Filed under: Information architecture
There is a worrying trend emerging in the field of information architecture: organisations are attempting to finalise site structures without evaluating their effectiveness in the context of a web page.
Card sorting and card-based classification provide excellent insights into the inherent structure behind content. Both are excellent tools for defining strict taxonomies, but they do not necessarily generate the most approachable structure for a site. Content centred design is not necessarily user centred design.
Browser windows impose many limitations, one of the most obvious is space. Failure to consider the reality that the site structure must function in the context of a browser window, can result in the following problems:
- The site structure has too many top-level headings
Horizontal navigation only allows for around eight top level headings. Vertical navigation allows for slightly more headings.
- Heading titles are too long
Descriptive heading titles are best, but the limited space on a web page (particularly horizontally) means that compromises often need to be made.
These factors mean that the site structure derived from abstract exercises, such as card-based classification evaluation, may not successfully transfer to the web.