How does an interaction designer understand an information architecture?

Source: Internet
Author: User

Today to share an interactive design advanced course, about product information architecture thinking, this is an interactive designer to grow a key point, but also interactive design of the hammer of the cornerstone, the article is very deep, it is worth learning by heart.

This is suitable for interactive design or interested in interactive design of the small partners to see. So I'm not going to explain what the information architecture is. Today, write about the product information architecture.

Any product has an information architecture, or complex or simple. In the context of this discussion, I have roughly divided the information architecture into two examples. One is relatively simple information architecture, such as most TOC products, micro-letters, QQ music, Tencent video, etc. one is a more complex information architecture, such as most TOB products, operation and maintenance products, customer relationship management systems, business support systems and so on. I call the first one a "lightweight architecture" product, and the second one is called a "refactoring" product.

Light architecture products, need to provide users with a simple and clear information architecture, so that users easy to use, experience smooth. Light architecture products can not let users lose their way, can not bring too much learning costs, the face of the vast number of ordinary users to achieve the availability and high efficiency. Lightweight architecture products can be focused by subtracting them.

Re-architecture products need to provide a full-featured, well-structured information architecture, so that users can operate through the process to use the various functions. Such a framework will bring some learning costs, and some of the refactoring products even need to train the users. The user community of the heavily architected product is generally more focused. It is difficult to focus on the product by subtraction, but it is necessary to make a reasonable integration and flexible layout to focus on the core user scene. So it's more difficult and more important to refactor the product, the information framework.

My design work in Huawei includes lightweight architecture products and heavy architecture products.

The benefits of designing lightweight architecture products are easy and enjoyable, and users are generally more likely to feel common sense, and even the user is yourself. The difficulty lies in breakthrough and innovation.

The advantage of designing a refactoring product is that it is a good opportunity to hone interactive skills, the more complex the information architecture, the higher the requirements for interactive design, and the better the exercise effect. The difficulty is that the heavy structure of the product needs to understand the business thoroughly, the business understanding threshold is high, the massive function can not do the simplification, the user is the unfamiliar group, needs the user research support to understand the user, the information structure complex causes the interactive design difficulty high, the error rate high, laborious. The design of the structure of the product to the overall view of the requirements are very high.

Now, I'm going to talk about the role of these structures in the information architecture design of user experience design, based on the classification of information structures in the "User Experience Essentials: User-centric product design" book by Jesse James Garrett. Some real-world examples will be given to discuss how to use these structures to help think.

  I. Hierarchy (hierarchical structure)

"There is a parent/child relationship between a node and other related nodes in a hierarchy. A child node represents a narrower concept, from belonging to a parent node that represents a more generalized category. Not every node has child nodes, but each node has a parent node that goes up until the parent node of the entire structure. The concept of hierarchical relationships is very easy to understand for users, and software tends to work at a hierarchical level, so this type of structure is the most common. ”

This is the most common way, the tree chart, family map, and so on, are the route. This line is quite natural. This structure is believed to be used by most designers, so ordinary scenes are not discussed much. What I want to focus on here is a balanced way of using the hierarchy.

What is a balanced way of using it?

This is also I recently thought out ... First of all we know that the hierarchy can bring two kinds of design ideas.

The first kind, from top to bottom. From the main vision of the product, step by step to subdivide each functional feature.

The second kind, from bottom to top. Starting with the functional features that are valuable to the user, step up and down to the product soul.

If you read my last article on the design process of thinking, these two ways is the strategic layer, the scope of the two-way way.

The first is easy to understand, the strategy set a general direction, management to communicate and guide, the implementation of layer output, step-by-step decomposition of tasks until the task volume is clear, the implementation of the product results.

The second type of products used in the heavy structure, such as a customer service to China Telecom to do TOB products, we must first understand the customer service staff work every day task flow, operation flow, the required module set, and then inverted to a functional module, and then backward to form a system.

