For Digital Managers, Information Architecture, or the IA, can be one of the first major deliverables of a website project. When working with clients who are unfamiliar with this document, the presentation of the IA can quickly turn into a series of misunderstandings, confusion, and mutual frustration. Regardless of who presents the document - the Information Architect, or the Digital Manager - recognizing the importance of framing the conversation is critical in the success of the deliverable. Knowing there is great variation around the style in which this document can be produced, there are a few key points that must be articulated about its meaning. While these points may seem obvious to web professionals, they may not always be for clients, and warrant repeating.
Information Architecture doesn't tell the whole story: An IA is intended to communicate very specific data - primarily, what content will be included within a site, and how it will be categorized, or grouped together. An IA may not indicate page layout or user flow. There also may be significant interlinking between pages that is not indicated on the IA, because the links will live within the website copy.
Information Architecture is not linear: Users may enter and exit a website from any page. Do not assume all visitors will first arrive at the homepage and navigate from section to section based on the order of pages presented in the document. Shared links, bookmarks, search engine results and paid media may all drive users to internal pages of a site, bypassing the homepage entirely.
Once the IA is approved, it will be used to inform content development, graphic design, and technical development. It is the basis for the structure of a website, so it's important that you ensure the client fully comprehends its meaning when you receive approval. Be patient and allocate sufficient time for the initial presentation. It will build confidence in your leadership skills, as well as in the finished product.