Information Architecture as Part of UCD

Information architecture (IA) is a service that analytically breaks down and organizes the information space of a website, application, or product. For a full description of the IA service see our IA page. In this section we describe the two primary contributions to UCD design provided by IA: Task Analysis and UX content modeling.

Task Analysis: Identifying and Prioritizing Use Cases

Task analysis is an analysis method that informs design by identifying and prioritizing the tasks or “use cases” that are performed with a product, website, or service.

Task analysis begins with assumptions about user profiles.

For each persona, through interviewing and observation, the task analysis process builds:

  • A task inventory—All observed tasks and activities
  • A task hierarchy—Hierarchical relationships among observed activities
  • A goal hierarchy—Hierarchical relationships among purposes underlying the activities
  • Task flow—Temporal relationships among activities

Innovation and task re-engineering occur when designers consider the goals behind existing tasks and identify and remove inappropriate or unnecessary constraints.

From these inputs, designers create concept designs for review and refinement, followed by interaction design for the prioritized (and potentially re-engineered) tasks.

User eXperience (UX) Content Model

A UX content model guides people through an application’s information space the way a topographic map guides people through a geographic space. It is a UML object diagram representing the information space of the application, displaying:

  • The information with which the UI must interact (for example, data sources and reports)
  • The information objects that the UI must display (for example, input forms and business intelligence tables and charts)
  • The relationships among those information objects (for example, information hierarchies and data dependencies)
  • The qualities of those information objects (for example, dimensions, granularity, and metadata)

The primary sources for determining the information objects and their relationships are the interaction objects described in the requirements document.

The content model serves three purposes:

  1. The content model captures TecEd’s understanding of the information space, providing a mechanism for feedback with our clients.
  2. The information objects, their relationships, and their qualities in the content model inform screen design by describing the information objects that need to be displayed.
  3. The information objects’ relationships inform navigation by describing the flow of information needed by the user.