Design maturity. Articles and work by Tim Leisio

Principles of information architecture

High-level guardrails to enact design-bias product decisions.

Authored on August 12, 2020. Updated on February 15, 2021.

Information architecture (IA) is a discipline that helps teams create meaningful relationships between core decisions of software products.

With this definition, IA is a required "making sense of messes" skill set for individuals, project teams, and organizations that desire to reach a higher level of design maturity.

In an effort to improve the quality of IA within software products, these are the five principles of IA that I have found most useful.

The principles

1. Minimize user types

A project team should strive to define scope to a minimum number of core user types. Start with one, and only increase as absolutely necessary.

2. Minimize user goals

A project team should strive to define scope to a minimum number of user goals per user type. Start with one, and only increase as absolutely necessary.

3. Minimize user goals per page

A project team should strive to define scope to a minimum number of user goals per page of a product. Start with one, and only increase as absolutely necessary.

4. Content follows user goals

Product content should answer “what” information helps a person achieve their goal.

5. Distribute content over time

Product content should be distributed in a product over time to take a person through a sequence that meaningfully accomplishes their goal.


Generally, these principles help scope products and focus teams. Additionally, the can act as a high-level evaluation to frame the state of a mature product.

Such clarity of scope and foucs helps tremendously with operational decisions of a team or organization:

In the future, I plan to write playbook activities that use these principles in practice, since these principles begin to enable the enactment of a design-bias product decision framework.


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