Website design organizing your information
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Website Design: Organizing your Information. Ninette Gironella Assistant Registrar New York University. What you do love and hate about websites?. Web Site Critiques. Hate Can’t find information Lack of attention to detail (typos, broken links, out of date, technical errors)

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Website Design: Organizing your Information

Ninette GironellaAssistant Registrar New York University


What you do love and hate about websites?

Web Site Critiques


Hate

Can’t find information

Lack of attention to detail (typos, broken links, out of date, technical errors)

Poor Design and Layout

Gratuitous “Bells and Whistles”

Not written for the external audience (Tone, acronyms and structure)

“Under Construction”

Violates Web accessibility guidelines

Love

Easy Navigation – Easy to find what you are looking for

Aesthetically pleasing

Cohesiveness

Conciseness

Consistency

Unique Identify

Useful

Successful communication of ideas

Meets Target Audience Needs

Summary


As information proliferates exponentially, usability is becoming the critical success factor for websites and software applications.


Information Architecture

The art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.


Information Architect….

  • The individual who organizes the patterns inherent in data, making the complex clear

  • A person who creates the structure or map of information which allows others to find their personal paths to knowledge

  • The emerging 21st century professional occupation addressing the needs of the age focused upon clarity, human understanding and the science of the organization of information.

    -- Richard Saul Wurman


Information ArchitectureGroundwork for a system that makes sense to users

  • Goals of the Site

  • Audiences

  • Scope of Content and Functionality

  • Grouping of Content and Functionality

  • Adaptability and Growth Potential


The Design behind the Design

Diagram from Jesse James Garett’s Elements of User Experience


Goals & Mission

  • What is the Mission of the Organization?

  • How does the website support the organizational mission?

  • Does the web medium force you to re-consider the organizations mission?

  • What is the scope of this project? Entire organization? Selected sub-sites? Expansion or re-organization of existing site?


Goals & Mission

  • What are the short term goals with respect to the website?

  • What are the long term goals?

  • How do you envision the website 1 to 2 years from now?

    Result: Mission and Goals statement for the website


Measuring Website Success

When defining goals also define how you will measure success. For example:


Measuring Website Success

  • Lower costs

    • Reduction in print costs

    • Reduction in phone calls for information

    • Reduction in staff data entry

  • Customer Service

    • meets audience needs

    • Customer feedback


Measuring Website Success

  • Improved Public Perception

    • User comments

    • Positive comparisons with similar sites

  • Site performance

    • Number of site hits and growth

    • Number of new users and repeat users

    • Usability testing


Measuring Website Success

  • Strategic Uses

    • Improved functionality

    • Increased market penetration (e.g. number of inquiries, new target audiences, increased donations)

  • Other goals and measurements as appropriate for your website mission


Intended AudiencesOne size does not fit all

  • Who are the most important audiences?

  • Other audiences? media, potential donors, other institutions, current & potential employees.

  • Differences between the most important audiences and the most frequent?


Intended AudiencesOne size does not fit all

  • Current interactions with your institution?

  • What will they want to do at your website? Why will they come? What will make them return?

    Result: Ranking of audiences and their most important information needs


Personas

Not“THE User”

But“One Particular User”


Personas

  • Archetype of your audiences

  • Helps focus on User Based Design

  • Humanizes your audience

  • Useful for later testing


Scenarios

Tell a story about each persona

  • What are her goals?

  • What is he looking for?

  • What are her tasks?


Identify Content

BIG challenge!!!!

Content is key

Content discussions include

  • known content

  • future content.


Content

  • How varied is your content?

  • How complex is your subject?

  • How do people find your content?

  • How much time do you have?

  • How much time/motivation do your users have?


Content Sources

  • Existing website – examine how the website is structured, not every page.


Content Sources

  • Brochures, viewbooks, catalogs, annual reports, etc.

  • Handbooks and procedure manuals

  • Newsletters and memoranda

  • Frontline people

  • Wish lists for future information


Grouping Information

The beginning of all understanding is classification.

-- Hayden White

Organization scheme shared characteristics of content itemsinfluences logical grouping

Organization structuretypes of relationships between content items and groups.


Why organize?

Organization scheme and structure drive the navigation systems

User driven: user should not need to know your institution’s administrative structure to find information

Good organization scheme and structure appear intuitive and assist navigation.


Exact

Alphabetical

Chronological

Geographic

Ambiguous

Topical

Task-Oriented

Audience-Specific

Metaphor-Driven

Organization Schemes

Websites frequently use a hybrid of schemes. Done poorly, this can confuse the user. If the integrity of each scheme is respected, it can be valuable.


Alphabetical


Geographical


Topical


Task-Oriented


Audience specific


Metaphor


Organization Systems

  • Exact - best for known item searching

  • Ambiguous

    • best for browsing and associative learning

    • users have a vaguely defined information need


Organizational Structures

  • Linear

  • Hierarchy

  • Hypertext

  • Database


Organization Systems

  • Organization structures influence how users navigate through organizational schemes

    • Linear

    • Intuitive hierarchy

    • Loose hypertextual scheme

    • Structured database approach


Hierarchy


Hypertext


Database


Navigation Systems

Hierarchical: main options on each page usually based on the website hierarchy.

  • Global: vertical and lateral movement throughout the site.

  • Local: specific to sub-site

  • Context: embedded links, quick links


Navigation Systems

Styles:

  • Bars (top, side, or bottom)

  • Pull-down menus

  • Table of Contents

  • Index

  • Guided Tour


DON’T overwhelm with too many navigation choices


Labeling

  • Represent larger chunks of information

    • Example: “Admissions Processing” is short-hand for prospecting, recruiting, conversion, etc., etc., etc., . . .

  • Communicate information efficiently

  • Good labels don’t take up too much of a page’s vertical space or a user’s cognitive space.


Types of Labels

Iconic Labels

Textual Labels


Label Usage

  • As links leading to content areas

  • As headings for content areas


Main, Home, Homepage

Search, Find, Browse

Contents, Table of Contents, Index

Contact, Contact Us

Help, FAQ

News, What’s New

About, About US

Familiar Web Labels


Labels

Keep labels consistent within the website

Scope Notes: brief description to acquaint user with the meaning. Particularly important when introducing iconic labels.


Labels

Good labeling appears intuitive but reflects a lot of planning and consideration of the audience

Avoid vague labels (“Cool”, “Stuff”)

Avoid self-centered labels


Labels

Avoid buzzwords and acronyms

Consider:

  • How will the user interpret your label?

  • Link Labels: what kind of information will the user expect the label to take them to?


Maintain Context

Provide clues so users know where they are

  • Consistent navigation schemes

  • Labels

  • Look and feel

  • Branding


Mystery Meat Navigation


Key Points to Consider

  • Mission and goals of your organization

  • Needs of your audience(s)

  • Content

    • Organizational scheme(s) – logical groupings

    • Organizational structures – relationships

  • Navigation Schemes

  • Labeling Systems


Selected Resources

  • iainstitute.org/

  • jjg.net/ia/

  • universalusability.com/

  • www.stcsig.org/usability/

  • www.useit.com/

  • alistapart.com/

  • www.shorewalker.com/

  • www.sitepoint.com/

  • websitesthatsuck.com/


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