Trulyexcellent and successful sites call for a combined expertise bydifferent professionals. This includes skills from programmers,graphic designers, technical specialists, marketers, copywriters,organizational project managers, and most critical to this processinformation architects. Therefore, this article is to help map awebsite us we walk in the shoes of site users, ensuring that theirneeds are put into account as we design the architecture, describethe available options in building organization structures, thebackbone to any site, and organizational schemes meeting the needs ofthe various audiences expected to visit the site. Consequently, itwill make sure you are prepared to move forward by helping establishthe site’s mission, vision, timeline, budget, audiences, content,and functionality.
Definingthe Site Goals
Accordingto Rosenfeld (2002), as an information architect, the lead assignmentto designing any website blue prints is to clarify mission and visionat hand, taking into consideration the needs of the organizationneeds of the intended audiences. Also, the architect will determinethe content and functionality the site will hold, specifying how theusers will find location in the website through definition of theorganization, labeling, navigation, and searching systems to be used.In addition, the architect will create prospects for future expansionallowing the site to accommodate change and growth in the future.
Indefining the site goals, as an architect I involved a number of theorganization’s stake holders, that is, the key players in theorganization. Here, the mission and purpose of the organization couldbe established, noting the short-term and long-term goals the siteintends to carry. Who were the intended audiences, as theorganization targeted potential clients both local and international,and potential investors. And why people should visit the site, inthis case the organization is selling products and services, as anorganization is an engineering construction company.
Accordingto Fielding (2002), consumers are users, and they want to locateinformation quickly and easily. Users do not like to get tangled indisorganized hyper textual webs. Thus, poor information architectscause confusion, frustration, and anger to the busy users. Sincevarious users seem to have varying needs, it is important to supportvarious needs by having multiple modes of finding information. Someusers know what they want, have an idea of what it is called, andunderstands it is available. Therefore, all they want is to find itand leave as quickly as possible, and this is referred to as theknown item search. On the other hand, other users do not know whatthey are looking for, and only visit the site with a vague idea ofthe information they need. These users might not even know if thesethings exist, therefore, as such consumers explore the site theyshould learn about products or services they never even considered.Consequently, the architect will support both modes.
Feworganizations are completely selfless thus, majority of theorganizations will want to know the return on their investment forinformation architect design, that is, does the organization gain(Rosenfeld, 2002). As an architect, considering the value to theconsumer takes us back to the consumer. If the web is going to be anexternal site, it will involve actual prospective customers,investors, employees, the media, business partners, and seniorexecutives in your organization. As a producer, it is not appropriateto frustrate any of these stakeholders by denying them the valuequick and easy access to information they might be in need of.
Ifa website is an intranet, the employees of your organization are theconsumers. Value lies in the time spent to find the information theyneed. In addition, a well-designed and diplomatic architecture canprevent costly internal political battles that can stop the projectbefore the website is realized. At its worst, the cost of time spentby the high-level executives arguing over what department should becaptured in the main page can easily go up is one is not careful(Webmonkey, 2010).
DesigningDocument – Site Goals
Asarchitects, we organize to understand, to give an explanation, and tocontrol. Therefore, the classification systems intrinsically reflectsocial perspectives, political perspectives, and objectives of theorganization. Therefore, as the information architect, the site goalsin mind is to have information organized so that people can have easeof access finding right answers to their questions. The site willsupport direct searching and casual browsing thus, the design willapply organization and labeling systems that make sense to users(Fielding, 2002).
Theoffers us a wonderful platform and a flexible environment from whichwe can organize, and in it apply multiple organization systems to thesame content in the process escaping the physical limitations of theprint world. All this is attained by the help of considerations madebefore production, that is, the needs of the site users and fittingthe organization, navigation, labeling, and searching systems aroundthese needs.
Fielding,R. T., & Taylor, R. N. (2002). Principled design of the modernWeb architecture. ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT) 2(2):115-150.Rosenfeld, L. & Morville, P. (2002). Informationarchitecture for the World Wide Web. Cambridge Sebastopol, CA: O`Reilly.
Webmonkey(2010). InformationArchitecture Tutorial.Retrieved From: http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/02/information_architecture_tutorial/