If you walk by our office and see a wall covered in Post-It notes, odds are we’re in the throes of an information logistics planning session.
Information Logistics is what we like to call it when we tackle content, UX, UI, and site architecture for a new project. By taking a birds-eye view and brain dumping onto a million brightly colored little squares, we end up with a product full of intuitive connections.
Most recently, we’ve been working on a refresh of our own website, starting with the information architecture. We made a list of questions a website should answer about its company:
- What are you?
- Why should I care?
- Who are you ?
- What do you do?
- Who have you worked with?
- What did you do for them?
- What are you working on?
- How much do you charge?
- Where are you?
- How do I contact you?
- What happens next?
- Where can I learn more?
The first step in one of our sessions is making sure we have answers to all of these questions! Some of them are easy–where are you?–but some of them get a lot deeper into the meat of who you are as a company. Why should I care? is a tougher one. Your best bet to answering these well is to try on your customer’s shoes. Talk it out with your team. You’ll all bring slightly different ideas to the table, and some melange of them all is likely to be the sweet spot that truly hits on your company’s identity.
Once you have it, you’re left with a lot of content to create that could easily end up as a jumble of links and dropdown navigational menus. To avoid that, we laid out the questions as headers and then listed underneath them the pages of the website that might address that particular query. Then, on our handy whiteboard wall, we can draw arrows connecting pages that should link to each other. It’s a mind map translated into the navigation of a website. The order of your navigation menu and every subsequent page link you make should help your prospects draw logical conclusions and connect enough dots to leave them feeling like they have a clear picture of what you’re all about.
The goal of a website is to answer the most pressing questions about you so that by the time a prospective customer calls or emails you, they’re ready to say, “I have a project for you” instead of the more banal “How much do you charge?” By making the information architecture as clean and intuitive as possible, you raise your chances that this will be the case.