January 23, 2023
Information Architecture mainly addresses two types of problems in todays digital products. One is information overload, when there is too much information to simply scroll/browse through. Another is multiple ways to access information when the same information can be accessed across multiple devices.
The phrase "Information Overload" was popularised by futurist Alvin Toffler in the 1970s.
Today, thanks to the digital revolution, the amount of information available across the internet is huge. In addition, the ease of producing and publishing information is high.
Some of the most successful companies were founded to enable people to find information online (eg. Google). 19th and 20th century technology has evolved to manage information.
Information Architecture helps organise the massive volumes of date for users to find and understand it.
More Ways to Access Information
There was a time when information was limited to the physical mediums/artefacts that contained it. For eg. physical books, CDs etc. However, right now things are different. Thanks to the "Cloud", information lives freely and can be accessed from any device at any time.
For instance, an eBook is not tied to any physical device, like the Kindle. An eBook on one device is synced to the cloud and I can access it from Kindle Mac App, Kindle iPad, Kindle eReader on a browser of my choice.
Another important difference between physical media and digital media is that the latter can gather information to improve accessibility. It adds to the usability of the devices and contents. For example, Kindle gathers data like usage history, highlights, annotations, reading patterns etc. It can then provide additional features based on the metadata (eg. moving to the last read location)
Information Architecture helps in making the experience across devices coherent.