5.6 Information Architecture & Relationship

Information Architecture is concerned with how information is organized, structured, labelled, and presented for maximum access. The content of a Government website or any website per se, has to be structured in such a way that the target audience is able to access the desired information with minimum effort. The following guidelines are important for achieving the objective of well-organized Information Architecture:


It is imperative that the information and services on the website are well organised and categorized into relevant modules/sections and sub-sections so that any information can be located conveniently and is not buried deep inside WebPages. These sections or categories may be identified with headings or labels. Headings wherever used MUST correctly describe topic or purpose of content. Headings must be specified using HTML heading tags (H1 to H6) with proper hierarchy. When headings are clear and descriptive, users can find the information they seek more easily, and they can understand the relationships between different parts of the content more easily. Descriptive labels help users identify specific components within the content. Labels and headings do not need to be lengthy. A single word, may suffice if it provides an appropriate cue to finding and navigating content. (Ref. WCAG 2.4.6)


The objective of the Homepage of a website is to allow the visitors to locate the desired information in the easiest possible manner. Homepages must be designed so as to prominently highlight the most requested information and services. Further, the homepage should provide an easy-to-identify section where the purpose of the website and the value to citizens is explained in terms which they can understand. Indian Government websites should ensure that all information, which is of direct importance to the citizen, is accessible from the Homepage itself.


Sighted users perceive structure and relationships through various visual cues present on a page (page headings are in a larger and bold font; list items are preceded by a bullet; form fields may be positioned as groups that share text labels; a different background color may be used to indicate related items and so on). However visually challenged users cannot take advantage of these cues. It must be ensured that these information and relationships are preserved even when the presentation format changes. (For example when the content is read by a screen reader or CSS is turned off or replaced).Therefore departments MUST ensure that Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text. (Ref. WCAG 1.3.1)


When the sequence in which content is presented affects its meaning, a correct reading sequence MUST be programmatically determined. This helps people who rely on assistive technologies like screen readers because the meaning evident in the sequencing of the information in the visual presentation will be the same when the content is presented in spoken form. This also preserves the meaning of the page when the CSS is turned off or not supported. It should be noted that a sequence is meaningful if change of order shall impact its meaning. Two independent content items like two separate articles in a page may be placed in any sequence without affecting the meaning. Similarly the navigation block and the content area may be placed in any sequence without affecting their meaning. (Ref. WCAG 1.3.2)