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Category "information architecture"

 

What Is Strategy Really Worth?

By Nathan Moore
July 30, 2010
 

One of the things we practice at Anthology on a daily basis is strategy. Every decision that we make is intentionally executed to help our clients meet their goals. Websites are no longer just websites; they are marketing tools. Designs are no longer just designs; they are a conduit for effective communication.

It never ceases to amaze me how some companies and organizations think that having a website that was created using a “Website Wizard” will suffice for an online presence. Even when these groups hire a web company, many times, they go for the cheapest option and end up with a horrible template-based design with a logo thrown in the header. These solutions, though cheap, lack the thought and strategy that are crucial to a successful website.

When planning, designing, building, and implementing websites we usually ask two questions with every decision we make:

1. Why are we doing this?
2. What is best for the user and the client’s goals?

The answer to the first question, “Why are we doing this?” forces us to make intentional decisions to benefit the project as a whole. Many times, this also cuts out much of the “fat” that tends to weigh down many websites. If there is no point in having it, we remove it.

The second question, “What is best for the user and the client’s goals?” forces us to act in the best interest of the user and the client. This question arises frequently when we discuss how an interface should flow or what elements we can utilize to strategically draw the users’ attention. The result is an extremely usable website that meets the client’s goals.

However, strategy usually comes at a price. Cheaper solutions that are not driven by strategy are not the best fit for a successful web presence. Everything, from the navigation scheme to the design, needs to be done in an intentional manner to optimize impact and to make your website work for you. Otherwise, it is just wasted web space.

 
 

Tips To Creating Better Website Navigation

By Nathan Moore
October 07, 2008
 

Navigation should not be taken lightly since it is the most important interfacing utility on your website. Many times, people throw in whatever they think is important on the site. This is almost like going to the fridge and throwing together everything you like into one salad - it is just not effective and will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth.

1. Think

Navigation should be thought through carefully. When considering the top level navigation, it is usually better to cut out options than add them. Sit down with a pen and paper and map out each section and page that needs to be in the navigation (notice I did not say “that you want to be in the navigation”).

2. Prioritize

This fits hand-in-hand with the first tip. Determine the options in which your user will be most interested. What are the sections most used on your site? How do users flow through your site? Do they check one section first, then another? How can you arrange the navigation and options to improve the user experience?

3. Group

Try to group items into logical contexts. If it does not fit in the group, then it needs to go somewhere else. Many links live perfectly fine in the footer. Don’t think that every single section/link/page needs to be in the main navigation cascade.

4. Optimize

More times than not, the first stab at a navigation is not the most effective. Analyze your traffic flows and adjust accordingly. If you find that your users are not clicking on the “About Us” page, then it may be better to link to this page in the footer. You goal is to create the best navigation interface possible for the user. Give them what they need to make browsing the site most effective.

 
 

Information Architecture: Evaluate, Decipher, and Organize


June 17, 2008
 

There are many times in our lives that we look around and find ourselves overwhelmed. Occasionally those moments for me are when I am confronted with a lot of information at once. When these moments happen I tend to be reading directions or filling out forms.

Businesses spend so much of their focus on getting people to purchase their products but drop the ball when it comes to helping those customers use their products. Directions seems to be only an afterthought or at the most, minimally considered. There has to be a meeting of minds between businesses and designers about who needs to structure this information. While business should always keep their bottom line in mind, it benefits them to know their limitations. A good designer should be able to evaluate information given to them and decipher how to organize it so that users can follow it with ease.

We, as designers, need to remember that while creating posters and cd covers may be more fun than designing forms and directions, we have an opportunity to change tasks as frustrating as filling out forms and assembling furniture into an easy experience that people can walk away from with a smile. The tasks of a designer are expanding now more than ever. There needs to be an emphasis of the fact that the most successful designs are created with the smallest details in mind and to accomplish that you need a designer.