Category Archives: Information Architecture

Six ways to improve website readability

80% of web users scan web pages, when they do read they read 25% slower than off screen readers.

The key is to write content that can be easily scanned , this can be done by adopting some of the following suggestions.

  1. Highlight key words and use bulleted lists where appropriate to the content, this helps to open up large block of text.
  2. Try not to cut and paste content directly from a printed document – an approximate rule is to cut it down by 75% , this is a must if you expect your users to read it on a screen.
  3. The inverted pyramid technique is a great approach to writing good content.  Start with the conclusion, and then go on to explain the full story.
  4. Aim to stick to one idea per paragraph.
  5. Always keep links phrases concise and clear.  Ask yourself if they make sense if read out of context or as a series of links?  At all costs avoid these terms:  click here, more info, follow this link and this website, they are meaningless when read as a list. A screen reader will just hear the words click here with no idea where the link will take them. Click here implies the use of a mouse which may not be the case. Using descriptive words or phrases  in links  help users to understand what to expect and is of benefit to the search engines.
  6. Are heading and subheadings meaningful – can user quickly scan the page and understand what they’re looking at or looking for.

Interactive framework

1. Product form and input methods. What is the form  of the product – where will it be used? Will it web based or in the physical world. If in doubt refer to the personas and the scenarios.

2. Functional and data elements. Data elements are broken down into the key elements, such as email, photo, contacts, messaging –  whilst the functional elements are the key functions that the user needs to undertake.

3. Functional groups and hierarchy
4. Interactive framework
5. Construct key scenarios – Outline the frequently used pathways through the system – based on the user tasks.
6. Check design with validation scenarios

[ref Cooper About Face]

Mapping the Information Architecture for a very large council website

I’ve been mapping the current IA for a beast of a council site, working initially in Excel and then linking this to Visio to created an extensive sitemap. This is a useful exercise and a practical way of getting familiar with the current IA and the site content. Linking Visio with excel isn’t the most straightforward of processes but it’s worth the effort and saves time.  Boxes and Arrow have quite a helpful article to help with this approach.

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