Optimize your information architecture and simplify your website
Garbage cans last forever, but the lids will always go missing. I was thinking of this natural law as I searched up and down my block in vain for my lost garbage can lid.
A quick web search determined that houseware stores were not willing to sell me just the lid. And no way I was buying a new garbage can. So I decided to make my own lid.
Simple, right? It took me an entire weekend. A particular challenge was positioning the cleats – small pieces of wood on the underside of the lid — that keep the lid firmly on the can.
As shown in the photo above, my finished lid was a bit unusual. My neighbors seemed to like it though…
The myth of “simple”
Like the garbage can lid, a lot of things we do seem simple, but aren’t. Take website information architecture (IA). On the surface, it’s simple: there’s Home, About Us, Contact, etc.
But our clients often are complex organizations, or have complex service offerings.
For example, look at a website we just developed for VCG, an organization that helps non profits build more effective boards of directors. VCG offers a wide menu of board development services for a diverse group of prospects. So how do we organize VCG’s services so that a user can find what’s right for them – in seconds?
How to simplify your website
- Organize by audience. In planning the IA, we grouped the services by the audience they target. On the VCG website there are sections labeled For Organizations, For Corporations, and so on.
- Shortcuts. Our client identified the top four services that users needed – their pain points. We featured these shortcuts in a palette of buttons on the home page and key pages in the site. So users with these needs did not have to navigate the site – they could head directly to the most relevant page.
- Internal links. We built a feature into the content management system – the More Box — so that VCG could add internal links at the bottom of a page. These links lead to additional pages with relevant information. These help the user create their own path through the website, with pages that are meaningful to them.
FACT OF THE MONTH
Columbia University is the second largest landowner in New York City, after the Catholic Church.
LEVINSON BLOCK NEWS
We are excited to announce the launch of the VCG website. It combines and rationalizes two legacy websites. It will help VCG engage its current audience, and find new prospects. Our thanks to VCG’s David LaGreca and his team!