To rebuild a system, we must understand it. Enter the structural audit: a review of the site focused solely on its menus, links, flows, and hierarchies. Lisa Maria Martin explains in this excerpt from her new A Book Apart book, Everyday Information Architecture.
Voice user interfaces, smart software agents, and AI-powered search are changing the way users—and computers—interact with content. Whether or not you’re building services for these emerging technologies, structured content is now necessary to ensure the accuracy and integrity of your content across the evolving digital landscape.
Putting the right information in the right place to best support user (and company) goals requires carefully targeted content and good information architecture (IA) … and definitely no FAQs! However attractive the FAQ “solution” might seem at times, using it makes information hard to find, access and maintain, and generally hinders task completion. Discussing the limitations of—and alternatives to—FAQs, Lisa Wright is on a mission to banish them forever, or at the very least make them more effective if you have to include them.
Go ahead. Game it up. Set that corporate website abuzz with rewards and badges and magic codes. Just don’t be surprised, says user interface specialist Graham Herrli, when the site’s primary users balk at your efforts. Before incorporating cool, hip game elements, he says, it’s important to know your target. Who are they? What are their time constraints? What motivates them?
Pivoting smoothly from action to action is all well and good, but when interactions seem abstract to users, a sense of context is probably missing. In this follow-up to Object-Oriented UX, Sophia Voychehovski takes us from big-picture OOUX frameworks to confidently targeting actions that meet the needs of users.
Information architecture supports all aspects of the web experience. It enhances accessibility, and reinforces the efficacy and authenticity of sites. Yet, Abby Covert argues that IA is still an elusive concept, with a vast contingent of those who practice it groping at best, and copying obsolete strategies at worst. Only a fearless commitment to talking about IA—including the failures, the confusion, and the Eureka! moments—will bring this essential element out of the shadows.
We know big, monolithic webpages won’t meet the needs of responsive sites and endless screens. But we’re often still quilting together design patterns and content modules, rather than truly thinking in systems. Sophia Voychehovski shows us how defining the objects our users interact with, and the relationships between them, opens doors to more interconnected—and successful—user experiences.
Structured, automatic systems are great at managing content efficiently—but not so great at accommodating human changes in that content. On the other hand, free-for-all WYSIWYGs lead to inconsistency and breakdowns. Stakeholders and content administrators need flexibility and control, especially where the all-important homepage is concerned. What’s a website to do? Johanna Bates suggests embracing a people-friendly homepage solution within our robot-driven architectures.
Every piece of web content is important—or so every stakeholder insists. But what happens when dozens, even hundreds, of different tasks battle for space on your homepage and in your navigation? It’s time to make some hard choices about what does and doesn’t belong. Gerry McGovern demonstrates how to zero in on the tasks that matter most to your users.
What place am I in? By giving us the ability to link to anything at any time, the web complicated this question and changed our concept of context. In this excerpt from Chapter 2 of his new book, Understanding Context, Andrew Hinton explores why that happened, and how our resulting “place confusion” affects the way we perceive and use the web.