Plan your IA

Plan your information architecture's (IA) taxonomy, group your content, and visualize your IA.

When planning your IA:

  • organise it so that users can find what they're looking for
  • highlight content so that users can discover new things that are relevant to them
  • streamline the IA to make life simpler for everyone
  • test the IA to make sure it works


Build out your taxonomy

A taxonomy is a list of agreed terms and words that you can use to categorise content across your digital ecosystem. These words can help you decide what labels to use for your IA, as you structure content around it.

Some general types of taxonomy for IA can include terms like:

  • users
  • products
  • services
  • how-to tips
  • providers
  • publications

Organise your taxonomy into categories and then a hierarchy of related terms to use for your IA. It’s helpful to know what each term means and what it refers to.

Use methods like card sorting or keyword research to build out your taxonomy. Find out common terms and words from your subject experts and business objectives.

Group content

There is no rule about how you should group headings in your IA. Some helpful ways might be by subject, task or user types.

Subject-based IA

Group your information into the subjects you need to cover. For example:

  • aged care
  • single parents
  • families
  • residency
  • businesses

These examples will be different from agency to agency.

Task-based IA

Group your information into the tasks a user needs to achieve. For example:

  • applying for an ABN
  • updating or cancelling your ABN
  • applying for other registrations

User types-based IA

Group your information into types of users. For example:

  • individuals
  • businesses
  • tax professionals etc.

Consider using this approach for behavioural rather than demographic groupings. For example, ‘buyers and suppliers’ rather than ‘parents, children, adolescents’. If you are considering demographic groupings, test this out with users first.

The larger and deeper an IA is, the harder it is for users to navigate and the harder it is to maintain. It can also cause search issues if important content is buried deep in a site.

Australian Taxation Office, 2017

Visualise your IA

Use a visual tool or site map to visualise your IA as you develop it. This is also useful to show stakeholders.

Where an IA is deep and there are hundreds of pages, use additional tools to map the complete IA. The most available option is to map your full IA using a spreadsheet.

When visualising, consider using a basic linking, interlinking or deep-cross linking IA.

This basic IA structure shows a page hierarchy with the parent page at the top and the child pages coming out of that below.

Basic IA

A basic, commonly used IA structure with parent and child pages.

This interlinking IA structure shows a page hierarchy that includes parent pages out of the main page and then child pages coming out of those parent pages. There are connections vertically down the hierarchy, but also horizontal ones that connect the child pages.

Interlinking IA

An interlinking IA is useful for sites with a lot of overlapping content. The top level page has sub pages (parent page) and child pages. The child pages are interlinked.

This deep cross-linking IA structure shows a complex page hierarchy. The parent page sits at the top and out of this flows both child and then grandchild pages. In this structure their are connections vertically down through each level but also horizontally across the pages. There is a lot of interconnectivity.

Deep cross-linking IA

Parent, child and grandchild pages, accessible from multiple levels.