The eight principles of information architecture were proposed by information architect, UX designer, consultant and speaker Dan Brown. These principles are a great starting point for creating or assessing the structure of your own site and it is worthwhile quickly going through them and defining what they mean.
1. The principle of objects
This principle means viewing content as a living thing, with its own lifecycle and featuring behaviours and attributes. The architect needs to define and understand the nature of these when embarking on a structure.
2. The principle of choices
Create pages that offer meaningful choices to users, keeping the range of choices available focused on a particular task and, therefore, relevant to the user. Too many options can be worse than too few as users can become bogged down, and even paralysed with indecision is overloaded with choice.
3. The principle of disclosure
Only show users what they need to decide if they want to delve further. Once they appreciate the nature of the option they can pursue it or not as desired.
4. The principle of exemplars
If some of the category options are not self-explanatory use some exemplars of the content to show users what they will be accessing. Images can be especially useful and expressive in this context.
5. The principle of front doors
Not all users will enter your site at the home page so don’t construct your site for just those that do. Give people who arrive at other pages the chance to view useful information and navigation aids from wherever they come on board and try to make your site accessible from wherever they land.
6. The principle of multiple classification
Provide different ways for users to search the content on your site. Using search and top-level menus are two ways of doing this, but some users might wish to browse or move through the hierarchy so make sure your information architecture meets their need.
7. The principle of focused navigation
Keep your navigation aids consistent. Make sure your menus relate to the same areas and don’t mix subjects and confuse the user. If you are producing a menu of product types don’t drop other services into it or if the menu is for navigational purposes don’t include functional or marketing items.
8. The principle of growth
The content you start off with will only be a small fraction of the content you will acquire so your site needs to be scalable. Give it room to grow and develop organically and by addition.
If you would like to know more about the eight principles or feel you would benefit from discussing your site architecture with an expert why get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.