Have you ever visited a website and felt like you’ve gotten lost while looking for specific information? Or returned to a website and couldn’t remember where you found a product before? Or gotten frustrated because the page titles on a website just didn’t make sense?
Fear not – it’s not your fault. It’s entirely the fault of the website’s “information architecture,” or IA. IA is how the website’s content has been laid out through the organization of pages, content and links. The IA of the website should be set up in a way that anticipates what the user is thinking and helps them efficiently find the information they seek. The first click is critical for the user – according to usability.gov, if the first click is incorrect, the user only has a 46 percent chance of completing their task. If the first click is correct, the user has an 87 percent chance of completing their task. That’s a big difference!
The Lilja team decided to take a deeper look at how we want our company website’s information architecture to be organized, so we did a card sorting exercise. Card sorting is traditionally done by users who haven’t previously been on a website as a way to test the IA, but we used it as a tool to talk through the content we want to have on our website and how it should be organized – and that turned into a deeper conversation about our brand.
Using notecards and markers, we started by writing a few things we knew we would include: homepage, social media links, blog, etc. We also came prepared with cards we wanted to discuss, like a quote that currently exists on our homepage and older portfolio projects. We laid these out on the table and stepped back to look at each of the cards.
It’s always a little awkward to get started on a card sort, but we decided to start by focusing on the homepage. Soon enough, we branched out into other pages and found ourselves having discussions about how we organize the work we do and how it all fits into one narrative: crafting stories that influence. We also found ourselves discussing how our work and staff have evolved over time and the types of clients we serve.
By the end of our card sort, we had a plan to rename three of our website’s pages, a new organization structure and an almost completely different way of explaining the work we do – all of which will improve our website and its users as Lilja continues to change and grow. But beyond the website, we profited from the exercise because it sparked conversations about our brand, identity and work – this left us with a renewed sense of confidence in all that we do.