Information architecture is often one of the most complex problems when dealing with a complex website. Even beyond the first few pages, new questions arrise about organization, categorization, and taxonomy. When dealing with standard content websites that feature all primary pages on the first level of hierarchy, standard naming conventions can provide stock answers to page names. A quick survey of portfolio sites will immediately reveal common design trends. This is true of simple sites in almost any category. When traditional design standard have already be established, generally it’s easiest for the user to abide by these schemas. The primary exception to this is if you are designing a site that is firmly based to asserting a unique position in that category. A creative agency might use more informal language to demostate it’s design philosophy at the most basic level. Or a blog might have special categories to demonstrate it’s commitment to certain content, such as a tech sections. Overall these still constitute minor variation on the same core taxonomies.
The trouble begins with sites and apps that are based on entirely unique content, actions, and products. For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on a song dedication platform that is focused around a not-for-profit institution. The primary goal of the site is to create awareness of the charitable organization through music and social media. Several questions have arisen about the direction and level of detail needed at each phase of the site. The dedication process requires a social sigh on with facebook or google. The question then arrises to what level can a user create a custom profile on the site to keep track to dedications and personal information. The process already requires storing user data, so why not add a neat profile section?
With large e-commerce websites a whole host of other problems emerge. Having worked on e-commerce sites from scratch and re-imagining the UX of existing sites, the IA tasks are quite different. Not surprisingly, dealing with legacy systems is often more difficult than imagining something from the ground up.