SES San Francisco 2010: Successful Information Architecture
We’re back after the lunch break with a session I’m really excited about: Successful Information Architecture. On the panel we have Shari Thurow and Eleanor Hong – moderated by Adam Audette. Let’s see what these three have to say about successful IA. Please also be sure to check out my introduction post on IA pitfalls I wrote a week ago.
OK – Adam Audette is not here so Bill Hunt takes over the moderation cause Adam didn’t make it. Anyways, first up is Shari. She starts by showing why – in her opinion – SEOs should care about good IA:
- Customers: If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’re gone.
- Brand value: People remember if your brand didn’t serve their needs.
- Design and development costs: How much time does it take in optimization vs. doing it right in the beginning?
- Costs in the long-run will be way higher if you have to re-do things.
- Minimize duplicate content delivery
- Website find-ability: Good IA will communicate about-ness.
Also remember: A proper IA ensures that a website will be findable via: Browsing, Searching and Asking. Also there are more reasons to care about IA: Crawl-ability, Indexation, rankings and appearance of search listings (like breadcrumb links, site links or headings within the snippets)
Next slide up shows, what IA is – according to most SEOs:
- PR Sculpting
- Server performance
- Parameter handling
- Interface (page design and layout)
Well… – according to Shari – it’s not! In reality there’s another way to actually build-up a good IA:
And this actually should happen before you do the technical IA, the process should be split-up. So you have to do the IA before the technical IA – and not mix-up those two. Her main concern is that most SEOs overdo it from a keyword perspective so you really should make sure that you carefully think about how you label your navigation, for example. Key take-aways:
- Establish IA long before a site is built
- Site architecture consists of IA and technical IA
- Make sure it is based on users mental model
And next-up is Eleanor, she works as in-house for abcNEWS.com and talks about the challenges she’s facing in the process re-doing and optimizing a news site.
- Know your content
- Challenge of user experience vs. business goals
- Importance of taxonomy and sitemaps
- User experience cannot be defined by corporate, marketing, design, etc. – each department will push their own agenda
- Query keywords are not the best navigation labels – And one important thing to remember: A good navigation is a start, but it doesn’t entirely define a site’s IA
- Sub-domains and micro-sites are not the solution; maybe good in the short-way to serve some kind of content but ultimately it’s more about solving the IA challenge
All right – that’s it for this session – be back in a bit for the next one.