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

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

  • What is Information Architecture
    and How Can It Help My Website?
    SORT 2011
    Jimmy Smith
    PM for Seminary and Institute Websites
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Information Architecture Illustrated
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Original Information Architecture
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • Original IA/Menus in The Educator
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Photo by Jimmy Smith
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • Photo by Jimmy Smith
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • 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
  • Next Step: Survey Real UsersQualtrics (lds.qualtrics.com)
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • Survey results confirmed some decisions, caused us to rethink others
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • New and Improved IA
    What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • What is IA? | Why IA is Important | Impact on SEO | Educator Case Study | Recommendations
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The End
    Questions?
    Contact me, Jimmy Smith
    smithjr@ldschurch.org
    801-240-4264
    I’ll post these slides on my website
    www.NowMediaMarketing.com