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What is Information Architecture and How Can It Help My Website?

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This presentation discusses how Information Architecture (IA) is basically a blueprint for your website. We discuss how to develop an IA and how IA can help your website perform better by helping your …

This presentation discusses how Information Architecture (IA) is basically a blueprint for your website. We discuss how to develop an IA and how IA can help your website perform better by helping your users find content more easily and be more user friendly in general.

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  • Photo by Murray Thompson. Creative commons license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/murdocke/4299568381/
  • Photo by Will Scullin. Creative commons license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wscullin/3770015991/
  • Photo by Brenda Anderson. Creative commons license at http://www.flickr.com/photos/curiouskiwi/464625408/
  • Image is a screen shot of the usability test video
  • Photo by Jimmy Smith
  • Transcript

    • 1.
    • 2. What is Information Architecture
      and How Can It Help My Website?
      SORT 2011
      Jimmy Smith
      PM for Seminary and Institute Websites
    • 3. Good Information ArchitectureLeads to…
      Increased usage of site
      Greater findability
      From external search engines
      And internal search and navigation
      Improved conversation rates
      Better overall site performance
      Microsoft clipart
    • 4. Agenda
      What is Information Architecture (IA)?
      Why is IA Important?
      IA’s impact on Findability and SEO
      Case Study: The Educator (si.lds.org)
      Recommendations for the Road
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 5. Information Architecture Defined
      Information architecture (IA), as it applies to the Internet, is the way in which content on a website is organized.
      The term “information architecture” is attributed to Richard Saul Wurman who called it “the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly principles to make something work–the thoughtful making of either artifact, or idea, or policy that informs because it is clear.”
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 6. Information Architecture Illustrated
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 7. Think of Information Architecture as the Blueprint for your Website
      Photo by Will Scullin
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 8. IA = Blueprint:Everything (now/future) has a place
      Kitchen
      Stove
      Refrigerator
      Sink
      Bedroom
      Bed
      Dresser
      Living Room
      Couch
      TV
      Bathroom
      Shower
      Sink
      Toilet
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 9. You Wouldn’t Start ConstructionWithout a Blueprint
      “One of the biggest and most common mistakes made when building websites is when graphic designers go straight to [a] graphics program and start designing. This is like a construction company starting to construct a building without a blueprint…Bad information architecture will cripple your [website].”
      When Search Meets Web Usability, by Shari Thurow and Nick Musica, p. 137
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 10. Job of the Information Architect
      To get users to the information, tool, or feature
      Usually in the most direct and simple way
      IA helps users find information through…
      Site navigation/menus
      Information display (headlines, links, buttons, etc.)
      Knowing where they are on a site
      Knowing options of where they can go
      In absence of true Info Architect, who does it?
      Product manager or others can take on IA role
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 11. Agenda
      What is Information Architecture (IA)?
      Why is IA Important?
      IA’s impact on Findability and SEO
      Case Study: The Educator (si.lds.org)
      Recommendations
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 12. IA Is Vital to Usability, Findability
      Prerequisite to website success = audience finding content, features, and other info.
      IA contributes to usability through:
      Findability
      Organizing content so users can easily find it
      Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
      Site navigation/menus
      We’ll discuss in the case study
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 13. Other Benefits of IA:Clarity, Order, Accountability
      Enables clear communications
      Helps get your house/website in order
      “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.”
      Doctrine and Covenants 132:8
      Provides sound footing for performance accountability
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 14. Order and Accountability:Seminary Site Example
      A colleague once mentioned that the Seminary site only has about a dozen pages
      Google thinks the Seminary site has 2,620 pages
      Need to work out this discrepancy for clear communication and accountability
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 15. Consequences of Poor IA
      Makes information hard to understand
      Slows down users
      Prevents users from achieving objectives
      Reduces search engine visibility
      Increases site abandonment
      Reduces access to information
      “do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel” (Matt 5: 15)
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 16. IA Problems Documented to Cause Half of All Usability Issues
      “Bad IA is now the greatest cause of task failures because it’s the stumbling block for getting anywhere on a site. Users try to find their way around a site, and if they’re particularly motivated, they might even try again if they fail. But if users are repeatedly led in circles or dumped into no-man’s land by weak search, they give up and leave for another site. That’s why deficiencies in your IA are costing you a lot.”
      see Jakob Nielsen, IA Task Failures Remain Costly: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ia-failures.html
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 17. Agenda
      What is Information Architecture (IA)?
