An Information Architecture Evaluation Framework for Websites

Author

Abstract

Nowadays the volume of information is exponentially increasing, and users have many options to access the information they need. Thus, the dissemination of information on the web needs to be done more carefully and based on specific principles. If organizations want to satisfy their websites’ users, they have to understand the needs and behaviors of users, and have a clear understanding of their business goals and the type of content they intend to present on the web. To this end, information elements must be properly organized and labeled so that they can be easily accessible and understandable by users. Such challenges are the subject of information architecture as a field of practice and research.
The role of information architecture in the applicability of information environments on the one hand and the organizations’ and businesses’ needs to create information platforms for purposeful and productive interaction with their audiences and users and to serve them on the other hand, highlight the importance of applying the information architecture principles in organizations. In this regard, we first introduce and explain the different components of the information architecture system. Then, we propose a framework for evaluating information architecture for websites as the main platform for interacting with users using library research and expert panel.
The proposed framework considers the information architecture system in a larger space called the information environment. The information environment consists of three components: context, content, and user. The user seeks to exploit the content, and the content generates value for the context of the information environment that represents the organization and its business. On the other hand, the context seeks to improve the content, and the content is also effective in attracting users. By recognizing each of these components and paying attention to their relationships, the needs of the information environment are identified and integrated into the information architecture system. The information architecture system consists of four subsystems namely, organization, labeling, navigation, and search systems that interact and contribute to each other. The organization system defines the information structure and classification in a website. The labeling system describes the information sorted by the organization system with the help of labels. The navigation system helps the user navigate the site and access the content and information they need. The search system refers to the search bar and its features on a web site. To evaluate each of the information architecture subsystems within the proposed framework, a checklist is provided, which is obtained by consensus of experts. Finally, the assessor can evaluate the information architecture of the website by identifying the components of the information environment and using these checklists.

Keywords


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