Recently I did the refactoring product, the second method used quite a lot. is a bit of a brain, but hey, I graduate game theory this course is a + is not afraid. lol

Both of these approaches are flawed.

I give a recent design example, is a heavy structure of products, first of all, the product's strategic level has been confirmed, in other words, from top to bottom is a reasonable idea; however, the product is too complex and more functional characteristics, the cooperation department of large span, when it appears from the bottom to the positive solution

The problem arises. If the decomposition from top to bottom, to the underlying features too much and illogical logic, it is a disorder. If you push backwards from bottom to top, the functional features have combinatorial logic, but to the top-level, the product soul is difficult to set the direction of the first strategic layer.

What do we do? Look at this picture again:

I put the strategic layer of the 1th, the highest parent node, known as the general, the bottom of many functional features called the soldier. The problem now is that the generals give orders, the soldiers messy, the soldiers themselves, the generals can not accept the results. So I think that I should use the top parent node and the bottom node in the middle of those points, I called the Captain. The captain finishing the soldiers, forming a force team, the captain of the general is responsible for, in the team leader layer combined, and finally complete the Army's combat effectiveness synthesis.

This is how I think about the balanced way of using the process. From the top to the bottom is not good, from the bottom to the no, from the middle. We have a large amount of functional features and system architects to confirm, and then through the user interviews to our target users to test, let them to the mass of functional characteristics of the recognition and grouping. At this time, a system architect and target user verification of the middle structure is fixed. At this time "Captain" has been produced. At this time, rethinking the strategic layer of product characteristics, soul positioning, shun the rational middle structure, at this time, another group of "Captain" also produced, they are able to achieve the strategic level (parent node) requirements. Then the two groups of "Captain" began to fuse, starting from the middle, on the next to make adjustments and compromises, and finally get a unified information structure. The focus of this result is the middle structure "Captain". This middle-level structure can satisfy the requirement of the strategy layer, and can satisfy the function of the bottom mass feature.

The problem has been solved.

One point in the interaction design that needs to be diligent is to solve the complex information structure. The process and result of solving the complex information structure will directly affect the design execution and influence of the interaction designer.

  II. Natural structure (organic structures)

"The natural structure does not follow any consistent pattern." Nodes are connected one at a time, and there is no strong classification concept for this structure. Natural structures are appropriate to explore a range of topics that are ambiguous or have been evolving. But the natural structure does not give the user a clear indication of what part of the structure they are in. If you want to encourage the feeling of free exploration, for example, some entertainment or educational websites, the natural structure may be a good choice, but if your users need to rely on the same path next time to find the same content, then this structure may turn the user's experience into a challenge. ”

Such patterns are becoming more and more available in TOC products (especially gaming entertainment products). It conforms to the browsing style of the lightweight architecture product.

One of the classic dimensions that distinguishes user scenarios is: task-based, browser-style.

Task-style features: Complete tasks, fast, accurate, efficient, such as querying the arrival time of a flight.

Browsing features: Debris, time is ample, wandering, divergent, unfocused, attention-attracting type, such as aimlessly brush micro bo, see.

The natural structure is ideal for browsing forms of light architecture products. Because first, to refactor the product, Tob products, if users need to rely on the browse by guessing to use product characteristics to complete the task, that will certainly result is not good, the user would crash; second, TOC products generally have two forms, if not the task, it is likely that users in boredom, need to enter the browser-style.

Of course, the complete natural structure of the design is very little (do not know that the recent hot secret is not counted).

Most TOC products should be task-based and browse-parallel. So the natural structure should be binding other information structures to think about.

such as Tencent Video. The natural structure must be thinking about binding hierarchies. Users into the video products, a possible way to use is that the user has a clear mind, looking for the 2014 American movies to see, so users enter the kind of choice, choose Movies, choose American movies, choose 2014, and then browse. This can be considered first-level structure thinking, after the natural structure of thinking.

