Utilizing Information Architecture to Organize and Build a 20,000-Item Online Catalog for a Department Store

Da Roz Eletricidade β€’ 2018

CLIENT Da Roz Eletricidade Da Roz Eletricidade is a longstanding, traditional department store located in the countryside of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
ROLE Product Designer & Information Architect
TEAM Marina Carvalho, Project Manager

Introduction / Problem:

In the bustling world of retail, a department store with over 20,000 products faced a significant challenge: how to effectively organize and present their vast inventory online. The task was not just about creating a catalog but about understanding the consumer psyche, their search habits, and ensuring the online experience mirrored the in-store one. The goal was clear: to design a catalog website that was intuitive, user-friendly, and reflective of the store's organizational structure.


Our strategy was rooted in the principles of information architecture. Recognizing the importance of a solid foundation, we delved deep into frameworks like taxonomy, hierarchy, and clustering. The challenge was twofold: understanding the vast product range and aligning it with the consumer's search habits. We needed to ensure that the online catalog resonated with how consumers naturally referred to and searched for products.

Collaboration was key. We worked closely with department store workers, leveraging their insights into stock and storage, ensuring our digital representation was accurate. Stakeholder validation was equally crucial, ensuring our design decisions aligned with the store's broader objectives and vision.


  • Deep Dive into Products: Before any design work, we immersed ourselves in the product range, understanding each item's nuances.
  • Taxonomy & Hierarchy: We began categorizing products, creating a clear hierarchy. This structure was essential in guiding the website's navigation and user flow.
  • Consumer-Centric Clustering: Using insights into consumer habits, we clustered products in a way that mirrored how consumers thought about them.
  • Metadata Structure: With the categories in place, we designed a metadata structure for the catalog, ensuring products were easily searchable and identifiable.
  • Collaboration & Validation: Regular check-ins with store workers ensured our digital representation was accurate. Stakeholder meetings ensured alignment with the store's vision and objectives.


The end result was an extensive website that cataloged the department store's broad selection of products, but did so in a way that was intuitive and catered to the user. The website's structure, built on a foundation of good information architecture, made it effortless for customers to find what they were looking for - an experience that mirrored their in-store journey.

Website Home Page.
Website Home Page. Click to visit

Catalog Menu Layout
Catalog Menu Layout

Catalog Page
Catalog Page

Catalog Page
Catalog Page

Conclusion, Reflections & Learnings

The challenge of transforming a large department store's inventory into a unified online catalog was both demanding and insightful, bringing to light the intricate relationship between information architecture and user experience.

1. Collaboration is Key: As we learned, the importance of collaboration cannot be overstated. By engaging with store workers who were integral to the store's success, we gained meaningful insights that data simply could not provide. Their hands-on experience with the products and their deep knowledge of the inventory greatly enhanced our design process, ensuring that our digital representation was both realistic and practical.

2. The Nuances of Information Architecture: This project was a fascinating exploration into the complexities of information architecture. We gained an understanding of the importance of each component - from taxonomy to metadata - in creating a smooth user experience. It was a true testament to the fact that good design is not just about looks; it's about setting up systems that make it easy and enjoyable for people to interact with.

3. Stakeholder Engagement: Interacting regularly with our stakeholders reminded us of the need to make sure our design choices were in line with the bigger picture objectives. The invaluable feedback we received gave us a wider perspective, making sure our small-scale design choices were in line with the store's overall vision and ambitions.

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πŸš€ Stefano Tavanielli