFINITION] Meta Data and Content Types Map
  • [DESIGN] Information Architecture Design (IAD)
  • [DESIGN] Graphical Elements Creation
  • [DESIGN] User Interface Design (UI)
  • [DEVELOPMENT] Information Architecture Implementation
  • [DEVELOPMENT] Master Pages/Content Types/Page Layouts/Front End Development
  • [DEVELOPMENT] User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
  • [DEPLOYMENT] User Acceptance Testing Signoff (UAT)
  • [DEPLOYMENT] IA and VD Final Signoff
  • [DEPLOYMENT] End-User Training