What I’m Building: Art and Art History – part 2 the new IA

What I’m Building: Art and Art History – part 2 the new IA

I am in the process of leading redesign for the Art and Art History departmental web pages at Seattle University.  Previously I wrote about the first step in the process: Identifying the Objectives and concluded the redesign would focus on:

  • navigation
  • redundancy
  • relevance

I have since worked on restructuring the IA of the site so we have a solid plan, a map, of where we are heading.

Initial Structuring Brainstorm Meeting:

Because so many of the items on our site are constrained by convention.  I scheduled a meeting with our college’s Marketing Director.  I knew she would have a handle on the latest elements available in our content management system and would know which elements required by the college. We started our meeting with a discussion on the current structure of the site.

            Current Site Structure:

We talked in length about navigation and concluded the following:

  • From the analytics reports, we know that prospective students are accessing our degree pages through search.
  • Although we understand that the degrees are part of a department, which is part of a college, the target audience is not aware of that distinction. Our pages do not need to reflect the internal structure if it is not pertinent information to our customer base.
  • The department is unique compared to other departments in that the Art and Art History degree programs share resources, spaces, internship programs, and scholarships. We need to represent this without duplicating content in the subsections.

Simplifying the Structure

We started restructuring with a brainstorm session.  We pulled out the post-its and identified all the categories that are as standalone pages.  We grouped and revised as we found common features, and eliminated where we found unnecessary elements.

For instance, we found it unnecessary to have landing pages for Visual Art, Photography, Art History, etc, when we could instead structure everything from a departmental page with a common horizontal menu.  This would eliminate the need to include elements like scholarship, and facilities information under each degree page.  We decided forgo the inclusion of both “breadcrumbs” and left hand navigation, elements generated by the content management system, because they are reflective of internal structure and not relevant to our target audience.  When all was said and done, here was the initial plan:

This new streamlined structure eliminated about 50% of the pages we had previously maintained, going a long was to achieve our objectives of making the site easier to navigate and less redundant.

Navigation Build & Revisions:

Working with a CMS, can be restrictive.  After an initial structure build out of the pages and the navigation, I discovered that the navigation content type we chose is limited to six items.  This required us to combine categories strategically, resulting in our finalized IA structure:

I really enjoyed this process, it requires a lot of problem solving and reflection, but our blueprint is now complete and designing of the inital templates can begin.

Up Next;

Step Three: Content Design


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