      Why is IA Important?
      IA’s impact on Findability and SEO
      Case Study: The Educator (si.lds.org)
      Recommendations
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 18. Findability: Information Foraging Theory and Information Scent
      Photo by Brenda Anderson
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 19. Information Scent
      Analogy is a reference to animals seeking food
      Comparison to how humans seek information online
      Refers to the extent to which users can predict what’s ahead (in a link or in an article)
      In titles and links helps visitors find what they are looking for
      Users will feel duped if they don’t get sufficient payoff from going down a path
      Read more on Information Scent
      http://nowmediamarketing.com/usability/information-scent/
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 20. Information Scent Says:You’re Getting Closer
      Helps visitors know that your site is fertile hunting grounds for the things they are looking for.
      Closer they get, stronger the information scent
      Deception, intentional or not, leads to abandonment
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 21. IA Impacts Search Engines’View of Your Site
      Search engines index (scan) your site hierarchically
      Pages higher in the hierarchy are given more weight
      SEs also make note of silos of info and relationships
      Well architected site makes information more findable
      Most Weight
      Least Weight
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 22. IA Impacts Search Engines: e.g. Ranking ‘Mormon’ and Derivatives
      Good IA will help you rank for…
      Head (frequent, short, generic) keywords
      Tail (long, specific) keyword phrases
      ~95% of search keywords
      The head and the tail compliment each other
      Head Keywords
      Tail Keywords
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 23. Sitemaps: Communicate Hierarchy, Weight, and What’s Available
      XML
      Submit to search engines
      Vital for search engines to understand your site
      HTML
      For real users (SEs crawls them too)
      Vital for you and users to understand your site
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 24. Site Navand Menus that Reflect IA Lead to Greater Findability
      Helps visitors know what’s available and find what they are looking for.
      Tells visitors where they are within the site
      Tells visitors how to use the siteby quickly communicating features
      Gives visitors a reference point
      Orientation and way to others areas of site
      Site nav and menus communicate IA to SEs
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 25. Agenda
      What is Information Architecture (IA)?
      Why is IA Important?
      IA’s impact on Findability and SEO
      Case Study: The Educator (si.lds.org)
      Recommendations
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 26. Original Information Architecture
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 27. Original IA/Menus in The Educator
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 28. Decided to Conduct Usability Tests
      Concerns with old IA, but needed data
      “Testing reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do, knows what you know, uses the Web the way you do.” (Krug p. 134)
      Usability tests not as hard as you might think
      Discount Usability Tests
      http://nowmediamarketing.com/usability/discount-usability-tests/
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 29. Usability Test Findings:Pattern of Poor IA/Poor Info Scent
      Check all main menu items.
      Click item that seems closest fit.
      Dead end. Use site search.
      Search unproductive.
      Rinse. Repeat.
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 30. Positive Findings from Educator Usability Tests
      Good info scent, and good findability for…
      “Prepare a Lesson”
      “Talks for Teachers”
      Found “Charted Course” talk quickly and easily
      “Potential Student Tracking”
      “Attendance Report for Units”
      “Newsroom”
      In menu and on home page
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 31. Creating a New IA
      Usability tests were compelling
      Started with a card sort
      We started with good old fashioned Post-it notes
      Could use card sorting software
      Card sort inputs: Major tasks gleaned from
      Keyword research
      Popular pages (from web analytics reports)
      Business priority features
      Microsoft Clipart
    • 32. Photo by Jimmy Smith
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 33. Photo by Jimmy Smith
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 34. Card Sort Implications onTop Level Site Navigation
      Tried to limit lists to 5 – 7
      “Seven, Plus or Minus Two” rule of thumb
      cognitive psychologist George A. Miller
      Labels for the categories were key
      Short (one or two words)
      Enough, and accurate, information scent
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 35. Next Step: Survey Real UsersQualtrics (lds.qualtrics.com)
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 36. Survey results confirmed some decisions, caused us to rethink others
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 37. New and Improved IA
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 38. What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 39. What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 40. What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 41. What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 42. What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 43. Results of New IA on Educator
      More user friendly navigation/menus
      Increased findability
      Get what you need quickly and easily
      Improved home page
      A place for featured content
      Not a replica of the menu with long lists
      Improved site performance
      Not perfect.
