Information Architecture Essentials: Best Practices for Organizing Your Site’s Content

Taught at: User Interface 13. Cambridge, MA
Workshop date:

Is your web site chaos, completely without organization or structure? Do users get lost finding the content they’re looking for? Are you having difficulty deciding where to put hard-to-classify content?

To help designers and information architects solve these types of problems, we’ve turned to Donna (Maurer) Spencer, a world-renowned expert on information architecture theory and practice.

Information architecture problems aren’t just happening to you. It’s happening at companies everywhere.

For example:

  • The intranet of a large East coast medical school has thousands of pages of information intended for the hundreds of doctors, nurses, and technicians who work at the hospital. The system is expanding at a rate of 5,000 pages per month. Unfortunately, the hospital employees find that the system grows less and less useful everyday, as it becomes harder to find things.
  • A design team for a major sports equipment manufacturer is constantly under pressure from upper management to make the site “innovative and cutting edge.” All of this pressure is focusing the team on fancy animation and emotive marketing phrases and away from providing the content in a logical and organized fashion.

With hard work and solid information architecture practices, you can solve these problems and dramatically increase the productivity and profitability of your organization. In this seminar, Donna will provide you with a complete grounding in information architecture. You will learn:

  • How to build designs that help users find what they want. Donna will provide a solid grounding in information architecture and share a robust process for organizing the content on your site. You’ll also learn the basics of IA, including how to outline the main goals for your design projects.
  • How to organize your site into organizational schemes. You will learn techniques for deriving the major content sections for your site. You will also learn how to choose the right organization scheme for your content.
  • How to conduct solid user research to develop your information architecture. Donna will share the most important user research techniques when designing your IA. It turns out that the user research you’ll conduct to develop an IA, is different than techniques for other User Experience work.
  • How to conduct a card sorting exercise. You’ll learn how to use card sorting, an invaluable technique for gathering user data, to design your site’s IA.
  • How core IA theories, such as metadata, classification, and categorization, can impact your site’s success. By having a firm understanding of IA theory, you’ll have the knowledge necessary to organize your content effectively for users.
  • How to design effective navigation and page layouts. Donna will deconstruct the designs of successful and unsuccessful web sites, and share best practices for designing the navigation elements and page layouts.
  • How to conduct a content analysis and develop a solid IA structure. You will learn how to conduct an in-depth content analysis. Donna will also show you how to take advantage of IA structures, including hierarchies, database structures, and topic maps.

In addition, throughout the day, you’ll have the opportunity to apply the skills you’ve learned by designing the information architecture for a web site.

Who Should Attend

This seminar is perfect for people who have responsibility for large web sites, including Information Architects, Product Managers, Web Site Producers, Communication Managers, Marketing Managers, and Graphic Designers. If, after going through several iterations on your site’s organization, you currently think your site is a mess with countless pages, all designed differently, then this session is for you.

In addition to hearing all of the great insights from Donna, you will receive a detailed seminar notes booklet, including a comprehensive reading list and many examples of the IA principles Donna covers.

Attendee comments from this workshop

“The resource lists are incredible”

“Great stuff – this made the conference”

“Classifying users of site by audience. Awesome discussion on that”

“It was my first real intro to IA so the seminar as a whole was valuable”

“It reinforced some tools that my team is already using but also gave me a more formal method.”

“Great overall coverage of fundemental IA best practices. As someone new to the field, this was very helpful”

“Donna is an all-around great presenter and expert in her field”

“Kept if fun and energetic involving the audience. Really open to taking and answering questions”

“Donna is very good at prioritizing and addressing the most difficult aspects. She doesn’t try to unrealistically teach that there is only one right way”