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Organize Your Content: Information Architecture

Organize Your Content: Information Architecture

Information Architecture (IA) refers to the organization of content on a website. "Good" IA helps users navigate the site quickly to find the information they need. As you are reviewing your site, and try to reorganize some of the material, consider the following best practices:

  • Place information where site users will intuitively look to find it
  • Organize the content based on tasks, not roles
  • Create navigation labels that will make sense to the end user, not the internal staff

Create a hierarchy - Sitemaps

     Look at all the information you provide today and also think of future content you might want to offer on your site and organize it in logical groupings. It helps to draw pictures of boxes that represent pages on the site, and arrows to show their relationship and hierarchy. ACS has provided you with some basic content infrastructure templates, called information architecture sitemaps, to get you started. To see how these would translate to a website, look at the three templates we have created for you to choose from. The global navigation at the top or on the left side is represented by the boxes on the sitemap.Group like things together, and think how your users might try to locate information on your site. Some things to keep in mind as you go through this exercise:

  • Think of a website as a pyramid structure, where the Home page is at the top, and then it expands horizontally and vertically.

  • Group information by task, not by role. For example, don’t group content for graduate students under a heading called “For Graduate Students”, but group it by what people come to the site to do: register for a meeting (under Meetings), find a job (under Careers), and so on.

  • As you group information together, think of labels (link titles) for your global navigation (i.e. About Us, Meetings, Careers, Volunteer opportunities, Awards, etc.) that best describe each of these groupings. The sitemap samples we created give you some of the basic global navigation links that seem to be most useful to you and your users. Feel free to modify these options. You can rename, remove them, or also add new pages as needed, but be aware that not all pages can exist in the global navigation without there being spill-over. You might need to rearrange a few things.
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