You know you're on a good site when you find things where you expect them to be, know where you are, can easily navigate the pages, and understand your options.
This smooth experience comes about through extensive consultation, planning, and information architecture.
Underpinning user experience
The term 'information architecture', or IA, is used in user experience website design circles. It refers to the task of organising webpages (that is to say, a website's content) into a logical structure, as a clear, accessible means of navigating the website.
Tree of knowledge
This structure usually looks a bit like a stylised tree, much like a family tree. Similar content is grouped together in a way that will make sense to the user first and foremost. The user should determine the structure, not the way the business is organised or by the strong opinions within it.
Getting to grips with the issues
The process of investigating, creating and agreeing a structure helps those involved understand many aspects of their website and their business needs. Things like business structure, content provision, terminology, importance, relevance, priority, workflow, all feed into the IA.
The core of a good website
- illustrates content need and responsibility
- puts content in a logical place
- defines navigational structure
- defines website boundaries
- helps with terminology
- allows for future needs
- gets business buy-in.