Effective information architecture examples

We've collated six of the best examples of information architecture from across the web to inspire your next website project.

Getting the information architecture (IA) right is probably the single most important step in designing an effective website. A well-designed information architecture means your users can find the information they need. It provides the structure for your entire site, so you need to develop your IA early on in any website project.

A great IA is simple, not flashy. It’s a lot like plumbing, when it all works as it should, you don’t have to think about it. It’s only when something is wrong that you notice it. That means the best IAs don’t exactly ‘stand out’, they simply do their job extremely effectively.

The larger your website, the more important it is to get the information architecture right. Complex websites need an intuitive structure to make them navigable. That makes IA particularly important for institutions like universities, large charitable foundations, public bodies, museums and any organisations who’ve developed big digital estates over time.

To help you understand more about what makes for effective information architecture, and provide inspiration for your projects, we’ve collated some of the best information architectures from around the web.


Harvard University’s IA is well-structured, simple and clear. It presents the users initially with just six sections, making the site feel manageable. Clicking on a section reveals the next column, and in turn further columns after that, making deep navigation feel easy. It successfully makes a huge and complex website feel far less daunting. Subtle touches like hover states make it a pleasure to use.

Visit Harvard’s website to see their IA.

IA examples harvard

University of Sheffield

Sheffield’s IA is the definition of simple, yet effective. It has a slim appearance with only four sections in the top nav, but when these sections are opened up the navigation goes much deeper. There is a lot of content, but it is well-organised into logical sections that reflect what users are looking for, making it easy for them to find the information they need.

Visit the University of Sheffield’s website to see their IA.

IA examples Sheffield uni


Websites don’t get much bigger or more complex than gov.uk, the home of all government services and information for the UK. When it was created, gov.uk consolidated over 685 website domains across 312 different agencies and government organisations. With over 150,000 pages providing a wide range of services and information to 66 million people, it’s a major challenge from an information architecture perspective.

Gov.uk’s IA manages to organise this vast amount of information clearly and effectively. Organising parts of the navigation alphabetically is useful when breaking down such a large site, as it means you can find the section you need quickly. It’s a great example of prioritising simplicity and usability, delivering an accessible and effective solution. Yes, it’s not visually exciting, but it does that job it’s there to do perfectly. It’s also helpful to think about user psychology. People don’t often visit gov.uk for fun reasons; they might have a complicated issue that needs resolving or be in a stressed headspace. The clear content groupings take this into account and don’t complicate things more than necessary.

Visit gov.uk to see its IA.



E-commerce websites can also be large and complex when they must support a large product catalogue. IKEA’s huge range spans a wide range of products, and their IA does a great job of presenting what they offer effectively.

The IA provides different navigation options (search by room, or by product) to serve users who either know the product they are looking for, or need inspiration for what to do with their room. It’s a great example of offering a structure based on what the user needs, rather than reflecting internal systems.

Bringing imagery into the IA for shopping-related pages also makes it easier to see what you’re looking for at a glance. Clicking these top-level sections opens a secondary menu to go deeper. By splitting up the IA into stages in this way, the large range of options feels far less daunting than if it was presented sooner in the user’s journey.

Visit IKEA to see their IA

IA examples IKea

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research’s website serves a wide range of users with very different needs. Users include cancer patients looking for advice, volunteers looking to fundraise, and researchers looking for funding.

Designing an IA is much trickier when it has to serve a range of different user groups, yet Cancer Research’s IA serves all its different audiences effectively.

It addresses this challenge head-on, with sections like ‘Funding for researchers’ which cannot be confused with content designed for people researching their symptoms. The whole IA is set out with a clear logic that makes it easy to use and breaks down a large and complex site to surface a wide range of content.

Visit Cancer Research UK to see their IA.

Cancer research IA

British Museum

The British Museum is one of the oldest and most visited museums in the world, with a truly vast collection of objects. Over time it has developed a large digital estate, which its IA needs to make navigable and legible.

We designed this IA as part of our work delivering the British Museum’s website, so we’re marking our own homework here, but we felt this IA’s effectiveness meant it deserved a spot in our roundup of examples.

Like many effective IAs, the British Museum’s is simple and unflashy. It lets users get to key information with ease.

A frequent issue we see with other IAs is that they can reflect the organisation’s internal structure, rather than the best way of presenting the information to the user. There’s no hint of this problem with the British Museum’s IA, which is very clearly arranged around the user’s needs.

Visit the British Museum’s website to see their IA.

British Museum IA (1)

We hope these six examples give you some useful ideas for developing your website’s IA. If you want to learn more about how you can improve your website’s navigation, see our seven-step process for creating effective IAs. To get help from our team of experts with crafting the perfect IA for your website, see our content strategy service.