The digital apps and websites you use every day are organized and structured for your user experience. Information architects (IAs) are responsible for this organization. They use their skills in both writing and design to present digital content that can be easily digested and navigated by users. Technical writing and graphic design are key skills that these professionals use to optimize the display of web pages and applications.
Interested in pursuing this career? Here are 5 suggested steps for entering this field:
Information architects are responsible for the organization and structure for web pages, software, applications, and more. This includes everything from the way content is categorized to the order of drop down menus. Information architects work by creating sitemaps, user flow, navigation menus, categorizing, and other ways to organize how data and information will be presented.
Information architects work closely with many departments in order to create the best product for the user. They must consider what the user will see as well as how they will interact with the product. Because of this, it is helpful for information architects to understand components of graphic design and UX design, as they work closely with UX designers. It’s also important that written content on a webpage or in an application is concise and relevant, so technical content writing is another necessary skill for information architects to possess. A proficient and experienced information architect is able to create the ultimate user experience.
According to The Information Architect Institute, this field is defined by three parts:
UX Matters also recommends that information architects learn Java, MySQL, PHP/Pearl, and other server-side development languages. The more an IA knows about the development side of web pages and applications, the better they can provide support and offer solutions during the planning and design process.
If a degree in information architecture is not available at your institution, degrees in design, graphic design, copywriting, and advertising or marketing are great pathways that will provide stepping stones into this field.
These three coding languages are considered the most used by information architects. The use and understanding of these three programming languages will aid in web development.
Bootcamps allow you to focus on the skills and tools needed to succeed in this particular field. While there are quick bootcamps and courses that teach the fundamentals in becoming an IA, most complete bootcamps last between 8 to 36 weeks and will focus on both web development and design skills. Many help you to create a project or portfolio that can be used in the interview process. Others help match you with internships and entry-level positions.
IA’s need to utilize tools in both web development and UX design. There are many programs that provide the tools needed to complete work.
This graduate degree can help you to earn a more senior level position and also increase your knowledge in the field. Most master’s degrees in this concentration focus on agile development practices. Furthering your education will also allow you to continue to develop your own best practices and keep up with ever changing trends.
While a direct path into this position can stem from a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Architecture, IAs can also come from backgrounds in library science, information technology, information science, and graphic design. To learn specific IA skills, bootcamps in information architecture and UX design can help bridge any gaps and also offer a concentrated curriculum. Bootcamps are also offered online, in-person, and through hybrid formats.
Depending on the extent of your education and the path you take, becoming an IA can take anywhere from four to eight years. If you do not earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Architecture, bootcamps are a great way to add the missing skills you need to add to your existing skills to make you marketable to companies.
Because IAs must incorporate a variety of technical skills in their profession, they are in high demand. The most marketable IAs are those who keep up with the latest web development and UX design trends and tools.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically collect data on information architects, they do predict that the job outlook for web designers and digital designers will be 13% from 2020 to 2030. This is well above the average job outlook of 6%, which is extremely encouraging for IAs.
According to Indeed.com, IA’s are offered in a variety of industries from startups to large corporations. As of October 2021, IAs were needed at companies including GE (electronics), IBM (software), Compass (education), Dupont (technology), and Google (web services). This is also encouraging as IAs can specialize in a specific industry where they have interests.
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for this occupation is $113,758 in the United States. Compensation varies according to experience as well as geographical location, so the average salaries for some of the most popular U.S. tech hubs are listed in the chart below.
|Tech Hub||Average Salary (as of October 2021)|
|New York, NY||$112,204|
|San Jose, CA||$141,506|