Hey Siri, what’s Information Architecture?

Hey Siri, what’s Information Architecture?

“Information architecture is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design, architecture and information science to the digital landscape.”

With digital products rapidly changing and ever evolving, information architecture is becoming more and more important to help users make sense of those products. The more content that a product holds, the more sophisticated the information architecture will need to be in order to streamline the user’s journey to create an efficient and delightful experience.

Technology, digital products, and information architecture have come a long way; but there is no sign of it slowing down any time soon. Voice User Interface (VUI) is evidence of that. It was one thing to organize information on a digital interface, but with the emergence of Siri and Alexa, comes the question of how do we organize voice command designs?

Voice User Interface (VUI) allows users to interact with a system with only voice and speech commands.

This is another example of technology continuing to make our lives easier and more convenient, but there are also other advantages to VUI: accessibility. It opens a world of doors to users with disabilities who may not be able to perform certain tasks and are now able to do so with voice commands. VUI can be implemented into almost any daily products such as home security systems, televisions, smart watches, thermostats, refrigerators, etc.

And the most obvious benefit of VUI is that users do not have to physically touch anything to interact with the product. This can be important in certain settings like driving in a car or performing medical tasks in hospital environments. VUI may be especially beneficial in current COVID times where physical touching is unsafe.

While VUI looks very promising, there are still challenges ahead. Let’s see how it stacks up to the Information Architecture heuristics:

  1. Is it findable? Users can easily find what they’re looking for because it is pretty straightforward with a voice command. However, that’s the only way they can access information.
  2. Is it accessible? VUI checks the box on this one. It can be implemented in almost any digital device and is accessible for those who cannot physically interact with a product.
  3. Is it clear? It is pretty clear and straightforward since there is only one method of interaction.
  4. Is it communicative? That really depends on how the system was built and what messages and information they are pulling from the answer voice commands. However, unlike digital interfaces, users cannot visually see or know where they are at within the product.
  5. Is it usable? Yes, but there are limits. Language barriers, accents, jargon and background noise could all pose a problem to using VUI.
  6. Is it credible? This would also depend on the system.
  7. Is it controllable? Unfortunately with VUI, since there are no visuals, users can’t really know what options they have or what they are able to accomplish. It is pretty open ended and may not always be accurate since it is only relying on the voice command it interprets.
  8. Is it valuable? VUI can be very valuable for the right users.
  9. Is it learnable? VUI is very straightforward and simple to use.
  10. Is it delightful? This also depends on the system, but VUI in general can be very delightful for the right users.

There is a lot of promise for VUI technology in the future, but there is still a long way to go and a lot of Information Architecture heuristics for it to meet and exceed.

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UX/UI ponderer. Likes travel. Hates bios.

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Winnie Phung

Winnie Phung

UX/UI ponderer. Likes travel. Hates bios.

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