Hello, this is Brian Lewis and I’m here today to talk about information architecture. I’d like to share how information architecture can create can an effective user experience with your website navigation and site map. Sounds like a very complex topic. Some of you may have heard of it. Some of you may know what it is. Some of you may never have heard of that before. So let’s kind of drill down into what information architecture really is.
Information Architecture (IA)
I think the best place to start is – you’ve probably walked into a store before and needed to look for something very specific. And well, let’s say like a Home Depot, which by the way, they’re very good, maybe not be the best example for this but they’re very good at labeling their aisle. But let’s assume that you’re not looking at the aisles and you’re trying to find a particular thing and you’re going up and down all the aisles and it’s a very frustrating experience. That’s why stores like Home Depot do such a good job of trying to guide you in the right direction, so that you don’t have to go up and down the aisles. Websites should do the same thing.
When I land on your site as a visitor, I have a particular intent in mind. I’m not there just to look at your site and say, “Wow, this looks cool,” or necessarily just to browse around. For the most part, your visitors have a very specific intent of area agenda and very limited patience. So your job as web marketer is to do as good a job as possible to guide them down the path they want to go. And the way they’re going to do that is through what’s called information architecture.
Now, information architecture – the actual output of information architecture – is all going to be more familiar to you and that is a site map. So when we’re done doing the process of information architecture, we actually have a site map, whether that’s a traditional site map that’s got all the pages in the links, or a list of pages of the links, or whether it’s your top navigation – an illustration of what your top navigation is going to be. Information architecture is the process of identifying all the content that’s going to be on your site or that’s currently on your site and how are we going to organize that content and how are we going to label that content so it makes sense for your visitors.
So it’s logical and intuitive for your visitors – not for you as a marketer. And I see this a lot; I see a lot of clients that they say, “You know, I want my visitors to read my blog because we have some great content in there.” And they’ll put the Blog as the very first nav element. And the reality is, if they did visitor profiling, they’d see that very few if any of the visitors care about the blog. The visitors to a particular site want to go there and, again, they want to accomplish a particular task. The blog might be secondary to them or maybe even lower than that. Well, what we need to do is identify what’s important to your visitors. Do some visitor profiling by identifying the different types of visitors that come to your site, what are their motivations, what are their concerns? And then put your navigation in the order that’s going to work best for them.
We have also then talked about labeling. We see this occasionally too, where the labeling – there could be two problems of labeling: One is that it may not be entirely clear as to what it really means. So visitors going to look at that and say, “What happens when I click on that?” and that little bit of doubt is going to prevent a lot of visitors from clicking on it. So think about that target page – does that link? And now we’re talking about really any link on the page, link or button does that really set the proper expectation for where that person’s going or is it unclear or will they be surprised when they actually land on the page and think, “Wow, I thought I was going to a page on pricing. There’s no pricing information here, they’re just trying to dodge all this and they try to trick me into coming to this page and now I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of trust with this company.”
So we want to talk about – we want to make sure that what’s important is the order for the information architecture and the labeling. Those are the two main things that, if you keep that in mind when you’re putting your navigation together, your sitemap together, you’ll have a much more effective visit experience for your visitors. So that’s it on information architecture.
Again, this is Brian Lewis. If you have questions about your website site navigation, please feel free to contact our team at TinyFrog and we can help. Thank you very much.