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Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A crucial component of web design is information Architecture. According to the Information Architecture Institute, Information architecture is:

  • The structural design of shared information environments.
  • The art and science of organizing and labeling web sites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability.
  • An emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

This term means that the information presented to your website visitor needs to be in a structured fashion. This is because today’s average visitor is quite a busy individual. There is so little time to spare and so much pressure to accomplish the day’s targets that it becomes an essential job for you to provide the information in a manner in which visitors can understand.

Today, many visitors have only so much mental ability to figure out how to get around the site given the circumstances that exist in most workplaces today. If you are not able to design your website properly or present them with poor information architecture, you will burn up the visitor’s ability to grasp your website content while they try and grasp what you have tried to dish to their minds. Hence, avoiding poor IA is the right way forward to prevent website visitors from leaving your website prematurely.

This article will examine and explore the issues surrounding poor IA with a way to resolve them. Due to bad information architecture, many websites lose the ability to attract users at one end of the spectrum to causing user failures outright. These information architecture mistakes can cost websites billions of dollars each year.

Not Understanding the Website Audience

Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

If you sing jazz to a crowd wanting rock, you might not get the desired applause. In many ways, this mistake is the cardinal sin that many website designers commit. They do not look at the data right under their nose to understand the audience for whom their website is designed.

Solution: Creating a strategy that will offer the visitors a rich user experience will go a long way in helping you get along with your website audience.

Website without Any Structure

Imagine a building without a foundation or pillars. Many a times, designers treat a website like one big pool of information and do not include any organizing principle as part of their design. Yes, there are links and other navigational elements, but no opportunities are made to present the information in a structured approach. This type of unstructured architecture is commonly seen on a many sites such as news websites and even many catalog based e-commerce websites.

Solution: Crafting a website with a appropriate and suitable structure will go a long way to help you succeed in the online business.

Not Integrating Structure with Search

Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Many users exhibit “search-dominant” behavior. This means that they straightaway head for the search panel on the website and perform a search for whatever they are looking for. In many instances, they might not find what they are looking for, which may be due to mismatch between the structure and search. Hence, if you want to search for say, product A, you might be shown all sorts of options and products except product A. Alternatively; you might have to wade through a plethora of results in order to search for your favorite product A. Also, in many cases, search and navigation fail to support themselves on many sites.

Solution: A good suggestion is to include category pages and breadcrumbs. Hence, websites can have a series of categories that link to their own landing pages.

Poorly Integrating Sub-Sites and Micro-Sites with Main Site

Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Launching a micro site for your new product could sound great. Quite often, online marketing campaigns require the use of sub-sites or micro-sites adjunct to the main site. A dedicated micros-site could have sounded like a good marketing idea at the time of the launch of the marketing campaign. However, now that the marketing campaign is a thing of the past, the micro site still litters the web. The only function that it serves is to dilute the online presence of your main website and hog the limelight instead.

Solution: The idea of micro sites is now faded and outdated. Hence, additional information can be placed on a sub-site within the main site, which still needs to be properly integrated with the main site.

Including Inconsistent Navigation

Top Information Architecture Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Imagine reading a book that has placed all its chapters or pages haphazardly. The primary aim of navigation is to help people find their way through the website rather than being a complete puzzle. Hence, users should be in a position to understand navigation immediately. Changing the global navigation and other features as users move around is not a good IA technique. Utilize navigation as a direction finding feature so that users get to know where they can go and how they can easily come back to the top of the website should they ever lose their way. At the same time, including too many navigation techniques can also confuse the visitor. In case you have chosen one navigation technique over the other, then it is advisable to stick to that navigation itself instead of mixing up navigation techniques.

Solution: Avoid inconsistent navigation. Avoid jumbling up one navigation technique with others. Follow a structured approach.

Including Movable UI Elements

Imagine someone chasing you all day asking you to contribute a dollar to a relief fund. Well, it’s a similar experience if you have included movable UI elements to say, ask someone to like their post on social media. These kind of moving objects all around the screen only distract your attention and you need to better avoid them.

Solution: Stop chasing the reader. If the reader likes your stuff, a ‘like’ bar at the bottom of the article with social media links will suffice.

To summarize, the more innovative and grandiose stuff you tend to toss into your website could seriously disrupt your AI. There are established principles which exist, and its better you acquaint yourself well with these before starting out to design your website.

Jill Davenport is a prolific technical writer with Fusion Informatics. She abounds with creative ideas and enjoys writing strategic blogs on a wide spectrum IT related topics. Conversion Strategy and Usability are amongst her favorite topics. Get in touch with her on @JillDavenport_
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