Information architecture deals with structurally organising your website content so as to help visitors complete their tasks easily and efficiently. A website is said to have poor information architecture if the visitor cannot find what he is looking for within seconds and is facing a lot of problems trying to do anything on your website. It can be very frustrating to have to ‘hunt’ for information on the website. It is much better to have a systematically arranged easy to comprehend website.
Information architecture audit is as important as a content audit or the SEO audit. Bigger the website the more site architecture issues they would have as compared to smaller websites. You must have a proper plan as to what sort of content goes on the website, the hierarchy of all the content and also filter out the unnecessary things on your website. An audit would consist of going through a list of important things to ensure your information architecture is perfect.
There are quite a few misconceptions that stop people from creating a great information architecture. They are usually on the lines of the following:
- The planning is taking too long and it’s expensive, we should skip it.
- I like how this website looks, let’s organise it the same way.
- My designer/ member/ aunt thinks the architecture should be different
- This was not the original plan, it is too complicated, we want something simple.
Before you ask someone else to do the audit for you. Understand why you need to do it and what are the steps to do a great audit?
Information architecture when well done can actually help you make money with the increased traffic on the website. You do not want to overlook this step and then repent about things going wrong. Start with your content and not the design. Once that is in place, arrange the content on the website.
It is bad to just copy the look of another website. The template may work best for them with the kind of content they have. It is not necessary that it should work wonders for your website too.
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Once you have decided a particular design and content stick to it. It creates a huge mess to keep changing your views and likes about the website layout. You can not please everybody on how the website is presented. Most of the time it’s because of the indecisiveness of your actual goals. Limit the number of iterations your website is going to go through, it would save time and money.
Having established why an IA is required and how to overcome the setbacks we can move on to Information Architecture audit.
Checklist for an information architecture audit must have answers to the following questions:
- Does your website shine light on all the important business objectives?
- Is your site confusing?
- How long does a visitor take to find what he needs?
- Does your website have consistency in language and naming?
Tools you can use for Information architecture audit:
Find broken links via Xenu’s link Sleuth
Identify link building, backlinks, top pages and more by using: Open Site Explorer
For site task completion:
A combination of UX design tools such as Online card sorting and Tree sorting methods can also ensure a great overall experience a visitor would have on your website. Card sorting is based on how users would organise various cards into categories. Whereas tree sort is reverse card sorting where in you define the complete taxonomy. Tree sorting is used to find the items on the website and card sorting is how you would organise these items.
Card sorting can be done by the following:
Tree sorting tool:
Once changes are made have an eye for how it has affected your traffic via Google analytics.
For more on website planning, check out our ebook.
What do you think is essential for an information architecture audit? Let us know!
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