Information Architecture

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Introduction to Information Architecture

Time required: 15m
Lesson URL:
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Information architecture refers to the structure of a website in terms of:

  • What pages are available on the site
  • How the pages are linked together - particularly:
    • how the main site navigation is structured
    • what navigation paths take you from the homepage (or other important pages) to any page on the site

By working through this module, you will learn best practices and their associated underlying theory, common pitfalls as well as tools and methodologies for improving sites' architectures.

An effective information architecture is critical if you want search engines to be able to find your content and serve it to users. If crawlers cannot access the content, they cannot rank it well. From a human point of view, information architecture is important so that users can easily find what they are looking for.

At a basic level, a successful information architecture ensures that all of your pages are linked in a way that allows search engines and people to read all of the content on your site and move between those pages effectively. It also helps search engines prioritize your important pages for ranking purposes.

The speed at which users can find what they are looking for is normally a sign of a good or bad navigation; in the SEO industry we tend to relate this to the number of times a user needs to clicks from the homepage to find the product or service they are looking for. Pages that are fewer clicks from the homepage are sometimes referred to as ‘money’ pages, as they are normally where the final call to action happens. These pages also receive the most link equity so that they have a better possibility of ranking well for competitive terms.

Although the web is moving fast, the basics of information architecture have not changed: make your most important pages as close to the homepage as possible. This Whiteboard Friday from Rand and Dr. Pete in 2009 is still relevant today and serves as a good overview.

Examples of Typical Navigation Structures

Time required: 10m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Search Engine Limitations

Time required: 20m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Using Sitemaps to Diagnose Architecture Problems

Time required: 10m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Internal Linking

Time required: 30m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Controlling Search Engines

Time required: 20m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Introduction to Faceted Navigation

Time required: 15m
Teacher: Will Critchlow

International Information Architecture

Time required: 10m
Teacher: Geoff Kenyon

Tools

Time required: 20m
Teacher: Craig Bradford

Curated Resources

Time required: 30m
Teacher: Will Critchlow