Information architecture (IA)
The three click rule is outdated. It is far more important that users follow a logical and carefully considered path through your website. Therefore the structure of your content is vital
If you have a significant amount of content, the journey that the user takes to get to the specific detail should be intuitive to the majority of users.
The information architecture of your website can significantly influence the design of your site. It is often found that an eCommerce site with a poor conversion rate is due to users being confused about where to find the products they are looking for and being provided with too much choice or irrelevant options. Having well thought out information architecture is key to overcoming this.To truly apply the best information architecture you need to understand your user audience.
There are generally three types of users that every public facing website needs to consider:
- WWILF (Woo-fling users)
Hunters are users who know what they are looking for and want to move on. They are looking for a direct route to find what it is they are looking for and to to the checkout, if necessary.
Explorers are users who do not know what they are looking for. They are browsing to see what is available and in search of inspiration. These users will be on a logical journey, based on links they find interesting, informative or that meet a need. These users can soon turn into hunters once inspired.
WWILF (which stands for "What Was I Looking For?")
These users are those who are not sure what they are looking but happen to somehow stumble upon the website they are in. They will not be on a logical journey through the website but a random one. For this reason it is important to provide landmarks that enable users not to get lost and have a clear pathway to navigate back. These users can be carefully turned into Explorers and then Hunters if they find something inspirational that meets their needs.
Content card sorting is an ideal tool when planning information architecture. This is a fun exercise that needs to be done in a controlled meeting environment. This will provide a user experience that will deliver lasting value to your users.