Our process is to collaborate with our customers to determine the business requirements and site objectives and define and document the information architecture (IA) and navigation of the new site. The basic goal of IA is to understand the site from a 'big picture' perspective and to direct the site visitor using navigational and psychological drivers to desired sections of the site and, thus, desired outcomes.
Before developing navigation and overall architecture of the site, we analyze a number of different components in order to create an efficient, intuitive and informative user experience.
- First and foremost we review the marketing objectives of the site. In most cases this has already been provided by the Client, but in some cases, we work with the Client to help define their overall goals. For instance, if the Client's main goal is to increase revenue through product sales, then making the online storefront a dominant and easy-to-use feature of the site is a necessity.
- Once the marketing objective's has been established the next step is to review the target audience of the site - the Who , What , Why , When and How definition. This determines important development requirements such as browser specifications, rich media capabilities and user functionality that is critical to the success of the site.
- If we're redesigning an existing site, an important resource to refer to is site traffic analysis (if reporting is available). Reporting software can offer valuable insight into any site by offering statistics on pages most visited, pages least visited, entry and exit points of users, paths users take per visit, etc. In general, it tells you how users are interacting with your site which you can then use to re-tool the existing architecture to achieve the results you and your users are looking for.
- The last step in the process is to review and organize the content of the site into logical categories. The content will innately impact the navigation of the site, however, the information gathered in the previous steps will help fine-tune the navigation to best suit the desired user experience.