In a perfect world the design of your site’s information architecture would always be based on a combination of user goals, analytics data, and IA design standards.
While ideal, this scenario is often interrupted by internal politics and confusion between the goals of internal stakeholders and external users (current/potential customers etc.). This is especially the case with a wide range of stakeholders each representing a unique function within the organization; post-secondary institutions are a good example.
Early today I was part of a planning meeting with The Ontario College of Teachers (client) where the team asked me a very thoughtful question around the information architecture they’ve spent weeks redesiging:
“How would you go about pitching this to our internal stakeholders?”
After a brief discussion I helped the team arrive at the following tips:
- Start with rationale. Whatever you do, don’t send your proposed IA to stakeholders asking them to review and provide feedback. To expedite the approval process and reduce objections it’s a good idea to take the time to prepare and present your rationale behind the changes.
- Mention mobile. Internal stakeholders can be quick to add nav items at all levels where they feel underrepresented. Long nav menus are never a great idea but the case against them is especially strong given the necessity of a mobile-optimized experience.
- Use analytics. Statistics about the visitors to your website can provide valuable insight into what’s important to your visitors. If a prominently featured page isn’t popular among your visitors it may not be necessary or could live a litter deeper in the architecture.
- Get buy-in on goals. Prior to undertaking the IA design the OCT team worked with internal stakeholders to arrive at a series of goals for their new site. The IA should be designed with these goals in mind and should be capable of illustrating how the goals will be met in terms of content prioritization.
If you have the resources necessary it can help if a series of wireframes are developed based on the IA and put through informal usability tests. The data collected here can be used to back-up structure and information hierarchy decisions.
The latter three points should be considered before, during, and after the IA redesign while the first point is absolutely crucial when it comes to making your pitch.