Dealing with organisational focused ia difficulties

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  1. 1. Online Information Service Pratap Dungrani
  2. 2. An unfortunate side effect of running a content management system is that it encourages information architecture built around organizational structure rather than users need. Most organizations CMS driven websites, their information architecture closely mirrors their internal structure. This is because it is easy to divide up responsibility for updating various parts of site if it is structured along departmental lines. The problem with this approach is that users do not think in terms of organizational structure. They are task focused and so often an organizational IA is entirely inappropriate. It leads to confusion and frustration among users.
  3. 3. 1. No Structure The most notable structural problem is when designers treat a site like one big swamp with no organizing principle for individual items. Yes, users can fish the swamp using search or by following links from current promotions or outside sites. But whatever they dredge up is it. No opportunities for understanding the site's other offerings or locating related items. This sin is common on news sites and catalog-based e- commerce sites, where each item (articles and products, respectively) is treated as a stand-alone unit without connections to related items. No wonder users leave those sites so quickly.
  4. 4. 2. Search and Structure Not Integrated Sadly, search and navigation fail to support each other on many sites. This problem is exacerbated by another common mistake: navigation designs that don't indicate the user's current location. That is, after users click a search result, they can't determine where they are in the site as when you're searching for pants and click on a pair, but then have no way to see more pants. We've long known that users often exhibit search-dominant behaviours. This doesn't mean that search is all they need, however. Arriving on a page from a search is like parachuting into a city. Hopefully, if you want to go to Paris, you'll land there rather than in Amsterdam, but in any case, you're unlikely to land on the doorstep of your favourite restaurant. To get there, you'll need to walk or take a cab. Similarly, users often need to navigate the neighbourhood around their search destination.
  5. 5. 3.Missing Category Landing Pages We recommend that sites have a series of categories that each link to their own landing page that gives users a section overview. Sometimes, sites forgot the overview page and simply offer links directly to individual pages within a section. This might reduce the number of site pages, but when no page is clearly identified as a sub-topic page, users can misunderstand the site's scope and miss important details, products, and services.
  6. 6. 4. Extreme Polyhierarchy Compared to the physical world, one of the online world's benefits is that items can live in multiple locations. Because websites can classify products and other content along multiple dimensions, they help users navigate locally to related items and provide faceted winnowing of a large product space into manageable shortlists that can satisfy the user's main requirements. This is all good, but polyhierarchy can easily become a crutch. Rather than spend time upfront to develop several intuitive and logical top-level categories, teams rush through this important process, creating numerous weak categories and listing products multiple times within them. The usability impact? Users spend too much time agonizing over top-level categories and then get confused when they see items showing up in multiple places ("are these the same thing?"). With too many classification options and too many structured dimensions, users are forced to think harder to move forward. The profusion of options also makes people question the information scent. This lack of confidence early in the site experience extends throughout their visit and can negatively impact the end result (by thwarting a purchase, for example).
  7. 7. 5. Invisible Navigation Options The very worst mistake might be to have no navigation, but that's so rare that I'm not going to discuss it. Still, any feature that users can't see might as well not exist; invisible navigation is thus nearly as bad as no navigation. Uncovering navigation shouldn't be a major task: Make it permanently visible on the page. Small children like minesweeping (passing the mouse around the screen to see what's hidden), but teenagers don't like it, and adults hate it. Similarly, you should avoid banner blindness bleed, when either the navigation itself looks like a banner or you place it next to elements that look like advertising and thus users screen it out. Even if it's on the screen, your navigation might as well be invisible if users don't look at it.
  8. 8. 6. Uncontrollable Navigation Elements Typically, anything that moves and bounces detracts from Web usability; when navigation moves while users are trying to find their way, it's deadly. Users should focus on the higher-level problem of where to go, not the lower-level problem of how to manipulate the GUI. Two common offenders here are overly sensitive rollovers that launch and block content, and elements that move, spin, or rotate of their own accord. Users routinely complain about these types of elements. Designers and programmers who include them in websites severely underestimate the business impact of user frustration.
  9. 9. 7. Made-Up Menu Options In the past, this mistake would have ranked higher, but luckily it's less predominant today than it used to be. Still, too many sites continue to make up their own terminology for labels and other navigation choices. In addition to perplexing users, made-up navigation terms also hurt search; users can't find something if they don't know what it's called. Even if you provide synonyms, the main navigation terms carry extra SEO weight and it's a waste to optimize for a query that nobody will issue. Old words are better. When users understand their choices, they're more likely to pick the right one. Speak plainly and speak simply. If users don't understand a menu item, they're less likely to click on it. Paradoxically, companies are particularly prone to making up fancy terms for their newest and most important offerings, thus shooting themselves in the foot with a double-barreled rifle.
  10. 10. 8. Misguided Information Architecture: Too Many Parents Too many parents confuses small children and website users. Frequently, youll stumble across websites that will make the crucial mistake of including too many parent pages on their main navigation. A parent page is a broad category page that other pages, commonly referred to as subpages, reside underneath in a sites navigational structure. Parent pages tend to be the pages used on the main navigation. These parent (broad category) pages help users quickly navigate to section of the site that they are most likely to find the information they seek. Unfortunately, some site administrators feel the more parent page choices in the main navigation the better the chance the user will find his/her way. This is not the case. Too many options creates confusion and indecision
  11. 11. Best practice: A soft rule of thumb is to include only 4 to 7 parent pages in the main navigation, sorting all other pages under these broader buckets.
  12. 12. 9. Navigational Irresponsibility: Creating Orphans Orphans can tug the heart strings of each of us, but especially site administrators. A common pet peeve for site administrators are abandoned pages, ones left out in the wind without a link to or from their existence. These pages are known as orphan pages. Orphan pages are often created when an intranet is redesigned rendering some of the old pages useless on new website. Other times, orphan pages are created unknowingly by multiple content managers and administrators.
  13. 13. Continue Instead of tying these orphan pages into the new navigation, under a parent page, they are left out in the abyss only to be found again by users with the page bookmarked or found randomly through search. Orphan pages can be easily overlooked or forgotten with the excitement of building a new website, but is critically important to correct this issue. The integrity of your information architecture and ensuring your users are able to navigate to the most current and relevant information on your site depend on it.
  14. 14. Best Practice: Ensure redirects are instituted for any soon-to-be abandoned page due to a site redesign/re-architecture. Second, put provisions in place to require mandatory parent page or hierarchical page nesting for creating new pages.
  15. 15. 10. Information Architecture OCD: Deep Sea Fishing Deep sea fishing can be fun in the ocean, but burying your content in the depths of the sea is not recommended. Sub-sectioning larger topics into smaller pages makes information more easily digestible; however, proceed with caution. Ive worked with many clients that become lost in the weeds dividing topics from a Parent Page > to: Subpage 1 (Level 1) > Subpage 2 (Level 2) > () Subpage 8 (Level 8) > Subpage 9 (Level 9) and before you know it your site has 10 different navigation levels.
  16. 16. Continue..... You cannot expect users to find the information they require by navigating through 10 levels of navigation. Solution of point 10 Best Practice: A common best practice for most public websites, which can also be applied to intranet site, is to limit yourself to a maximum of 5 levels of navigation.
  17. 17. 11. Navigation Quandary: Inconsistent Page Titles Everybody like a good puzzle, but they dont want to solve the mystery of changing page titles on your intranet. Inconsistency in menu navigation title and the page title can keep your users