Creating a new website can be a daunting task, especially when you don’t know where to begin. You might have an idea of what message you want to communicate, (heck you’re an expert at doing what you do), but thinking about the different ways to group your pages, content or navigation can become quite complex.
Today we’re going to explore an easy way to organize the structure of your new website so that your customers can find the information they need, in a logical, intuitive way.
What you need to know
Information architecture (IA), the method though which you can organize, structure and label your content in order to help visitors (users) find information or complete tasks on your website.
The User Journey:
The user journey is the path through which your customers navigate your site to meet their sought-after goal. There are usually a few different journeys per website, each depending on the user’s needs, one path might end with a subscription to your mailing list, while another might end with the purchase of a product. Regardless of the path they choose to take your website should provide a clear, streamlined process by presenting the right information, at the right time.
The process: Card sorting
For the purpose of this article, we are going to share a method that we have used many times to help our customers create the structures of their website. This process is called Card Sorting and all you need is a stack of index cards or post-it notes. Ultimately, the goal of any card sort is to improve the labeling, grouping and organization of information.
Start by writing a few words that summarize a piece of content or a user action on each card. Do this quickly and don’t give it too much thought for now. We also suggest you involve anyone else that is an important part of your business or organization in this exercise, as they will often offer additional insight or point out things you might’ve missed. This first step is helpful because it gives you a clearer picture of reactions and thought processes that a potential user might have.
Individual cards are not meant to serve as pages/menu items but should rather represent actions or information.
Don’t overthink it. Do this exercise quickly for best results & avoid using industry jargon that might be foreign to your customers.
It’s time to conduct a Card Sort. We recommend doing this with a colleague or your web designer because it's important to get different perspectives. As you go through the cards you’ve prepared begin to group them in a way that makes sense to you. Once you are done with a group of cards, get a different color card and write the title of that grouping on top of the stack. If necessary, go over this process a couple of times while keeping the user journey in mind. Remember that having a good solid structure & navigation is crucial for user experience.
Duplicates are not uncommon. Sometimes you want access to the same action i.e a booking widget from both the home page and the about me page
Leftover cards are not uncommon either, consider if this information is really crucial or if it could be absorbed into other categories.
Once you have completed sorting your cards, you can use this information to help you build a site map for your new website. The results of this exercise should help you visualize the required functionality of each page/section as well as help you define the navigation of your site.
Need professional help? Send us an email, we're happy to work with you on your new site's structure.