Hello again – if you’re reading this, it must be Wednesday, and Search Engine Academy is telling you some more about information architecture (IA) and search engine optimization (SEO).

We have talked about the basics – organizing content, creating navigation and labeling systems, and the fundamentals of site search for IA and SEO.

We’ve also gone a little deeper into each, to help you truly understand how each system in IA interacts and supports the other systems.

I’ve just finished up showing you how important meta data, controlled vocabularies and thesauri are for your website efforts when creating a user-friendly site with IA principles.

Now, we’re going even further and I will talk to you about integrating IA when you’re developing – or re-developing –  a web site. Ready? Let’s go!

It’s time to see how to create IA for your site. When developing a website, or doing an overhaul, there are several disciplines involved – ideally, and mostly in reality, particularly for large sites. If you have a small site, you probably wear all or most of these hats:

  • Graphic design
  • Software development
  • Content management
  • Usability specialist
  • Social media coordinator

So, back in the day, all’s anyone would really do is create a site, slap it up, and hope for the best, while not planning for the worst – no traffic, few conversions and limited exposure in search results. We’ve all gotten a lot smarter since the good old days, and most everyone understands at least dimly, that you have to have great content and it must be optimized. My mission is to open your mind to IA and show you how it meshes with SEO, enhances your site’s usability and helps you achieve your desired ROI.

Taking yet another look at the mother of all IA references, “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” (Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld), look at this diagram of process development for IA:

IA and SEO: the development process

Process Development Steps for Incorporating Information Architecture Into A Website

 

During the research step, you review background materials that will support website development, as well as the business goals and what you want the site to achieve. If it’s an existing site, review the current content, navigation, labeling and site search functions. You also review and refine the target audience(s).

Why do this? Because it will drive the site organization and navigation. If you’re adding new information, how does this affect the current site structure and navigation?

When you move onto design, you’ll develop wire frames and metadata schema to incorporate by different team members – designers, authors, programmers.

When you’re ready for implementation, this is where you build, test and refine the site. You may well end up re-doing content organization, labeling and navigation, based on user testing and preferences.

Last, administration is where the ongoing evaluation and refinement of the site happens. You’ll review your funnels and other landing/exit page data in your web analytics to figure out how audience interaction is happening.

By the way, these are not clear cut, easy to separate steps. There’s overlap, and it can get messy. Good project/program management skills are necessary to keep things rolling and organized.

This is a good stopping point for this week. Stay tuned for next week, when we go deeper into conducting research to understand user intent, the business goals for the site and the content type that may work best.

Until next time, keep it between the ditches.

All the best,