When looking to improve the findability on your website or intranet or in your CMS or DAM, there are a few areas where you can look to diagnose and solve findability problems. To find these problems, you can do an expert review and user testing. This second part in a two-part series focuses on solving findability problems.
Addressing the Ranked Problems
In part one of this series, we discussed putting together the expert review and user testing in some sort of ranked list. This list can be ranked by the severity of the problem and the difficulty to solve the problem. Naturally, not all problems can be solved by an information architect but need to be done in collaboration with others. Here are some steps the information architect can take to resolve problems (insofar as possible).
While it can be really tempting to solve these problems yourself, I have some advice. Based on personal experience, I have found it better to start on projects like these with the buy-in and/or consent of others. Why? Because you never know who has worked on your site or in your content. By working on your own and then presenting a solution, instead of appearing as a genius, you might appear as very offensive. Collaborating with others will give you a good sense of history as well as who worked on these things. You can adjust the tone of your message to suit your audience.
In part one, we discussed users going down, or starting in, rabbit holes. When sites develop over time, content is added by non-content experts and content on the site becomes mis-categorized. It’s not organized according to a logical grouping that’s apparent to you (though it might have been apparent to someone else at some unknown point in time).
A site map is an easy place to start revising a site’s organization. Depending on the resources you have, you can start on a new site map yourself, or you can do card sorting with users to get further input. Your card sorting should focus around scenarios and your site map should support those scenarios.
In part one we asked some questions about the navigation supports. If you found problems with the navigation, here are some ways to solve it:
Global and Local Navigation
Make sure the global and local navigation use consistent granularity. For example, if you are on a Banking site, the global navigation might have Personal Banking and Business Banking. It should not have Personal Banking, Mortgages, Business Banking.
If you’re on a site that has a humongous amount of content, remember that not everything needs to be displayed in the global navigation. You can discover and show the more popular sections and give users a way to view all the content.
It always amazes me that sites don’t use related links to help users find content. While it may take another minute to add a related link, the usefulness to the user can be extraordinary. Related links support the information seeking process – they allow users to find more content without already knowing what content is available. This can be an easy win, though time-consuming to implement.
Metadata and Taxonomy
Metadata and taxonomy can be used in numerous ways to enhance findability.
- Metadata helps users find information with similar attributes
- Taxonomy helps users find information with the same or related topics
- Taxonomy can be used to aid navigation or act as navigation
- On a page, metadata and taxonomy can display related information or products
With different devices, one difficult information architecture problem is navigation. For a site with a lot of content (as in 1000’s of pages), the navigation experience on the small or medium screen can be quite different than on the large screen.
Information architects don’t program responsive or adaptive sights, but it’s extremely important to be familiar with the possibilities. Information architects do design navigation, so we need to be knowledgeable of the different navigation schemes for different size screens.
Is there a right way or wrong way? I hate to say it, but it depends! It depends on your content, how many levels of hierarchy, which parts the user needs access to at any one time. Knowing what content the personas are visiting on these different sized devices can go a long way to creating a cross-platform navigation strategy.
What to Know More?
If you’d like to know more, you can follow Key Pointe’s Company Page on LinkedIn or you can contact me for a free, one-on-one, 15 minute phone call to get a more solid understanding and direction to more resources.