Information architecture (IA) is an often-overlooked area of website design. Too often, as designers, we just let the CMS we’re using dictate how content for a site is organized. And that works fine as long as the site fits perfectly into the narrow content formats most CMSs are designed around.
But too often, a website’s content breaks the boundaries of most CMSs. Without a clear understanding of how information architecture works, we can end up creating sites that are more confusing than they need to be or, at worst, make our content virtually inaccessible. It’s a shame, considering that the basics of good information architecture are no more difficult to learn than the basics of good web design.
Using a website should be easy. It should be intuitive. We should know what button or link to click to get to where we need to be.
But sometimes websites can be insanely confusing. Just look at the Apple app store, for example. When seeking out apps to install on my iPhone — which as an open source advocate and proponent, I feel incredibly guilty with, by the way — I find myself endlessly frustrated at the general lack of good navigation in iTunes, making the process of discovering the apps I want more difficult than necessary.
We hear plenty usability tips and techniques from an incalculable number of sources. Many of the ones we take seriously have sound logic, but it’s even more validating when we find actual data and reports to back up their theories and conjectures.
This article discusses usability findings of research results such as eye-tracking studies, reports, analytics, and usability surveys pertaining to website usability and improvements. You’ll discover that many of these usability tips will be common sense but are further supported with numbers; however, some might surprise you and change your outlook on your current design processes.
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to "finish and forget" when it comes to web development. Once a website is live and the boss or client is happy, we close the project, kick off our shoes and crack a beer.
Part of the problem with this approach is the ever changing landscape online. Something that converts visitors today, might not be working two months from now (in some cases, it may not be working in the first place, but no one took the time to test it).
Most people use web analytics—you’d have to be crazy not to—especially with such powerful free solutions out there. However, for many people, analyzing their stats goes no further than rejoicing at having a few more visitors and repeating the figures to potential advertisers.
But analytics, used properly, is so much more – it’s a marketing tool, an error checker, a usability tool, an ROI calculator, an eCommerce tracker, an ad tool and the list goes on.
So we’re going to take a look at the basic ways of getting more from your analytics.
The web has become a part of our lives. Folks from all walks of life, from upscale parts of New York to dirt road villages you probably will never hear of in Burundi, are all a part of what we call "the internet". The reasons they use the web is highly varied: it could be to search for news articles, directions to the nearest pub, the winter/fall clothing trends, post-grad research, or shopping for a handbag, the list is endless. It could be anyone too. It’d be impossible to try to classify web users in any particular demographic range.
15 years ago, the web didn’t look the way that it does now. The web was dull, unattractive and less visually appealing. Interacting with web pages was not possible, and the web was simply a static information space.
Well, a lot’s changed since then. Today’s modern trends on the web are sophisticated, alluring and engaging. Building interactive and amazing interfaces using Flash/Flex or Silverlight has become easier and more accessible to modern-day designers.