Anyone can create a website to promote their products or services. But creating an effective, successful site takes planning and know-how. The payoff is that the best websites earn top real estate spaces on Google and turn random visitors into loyal customers.
How do these websites accomplish this? These well-designed sites provide an excellent user experience (UX) by offering well-constructed information architectures to make finding information quick and easy.
Information architecture (IA) is vital to UX design. It’s the way information is organized within website and mobile app structures to make it easy for the user to find exactly what they need in a minimal amount of time.
Creating a solid information architecture involves finding similar features in content, grouping common information objects, and adding internal links in documents to related documents on the same subject. Offering an optimized search utility for the site or app is also immensely helpful to users in finding the information they need fast. And everyone is in a hurry these days, aren’t they?
What do you need to consider to form a well-designed IA for a website or mobile app? At a high level, make sure you have the following:
- The information your users want.
- The content your website or app will offer.
- Your goals and any financial limitations.
By learning the basics of good IA, designers and developers will find it’s easy to construct highly successful user-friendly websites and apps. They will also find it easy to solve any issues that arise during the process.
In the early stages of development, you need a strategy for presenting your site or app’s information. It’s important to think of the data as a whole object and consider all its pros and cons. Then you’ll determine how to organize the different content objects and research how your users will interact with them. It’s important that the information is presented in the most efficient way possible for your visitors.
In creating pages for your website, it’s important to limit how many there are to just what is needed and no more. Giving users too many unnecessary options can often hurt their experience. Also, the more choices you give your visitors, the more time it takes for them to process the information they find and make decisions. Since your visitors are looking for a quick, easy experience, limiting options helps accomplish that.
It’s important to consider the amount of information you present to your visitors. It’s better to give visitors the information they’re looking for in a way that they can easily process. While it might be tempting to throw in as much information as possible and the kitchen sink too on a page, it’s not a good idea.
The best practice is to display only what’s necessary on a page for users to know what to anticipate next. It may be that there will be more information on the same page or they will be taken to the next page. But only give your visitors what they are able to assimilate.
Multiple Entry Points
When you go to your favorite store at the mall, there’s a main entrance at the front. There are usually a couple of other entry points for convenience. Websites are the same way. While the home page is your site’s main entrance, it shouldn’t the only entrance to your online presence.
Using multiple landing pages will not only increase the odds of visitors finding your site but many studies have shown they increase your site’s conversation rate.
Flexible Content Management
The longer a website exists, the greater the chances its content will change and grow over time. The trick is to prevent it from growing so complex and vast that it’s no longer user-friendly. Having a flexible content strategy is a must. By planning from the beginning how to keep your site scalable and sustainable is vital to its success.
Accounting for User Needs
In crafting your website, you’ll want to adapt its content to the anticipated behaviors and needs of its potential users. How will users find information on your site? How will they navigate it? It’s important to anticipate visitor behaviors, needs, scenarios, and tasks and plan accordingly. Give them the navigational tools they’ll need to use the site.
Incorporating IA in UX
The best and most effective websites have solid navigation, dynamic search utilities and efficient, well-planned information architectures.
Best practices to accomplish this include:
- Make the user’s experience a top priority.
- Research user behavior, expectations, and needs.
- Outline a product strategy to fulfill client expectations and goals.
- Define the website’s content components and tasks in the early planning stages.
- Outline and create an IA based on the website or app’s content.
- Use the established IA to craft the site’s navigation.
- Develop the visual presentation of the site or app and apply to your beta version.
A site’s IA is the backbone of the experience it provides users. It needs to be created before the site functionality is added. From there, information architects can produce sitemaps and craft a navigational system specifically for the site. Those who design a user’s experience can then implement it into their beta versions. The result is a top-quality, visually-appealing site that’s easy to use and that brings visitors back on a regular basis.
The best and most effective websites and apps are simple and easy to use. When visitors to such a site can find the information they want quickly and easily, they’re more likely to return to be loyal customers. When a strong user experience is paired with an effective IA, the result is a site with a lower bounce rate, a higher conversion rate, and perpetually strong rankings in the search engines. And that, my friends, is a successful website!