Information Architecture

Information Architecture

The Hierarchy of Your Information

If and when you have a good sense of what your business and audience goals are, it’s time to think about how to present your content in a way that is meaningful, intuitive, and scalable. Here are some considerations when reviewing your site menu and page content.

For an Effective menu

Rule 1: Consistent Navigation directly influences how easy it is for a user to complete their goals

Your site menu should be on every page and every page should be included in the site menu (few exceptions may apply). You should also use menu names that the audience will understand instead of jargon but be sure to be specific – take the guess work out of what content the menu item represents. In other words, be descriptive

Rule 2: The order of your website navigation makes a difference

Important items go first or last in the menu, it’s where our attention and retention are the highest. It’s a cool psychological effect called the serial position effect if you don’t believe me.

Rule 3: Think about potential growth area in your site

Did you build room for growth in your menu? Certain categories will grow over time so make sure you think about designing the menu and including menu names to build for scalability.

Rule 4: Go Minimalistic

Not every page needs to get top billing. Think about ways to group “like” content within a fixed amount of site sections (ie ways to group child pages under a fixed amount of parent pages). Research suggests 5-7 top-level menu items is a safe amount for usability. This is just a current best practice, which may not apply to you. The point is, less is more.


Content and Readability (Visual Hierarchy of Page Content)

Our audiences rely on the page hierarchy for clues on what content is available and where to go next. Give them a place as a starting point for reading.

A good visual hierarchy can be used to separate out your important elements from the less important ones.

Areas on top of the visual hierarchy are interpreted as most important. Check your site content, is the most important pieces of content easy to see or lower on the page?

Ask Yourself:

  • Is the important content for your audience in a significant position?
  • Do users need to try hard to locate the target information? Are there any elements can interfere vision and attention?

Want to test it? A fun exercise with photoshop! Screen-capture your digital product, then use Gaussian blur on the screenshot with a radius of around 5px. When looking at the result, you’ll instantly visualize the hierarchy and notice the elements stand out. Are those the most important for the business and user?

Categorize and group together similar or “like” content. Reduce cognitive friction by grouping related items/content within proximity of each other. Organize your content by Card Sorting First.

Don’t wall of text! Audiences have limited time and attention resources. A wall of text will be an immediate way to overload them!

Therefore: Make your content is scannable by

  1. Using short paragraphs
  2. Descriptive headings
  3. Lists
  4. images.

Avoid Jargon! If the text isn’t understandable to the user, do not expect to communicate with them.