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Chapter 4. Involving Customers with Iter... > Information Architecture, Navigation...

Information Architecture, Navigation Design, and Graphic Design

No matter what form of design you're carrying out—information architecture, navigation design, or graphic design—use the design goals and principles we have described to guide your work. Information architecture means identifying, structuring, and presenting groups of related content in a logical and coherent manner.[2] Navigation design means designing methods so that customers can find their way around the information structure. Graphic design means developing the visual communication of information, using elements such as color, images, typography, and layout. Information and navigation design are typically done before graphic design.

[2] There is an ongoing (and sometimes heated) debate in the design community about the delineation between information architecture and information design. In general, information architecture focuses more on things like structure and language, while information design concentrates on presentation and perception. However, distinctions between these two fields are still very blurry. Information architecture and information design represent a convergence of multiple disciplines with different backgrounds, vocabularies, and cultures. The key here is to go beyond these superficial differences and to focus on what they all have in common: helping customers find, understand, and manage complex information.

Figure 4.3 shows how these three types of design relate to one another, as well as how usability evaluation and traditional human–computer interface design fit into the picture. All three approaches to design are necessary. A graphic design that is rich with images cannot compensate for a poor information architecture. Likewise, a clean information architecture cannot make up for a navigation design that hides the location of all the navigation elements.


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