If the user is drinking tea at home, wants to see the video, but does not have any purpose, turns on the video product, then they are the browsing type operation, this time the natural architecture has the value. Users on the home page without logical browsing, from the first page of a TV show, see details, not interested, from the TV series recommended Click to the next TV series, then not interested, and then from the drama starring thought he was performing a reality TV show, and ran to the comprehensive arts to browse.

Each product has a different emphasis on the hierarchy and the natural structure. For example, the electronic business products, most people go to the cat is a clear purpose of purchase, this time the task class operation will be more important; but is there a total lack of purchase purpose, is to go to the cat to spend some money or to find some discount products? Sure, but probably not as much as the first user.

So in the information architecture design, I think the natural structure will be an important point of thinking, because our designers should always remember that the user is not rational, they often operate and ideas will appear random state. But the natural structure is not unique, must have the hierarchy structure, the linear structure, the matrix structure and so on other information frame to cooperate and the restraint, can let this product overall information structure complete, usable, effective.

  Third, linear structure (sequential structures)

"The linear structure comes from the offline media that you are most familiar with. A coherent language process is the most basic type of information structure, and the device that handles it has long been implanted in our brains. Books, articles, audio and video are all designed to be a linear experience. In the Internet, linear structures are often used for small-scale structures, such as single articles or individual topics; large-scale linear structures are used to limit the order of content that needs to be presented to applications that are critical to meeting user needs, such as teaching materials. ”

The linear structure is relatively easy to understand. More presents in the Help document, product story telling and so on scene. It's not much to describe.

Here I would like to emphasize that linear structure is another way to practice interactive design logic. One extreme is the complex information architecture (hierarchy, nature, matrix, etc.), and the other extreme is the linear structure. How to tell a story in a coherent language, but not jump and interspersed, to a line to explain the idea, but not a simple thing.

So the interaction design needs to exercise two extreme information architecture description way. One is a complex information architecture, full of hierarchies, jumps, supplements, and crosses; one is a minimalist linear architecture, a thread that tells a story, or even a complex story.

IV. matrix structure (matrices structure)

The matrix structure allows the user to move along two or more dimensions between nodes and nodes. Because each user's needs can be linked to an "axis" in the matrix, matrix structures often help users who "come with different needs" to find what they want in the same content. For example, if some of your users really want to browse the product by color, and others just want to browse through the size of the product, the matrix structure can accommodate both different users. However, if you expect users to think of this as the primary navigation tool, a matrix of more than three dimensions may be problematic. In four or more dimensions, it is not possible for the human brain to visually visualize these movements well. ”

This structure is very well understood. What I want to say here is that most of the design team's KPI evaluation method is the matrix structure. On the one hand, to the line of business to design support products business success, on the one hand, to the design line, to design professional experience to support the team's professional influence building and skills development.

How designers balance this matrix structure management is one of the key points of the designer's growth.

Designers to finish a product, we must go back from the information architecture layer began to think, this product information architecture you have done what kind of innovation, adjustment, what value. Do not only adhere to the interface elements of the specification, design details to solve the problem of precipitation and so on. Because information architecture is the best basis for the interaction design.

Related Article

E-Commerce Solutions

Leverage the same tools powering the Alibaba Ecosystem

Learn more >

11.11 Big Sale for Cloud

Get Unbeatable Offers with up to 90% Off,Oct.24-Nov.13 (UTC+8)

Get It Now >

Alibaba Cloud Free Trial

Learn and experience the power of Alibaba Cloud with a free trial worth $300-1200 USD

Learn more >

Contact Us

The content source of this page is from Internet, which doesn't represent Alibaba Cloud's opinion; products and services mentioned on that page don't have any relationship with Alibaba Cloud. If the content of the page makes you feel confusing, please write us an email, we will handle the problem within 5 days after receiving your email.

If you find any instances of plagiarism from the community, please send an email to: and provide relevant evidence. A staff member will contact you within 5 working days.