      Still testing, measuring, improving.
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 44. User Comments onNew IA for The Educator
      “Everything is so accessible, no layers to find what you're looking for... It is quick and easy to use and I love it!”
      “Outstanding... easy to find the material.”
      “This is really a wonderful new format and makes one alert and attentive to all that is offered by CES.”
      “The newest S&I Website is so user friendly--everything important is easily accessed…I am so happy with it!”
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 45. User Comments onNew IA for The Educator
      “Great site! I find it easy to use and a helpful resource.”
      “This new site is amazing. It takes all the different places I use to have to go to and puts them all in one place. I now have it as my home page.”
      “I love how everything is under this site... I don't have to have a tab for CSTAR, a tab for paymentnet, a tab for PST, etc... It's all there... Thank you.”
      “The changes to the SI site make things much easier to find. Thanks.”
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 46. Agenda
      What is Information Architecture (IA)?
      Why is IA Important?
      IA’s impact on Findability and SEO
      Case Study: The Educator (si.lds.org)
      Recommendations
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 47. 1. Every Website Should Architect Their Information
      Studies show only 25% of websites employ a information architect
      So what do the other 75% of us do?
      At the Church, I recommend that the website product manager take on the role of IA
      with input from the business, IxD, Web analytics, SEO team, and other usability specialists
      Given a little training in IA principles, teams can learn the basics and achieve great results
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 48. 2. Base IA Decisions in Data
      Avoid Arbitrary IA decisions
      Use data from Research and Revelation
      Web analytics
      SEO
      Usability
      Guesses, even educated guesses, have proven to be a 50/50 shot at best.
      A little data goes a long way
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 49. 3. Use Free Tools
      Qualtrics Web Surveys
      Church has unlimited account (lds.qualtrics.com)
      Post-it Notes
      Not exactly free, but pretty close
      OptimalSort (card sort software)
      Church has account
      Omniture Test and Target
      A/B and multivariate testing
      Usability test early and often
      Silverback is good and cheap
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 50. 4. Future Proof Your IA
      Try to envision future site changes and make the IA resilient
      Will help site remain stable despite new content, new features, new strategic direction, or simply growth over time
      House blueprint analogy: anything you may get in the future will need a home.
      Studies show task-based IA works best for long-term longevity
      See Intranet Information Architecture by NN/g, http://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet/ia
      Microsoft Clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 51. 5. Use Words Rich in Information Scent
      Headlines, hyperlinks, nav/menus…
      Keep it short
      Avoid buzz words and made up words
      Understandable out of context
      Predictable
      So users know what’s on the other side
      Front load keywords
      “videos for classrooms” not “classroom videos”
      “reimbursement policy” not "understanding the reimbursement policy"
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 52. 6. IA “Before the DesignerTouches the Canvas”
      “Information architecture requires a significant amount of hours of research and discovery long before the designer touches the canvas with their interactive tools. Eliminating this step will create a website that is not targeted to any research or your audience, a site that’s not user-friendly and lacks strategy.”
      See Jeff Roberts from Moiré Marketing Blog, Information Architecture: The most important part of a website: http://www.moiremarketing.com/blog/information-architecture-most-important-part-website
      Microsoft clipart
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 53. 7. IA should be reflected in navigation and URL structure
      Navigation reflects IA
      Doesn’t necessarily have to perfectly align, but get as close as possible
      URL structure reflects IA
      Mysite.com = highest level IA
      Mysite.com/level1 = main menu level of IA
      Mysite.com/level1/level2 = second level of IA
      Sometimes an item is so popular, even though it is a level or two down in the IA, you may want to put it as a top level nav choice.
      What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
    • 54. The End
      Questions?
      Contact me, Jimmy Smith
      smithjr@ldschurch.org
      801-240-4264
      I’ll post these slides on my website
      www.NowMediaMarketing.com