Basically, Information Architecture (IA) views websites as libraries in need of the right kind of card catalogue set-up to facilitate information access by visitors.
But most websites aren’t libraries, or merely stores of information. In fact, most commercial websites are more interested in persuading visitors to take certain actions (i.e. converting) than they are in providing access to information.
In this sense, the interactivity enabled by hyperlinks and Websites is more accurately viewed as a digital conversation than a digitized card catalogue. And the goal of the Website’s architect is not to ensure proper categorization of information, but to:
So how do you translate, “steering the conversation” into Web architecture? Well, typically, humans steer a conversation by:
Keeping with this analogy to conversations, a website Architect who wanted to design a site for persuasion (rather than “information access”) would be well advised to:
And that, my friends, is the key to creating a website capable of engaging in more intelligent, respectful, and successful sales conversations (i.e. generating higher conversion rates).
So where does that leave traditional Information Architecture?
Well…One still needs a sitemap. You still want those methodical types and returning visitors to be able to skip the conversation and just look up the content they want, which requires you to establish some type of organizational schema and persistent navigation. Traditional IA is great at this because it’s basically digitized library science to begin with.
But never confuse helping users to “find and manage information,” with engaging visitors in meaningful sales conversations. For that you’ll need Persuasion Architecture (PA) –not Information Architecture (IA).