Information Architecture (IA) in Daily Life

Reading Time: 2 mins approx

Are you the kind of person who likes organising everything around you? Every time I dig around for a file in my system or have to do an unnecessary search to access a folder, I feel like I’m least organised. I know a few people who love doing it and that includes my husband! 😀 Let me make it clear. He is a photographer by passion and his hard drive is filled with photographs (may be more than four terabytes or so). Still, I can easily get any photos I look for and had never wasted time hunting for any of them. Though it’s very simple, I like the way he organises the photographs. Being a UX Designer, I really feel it’s a good real-life example of Information Architecture (IA).

As we know IA focuses on organizing, structuring, and labelling content in an effective and sustainable way. In simple words, the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.

His collection of photos are all in a folder named ‘PHOTOGRAPHY’ and let me show you the folder.

PS: An initial learning curve is definitely required as we are not used to these terms!

  • All the unprocessed files which they call as “RAW files” (NEF is Nikon’s RAW file format) are in folders RAW <Year>. Once we are back from a trip, he moves all raw files into this folder and takes it up for lengthy edits during his free time.
  • Folders <Year> has all the edited and ready to see jpeg files, which is my area of interest!
  • In case, if I need to get a file for a large photo print, it needs to be a bigger size (neither NEF files nor jpeg files). Here comes the role of Process<Year> folders, which has the maximum size files in PSD or TIFF formats (partially or fully edited ones). These are the actual source files of the jpeg images in <Year> folders and can be used for further editing if required.  

Inside each of these folders, you have the month folders. Only to show the months in order from Jan-Dec, he has named it as 01-Jan, 02-Feb and so on.

Within each month folder, the event/trip photos are all grouped in specific folders named accordingly.

And this taught me, a good name would allow you to right away see what’s inside a folder without even opening it.

Considering any website or application, labelling (what we call pages, menus or links) ensures that our navigation and hierarchy is appropriately titled, which plays a large role in whether users will be able to find that information or not. So whenever you decide on labels, always think about how you might look for it.