Web Development

Using Information Architecture To Plan A New Website

Most people start a blog and only later start confronting the organizational structure. Obviously, content is king… so it definitely is important to create content.

But I want to suggest that your content will be a lot more effective, and flow more easily, if you take the time up front to organize your site’s conceptual structure and match it to navigational structure. This is called information architecture.

When you create “sections” of your site, you also create editorial expectations. Let’s say that you have a “How-To” section. Simply having a major section of your site titled “How To” will serve as an encouragement and reminder to produce how-to articles.

Over at the SeaWaves blog I wrote an article describing a specific instance of information architecture. It’s worth a look for a concrete example.

But here, I’d just like to describe the basic process of Information Architecture.

Step 1: Define the broad topic of your site

Step 2: Define 5-10 general categories that are collectively comprehensive enough to cover any topic you might write about. These will serve as the major sections of your site.

Step 3: For each general category, define one level of sub-categories

Step 4: Define relationships between information in the various general categories (some categories will have stronger relationships than others)

Step 5: Define relationships between information in the various sub-categories (intra and inter)

Step 6: Populate each category with content so that you can test the relationships you’ve defined

Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning A New Site/strong>

A) How will I highlight content throughout my site?
B) How will I show readers additional relevant information?
C) How can I make the categories on my site more than just content aggregators?
D) How can I present information to readers in the most captivating way possible?
E) How can I make navigation between sections as natural and smooth as possible?
F) How can I algorithmically relate information between categories in a useful way?

Author: ryancaldwell

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