Technology is always changing, and that includes the ways in which information is used and shared. As marketing, communication, and sales lean even more significantly toward digital resources, so do the available pathways, interfaces, and opportunities to share details and data. In short, information architecture is the next big thing.
It sounds complex, and in some ways, it is, but information architecture simply refers to the structural design of shared environments, like the layout of websites, online communities, and software, to enhance the user experience. While still fairly young in terms of digital trends, current use implies that the principles of effective organization are the future of UX design. Here’s what 2018 – and beyond – has in store for the expanding world of information architecture.
Better Discovery Patterns
While content trends are constantly shifting, recent research is clear: users like content that is both predictable and easy to read. While in-depth, long-form pieces have a purpose, the average reader wants something that is easily consumable.
Information architecture seeks to define the ways in which readers absorb content, targeting user flow and content discovery paths to create products that better suit current needs. This can make websites easier to navigate and content easier to read, providing a better experience for all kinds of web-based destinations. With options like better autocomplete and search pattern detection as well as enhanced navigation and filtering, the organization of information can lead to more satisfying results for both businesses and consumers.
Spoken Alternatives to Text
Speaking versus typing has seen an explosion in popularity from Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, allowing users to hold conversations and make requests as opposed to taking a manual approach to online activity. While the transition isn’t quite there yet – most voice to text programs are quite lacking in accuracy and structure – the framework is opening new doors to a non-visual interface.
Today, limited use of this technology exists everywhere from cell phones to car navigational systems, but as the organization and logistics improve, talking to technology is likely to become significantly more popular.
The Growth of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality, or the use of tech devices to interact and enhance options available in the real world, is already making a splash in marketing, from deriving nutrition facts from a scanned barcode to using QR codes to access premium content in real time. However, as this field grows, the potential for further integration is vast.
The ways in which consumers can interact with businesses are virtually limitless, allowing companies to tap into their customer base by offering exclusive or desired content through improved organization, like seeing images of dishes by scanning a menu, applying paint colors virtually to a room, or scoping out public bathrooms on a map.
Enhanced User Entrapping
Competition on the web is greater today than ever before. With more sites, more options, and falling ad revenue, companies are up against a steep, rocky climb when attempting to attract customer attention. While not necessarily great for the user, improved approaches to information architecture allow designers and developers to employ tools that keep visitors in one place for a prolonged period of time, thus increasing both visibility and advertising exposure.
While controversial and ultimately incompatible with the UX objectives of information architecture, tactics like burying the location of desired content, utilizing nonlinear navigational paths, and showing content piece by piece are all gaining ground.
Information architecture is the framework of the future, providing a better user experience while keeping consumers, readers, and customers more engaged with brands and businesses. While not necessarily intuitive to many small businesses, the potential is great, providing new and diverse ways to stay competitive in the market.