How Do You Become an Information Architect?
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Interested in becoming an information architect? Springboard can help! Explore everything you need to know about becoming an information architect in this guide.
As an information science, information architecture (IA) is the science of organizing the structure of websites, mobile apps, and software. The ultimate goal is to allow users to quickly find everything they might be looking for on any device without overt effort. Think about the design of Google’s products—their information architecture makes using their products a breeze.
If you aren’t familiar with a specific program or tool, finding what you’re looking for is relatively intuitive. If you have trouble, Google offers well-formatted and thorough support pages.
Information architect Peter Morville explains the fundamental purpose of IA is to help users to understand where they are, what they’ve found there, what’s around, and what to expect. Information architecture requires information architects to make the process happen.
A good information architect is invaluable for companies seeking to increase site visits and e-commerce activity, as ease-of-use keeps users engaged with your website or platform. As e-commerce becomes an increasingly common way for companies to do business, more and more information architects will be needed.
If you’re wondering how to become an information architect and get in on this in-demand career, read on.
What Is an Information Architect?
An information architect creates a sitemap, diagram, or digital blueprint that represents a digital space in a way that is both meaningful and useful for its visitors. These designs are focused on avoiding overly complicated structures and functions, making them easier for users to successfully operate.
Think of how a building’s architect designs a building. It has to suit the client’s requests, including branding and aesthetics, as well as provide functional design. An information architect does this in digital spaces such as websites and software applications.
Many information architects move into the role from an adjacent field such as programming, interface design, or other web-related professions. Being successful requires an amalgamation of complex problem-solving skills, mind-mapping ability, thoughtful creativity, insight, and vision.
What Does an Information Architect Do?
An information architect performs many different tasks, including:
- Designing sites for ease of use. This is the most fundamental job of an information architect.
- Organizing layouts to more effectively provide information. Think of a news website that has the day’s top stories right at the top of the homepage, refreshing as new stories become available.
- Categorizing products or items for more efficient discovery. On e-commerce sites, categories make finding the right type of item easier. Think women’s sweaters, size large, navy blue. That’s information architecture at work.
- Creating intuitive links between pages. Imagine you’re browsing Wikipedia. First, you’re reading about the Berlin Wall, and five clicks later you’re reading about a German painter. Information architecture has led you into those related topics as you come across them.
Though there are varied approaches to information architecture and opinions on the most successful strategies involved, some core concepts are almost always present. These same development processes are also present in all other forms of architecture — building, urban design, and landscape architecture included.
These development processes include:
- Programming. The process of collecting information for the project
- Analysis. The organization and categorization of the data
- Synthesis. The creation of a coherent model representing the intended project vision
- Specification. The final deliverable of formal blueprints
As a general rule, the faster users find their way to their desired destination when interacting with your content, the higher their satisfaction. In turn, your content becomes valuable to them, increasing revenue and positive exposure.
Say an internet user arrives at your artisanal crafts e-commerce store after seeing an advertisement for a specific artisan’s products on Facebook. They want to find those specific products, but navigating through your website is complicated. If their search takes too long, they’re likely to abandon it and bounce to a competitor’s site.
Information architects ensure that digital layouts, such as those on websites and apps, are as accessible as possible across all devices. That way, customers are more likely to continue using them.
A successful user experience with a product can happen without an information architect. Still, your content will be more accessible and successful with consumers if you have a qualified information architect on the team. Performing usability testing of conceptual platforms helps website interface designers ensure their projects are in line with best IA practices.
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How Do You Become an Information Architect?
Information architects are in high demand by companies trying to maximize user interaction with their digital content. There are different routes to securing a position, but 62% of people in the field have a bachelor’s degree while 21% have a master’s degree.
Does this mean you need a college degree to become an information architect? The answer is no. Other methods of gaining the skills and qualifying for the certifications needed to become an information architect include self-study programs and bootcamps.
1. Entry-Level Info
Due to the high demand for skilled information architects in the modern digital age, entry-level IA workers in the United States earn an average annual income of $58,890.
An entry-level information architect can expect to perform the following job tasks:
- Researching and analyzing user needs and preferences
- Assisting development teams in planning site or app structures
- Preparing data models to support site structure or restructure
2. Mid-Level Info
An established information architect with five to nine years of experience in the role can expect to earn an average annual salary of $97,968. Those looking for a mid-career change of scenery can easily find what they’re looking for—information architects are in high demand just about everywhere, with higher concentrations in tech-oriented cities like San Francisco and Seattle.
A mid-level information architect can expect to perform the following job tasks:
- Structuring and classifying information within websites and apps to help users find information and content
- Designing digital interfaces that facilitate both task completion and ease of access to the information
- Creating sitemaps and intuitive interface functionality that promote user engagement
3. Senior-Level Info
Senior-level professionals that have become well-established in the field of information architecture and have between ten and 19 years of experience in the role can expect to earn an average annual salary of $119,285.
A senior-level information architect can expect to perform the following job tasks:
- Expertly designing a site or app structures and user interfaces, maximizing user satisfaction
- Carefully analyzing site or app metrics to identify areas that need improvement
- Directing and managing lower-level colleagues as a team leader
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