Every business needs a digital presence. Digital is no longer optional in your strategic planning. Having a website is crucial to your business and enables you to connect and engage with your target audience 24/7. But having a poorly designed site that suffers from common usability problems can do significant damage to your brand and bottom line.
Once you understand what information architecture (IA) is, you may wonder why exactly it is that you need it, in order to have a successful site.
Is your customer service team spending most of their time answering questions that are directly answered on your website? Is your bounce rate far higher than it should it be? Is the most used function of your website the search bar? All of these common website usability problems are symptoms and signs of poor information architecture. Information architecture (IA) aims to connect users with the content that they are looking for, in a seamless and intuitive manner.
When looking to improve the searchability on your website or intranet or in your CMS or DAM, there are a few areas where you can look to solve searchability problems. This second part in a two-part series focuses on solving searchability problems.
When I talk with customers about website problems, I frequently hear the refrain: "Our website search is terrible. People tell us it sucks. We need to fix it." Or "I can't find anything on the website and the search doesn't give me what I am expecting." There are a few areas where we can look to fix search problems. Normally, I start with user interviews and testing, then move on to reviewing site analytics, metadata, and taxonomy.
What is information seeking and why is it important to your website? Information seeking matters to your information-heavy website because people will look for information for different reasons and different outcomes and in different ways. Those reasons and ways need to be supported by the way your website structures and displays information. In other words, the information architecture of a site needs to meet user needs!
On the surface, audience based navigation seems to make sense. In user-centred design, we design for the user. If we group information based on the different users we've identified, then the user will know where to look on the website. In my early days, I did once try my hand at audience based navigation and quickly learned a few things (and felt an immense amount of frustration).
You've probably heard that better user experience on a website is good for SEO, but what does that actually mean? There are a few specific ways information architecture and taxonomy improve SEO.
Maybe the website isn't well organized. Maybe users don't take the time to look through the website. Maybe users have had bad experiences in the past and can't be bothered to look on the website. Rest assured there are you can improve content findability with better website information architecture.