he information architecture of your knowledge base plays a crucial role in shaping your customer experience. The overall focus of this exercise is on organizing, structuring, and labeling your content so that users can find the required information easily. Information architecture, thus, acts as a bridge connecting users and content.
Think of your knowledge base articles as pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. So, information architecture helps you build a meaningful picture by aligning these pieces correctly. Knowledge base content is effectively slotted into categories and sections to build the content hierarchy. The key objective is to create a coherent structure of your knowledge base. Hence, visitors to your knowledge base page should not waste too much time finding the information they need.
Information architecture perspectives
Let’s assume, your knowledge base contains several articles related to diverse products. So, what happens when a user refers to the knowledge base to resolve a specific product issue. Incoherent or complex information architecture can result in poor user experience. The user finds it perplexing and a little time-consuming to find the relevant information on the website. In essence, information architecture and user experience are intrinsic to one another. On the one hand, user experience perspectives guide the design of information architecture. And, on the other, information architecture shapes user experience. Hence, content management systems are built on evolving concepts of information architecture. The basic concepts take into account key aspects such as navigation, user environment, usability, and searchability.
The science of information architecture is a vast and complex discipline that requires careful study of several aspects that guide the process of information search. Essentially, the information retrieval and search process are guided by both human dynamics and technology factors, it requires a multi-dimensional approach. However, if we understand the basic principles of the information retrieval process, we can design more optimized web spaces.
Information architecture principles
Since this is a vast topic, we will focus only on the key principles guiding effective information architecture practice for your website.
The information environment provides a space where you place your content. The environment design, hence, plays a crucial role in defining the user experience. So, the various navigation structures, information pieces, and headers create an environment for the users. The environment determines how the users perceive the nature and quality of information offered on the website. A slipshod information environment design creates havoc within the user’s minds and they find it difficult to find relevant information. Hence, the context in which your content is placed plays an important role in shaping user perspectives and the ease of finding useful information.
Content organization structures
Voluminous content and diversity of information available to users are a couple of reasons why we need to categorize information segments into meaningful bits. This not only makes it easier for users to find relevant information easily but also creates a meaningful association between related pieces of information. You can catalog or classify your content based on distinct themes or related information groups. You can create sub-categories or sections to further classify your content into relevant groups. Your content organization should reflect an identifiable pattern that makes sense to your readers.
Your information strategy focuses on identifying the key information required by your users, audience, or the public in general. So, a part of your information strategy decides on how to build this information base and another part defines its application in context to your products. Essentially, information strategy is an amalgamation of strategic planning and information management principles. One of the basic principles of an information strategy is consistent and precise communication. Users love simple and precise use of language to provide relevant information in context to a product, application, or concept. So, stop beating around the bush and hit the bull’s eye with clarity in the meaning you want to convey to your readers.
Hyperlinks and content links play an important role in finding the information you need. Often, the best practices in information management involve the extensive use of external and internal links within the main content. Basically, links help users in finding additional details, any useful tips, or related bits of contextual information. Further, make sure you provide your audience with related content links to ease the process of information search. Remember, your audience lacks the patience of going through pages and pages of irrelevant content to find what they need. So, make the search process easier for them.
Designing your knowledge base on the principles of information architecture
The application of the above-mentioned information architecture principles within the knowledge base domain requires mapping your user needs to content management. But, how do you do this? Let us assume, you have multiple products. Your user support information needs will be filtered on the specific product they are using. So, the first requirement is to categorize your content on the products. The next step will be to create specific information segments for your users. This will make it easier for your users to filter and find the information they are looking for.
To conclude, information architecture principles essentially focus on context, content, and user requirements. If your content is not aligned to your business context and ignores the user information needs, the entire effort is wasted. Once you have outlined your information strategy, focus on creating relevant content categories for easy search. Do not forget to review and monitor your knowledge base design periodically. And, most important, deploy a dynamic knowledge management tool for efficient content management.
Sign up for ngDesk to avail its dynamic knowledge base tool. The system enables you to create multiple categories and sections to structure your content.