Card Sort & Goal-Oriented IA

I’ve been working on our new website and as usual, I decided to start with a card sort.

Card Sort

Due to various constraints, I only did the card sort with a couple of groups, and did it by myself as well. Since there weren’t enough groups to do a statistical analysis, I simply organized the sticky notes in such a way that I could easily see the different organizations that people came up with.

sticky notes in a tabular organization

Probably hard to read, but the gray sticky notes were some of the possible category headings or top level pages. The middle group of sticky notes were organized differently depending on the group, either by column or by row.

Information Architecture

The Old Hodge Podge

I did the card sort to get some ideas, because I knew that the original IA was not going to work. The old IA seemed rather ad hoc, pieced over time (which I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case). A lot of information was also split into “For Students” and “For Coordinators”, but most of the information overlapped, duplicated except in who it referred to (“you” vs. “the student”).

The wording is also misleading, because we serve everyone at an institution including staff and faculty, not just students. While our primary audience and users are students, I don’t think we should be making people think our service is only for students.

Goal-Oriented IA

I pulled one of my coworkers to help me brainstorm. Combining our ideas, experiences, and the card sort results, I decided to go with a task or goal-oriented IA, meaning that the IA’s focus is to help users complete tasks or achieve specific goals.

The idea is that to get stuff from us is a simple 3-step process (or so we’d like to believe). With that in mind, I set aside the ‘About Us’ stuff and reorganized the rest slightly.

sticky notes grouped in columns

My hope is that the information people are looking for will be easier to find, and that the process becomes more clear to people as well. The idea is that the 3-step process will be displayed in a more visual manner on the home page and then each step will also exist as a top level page in the menu.

While it is still a work in progress, currently the IA looks like this:

  • Home
  • Registration
  • Formats
    • PDF
    • E-text
    • Digital Audio (MP3)
    • Kurzweil
    • DAISY
    • Large Print
    • Braille & Tactile
  • Requests
    • Request Form
  • Delivery
    • Help With Downloading & Unzipping Files
  • Technology
  • About Us
    • About the Team
    • Annual Reports & Statistics
    • Footer info
    • Governance
    • Partners & Affiliates
    • Schools We Serve

The website is fairly small and I cut out a lot of the lower level subpages that weren’t even in the card sort because they were so deep and mostly duplicate information.

Hope to see the current IA work out, though it may still go through some modification.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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