When the project negotiations and discussions stages are over, industry, competitors and future consumers analysis are done, the first sketches on paper are made, and the designer’s thoughts are more or less structured, a serious and essential process of product information architecture development begins.
Information architecture is elements organization, sometimes of a quite complex system. Its primary purpose is to make them clear and accessible for the end product user.
In product design, the information architecture leads to site or application map creation, navigation process development as well as wireframes and prototype design of the future product.
1. Site or app map
A site or app map is a visual representation of the website or app pages hierarchy. It is easy to understand the product structure and navigation system with its help.
2. Wireframes and visual plans
Wireframes and visual plans are the results of a thorough preparation that needs to be done to create a product. The prototype is gradually taking the shape of a real user interface at the wireframe stage. Modern prototyping tools allow creating very realistic interactions. It is rather difficult to manage without digital design especially when the tasks are too large-scale, and the functional requirements are extensive for the future product. The program toolset will help to show the interactive parts of the future site or application very realistic under these conditions.
Product wireframes can rightly be considered a skeleton of the future product. The final product functionality and its important elements are displayed in them. This is a kind of project documentation. Since they show the user interaction with the product interface in certain static moments, they should be accompanied by text comments: both short explanations and complex technical documentation, if necessary.
Many people are mistaken in considering sketches to be the wireframes on paper, but these are two completely different concepts. Sketches most often precede the stage of wireframes and are the initial stage of turning an idea into something tangible.
3. Product Clickable Prototype
Nowadays, a detailed clickable prototype is the final part of designing information architecture for the product. With the entry of such tools as Invision, Principle, Figma, UXPin, Flinto Origami or XD on the market, the high-quality prototype’s design has become much easier. These applications are very fast and easy to use, and some of them even provide the ability to create advanced level motion-design and animations.
In its turn, a prototype, often confused with a wireframe, that actually is a detailed representation of the final product that simulates user interaction with an interface.
Its goal is to test the main ways of interaction with an interface as if it were a finished product. This is a kind of simulation of interaction with the final product interface. The interactions should be most similar to what the finished product offers to the user.
A good UX specialist can connect all aspects of great user experience in one product. The high-quality product architecture creation is aimed at creating a good user’s impression of interacting with the product. A product designer should focus his attention on the user’s needs, and this correspondingly means developing an understanding of how to create the best algorithm for performing tasks for a specific user. The easier to move from the beginning to the end of a certain process for a user, the easier it will be to interact with the product and, most likely, the user will have the best impression of interaction with the product in general.