Web Navigation & Information Architecture
You might think of information architecture (IA) as the skeleton that holds a website together, but this isn’t quite accurate. IA is more like the DNA that tells the skeleton, along with everything else, how to grow and meld together. Good IA not only creates a user-friendly site, it creates a process of website development that is client- and developer-friendly. IA basically boils down to that old recipe for success: preparation.
Determining the purpose of your website is the first step in building successful IA. You should begin your web project by asking yourself:
- Why do I need a website?
- Who do I expect to visit my site?
- What is the purpose/mission of the website I want to develop?
- Who do I want to visit my site?
These are a few of the same questions that we ask our own clients. We want to know what everyone in the client's organization expects from their online presence. Our goal is always to identify all relevant audiences, the expectations of those audiences, and the goal of our client in addressing each audience.
The time we spend investigating and researching provides us with the building blocks we need to ensure that your site will flow smoothly and consistently. We understand that your site's users will browse your site longer and come back for more if their first experience is favorable.
Bad IA is all over the place. You may not think of it that way, but whenever you go to a site and can’t instantly see how to find what you want, you’re looking at bad IA. If you find your focus being drawn away by flashy graphics that have nothing to do with the content, you are face to face with bad IA. When you have clicked away from the home page and suddenly the navigation options are completely different, you are about to click yourself free of bad IA.
Our process is one of research, strategic thinking, and preparation. Before we build a site, we determine who will see it, what they want to see, why we are showing it to them, and where everything goes. The foundation get laids first; then we construct the building. Doing a good job here makes every other phase—including graphic design, layout, functionality, and testing—much easier.