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What Is an Information Model?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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An information model is used by software engineers and website designers to build an effective platform that is easy to use and navigate. If the engineer or designer fails to build an information model or creates a poor one, then many users will find the website or program lacks intuitive features and the navigation may be sloppy, causing users to become frustrated. Most of these models are built in a hierarchy, with the main domain at the top and deeper domains at the bottom. Engineers must plan for what the user wants out of a program or website to make it effective.

Software engineers and website designers can start from scratch and create a program or website without any plan or model. This approach, however, is more likely to lead to errors, both during development and during use of the final product. Typically, if no information model is used before building the product, then the website or program will be hard to use; it will be difficult to go back and forth between pages, users will be frustrated when find information, and there will be poor organization of tools or data. For these reasons, creating an informational model before construction is recommended.

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The information model is built on a hierarchy schema, and the complexity of the model depends on the product and how many features the programmer is adding. At the top of the model rests the main domain, from which other features and sections will be mapped. Information models are very different for websites and programs, because of the different aspects involved in each.

With a website information model, different pages and topics are mapped. The top of the model would be the home page, with other pages coming in lower levels. A diagram would show how each page interacts, and the features on each page — such as articles and categories — also would be added to the model. Features that would be present on every page, such as a navigational bar or search function, would be added to the model.

A model for a program also would have pages and sections mapped in the model, but other aspects also would have to be added. Most programs have many variables and table names, so these factors need to be mapped to ensure that the spelling of each factor is correct and that no factors accidentally overlap. This also will help the programmer understand how each section of the program interacts with the others.

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