“I can’t find this on your website.”

You’ve heard it or said it before, right? As a writer, website architecture is something that has become very near and dear to my heart. Why? Without an intuitive website architecture, you probably won’t be able to find that powerfully life-changing content that I’ve just written.

A well-organized site will help your target audiences find the information they want in a quick and efficient manner. When you’re looking at your site’s current architecture, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep it consistent. Use parallel construction when naming pages. Your site might be large, but this is really important for usability. Don’t use “Our Students” in one location, “Meet Our Faculty” elsewhere, and “Staff” somewhere else. Consistency is key.
  • Keep it lean. Your site really doesn’t need to go more than three levels deep. Your users aren’t going to go much further, anyways, so why do you have 10 levels?
  • Keep it simple. Use plain language, avoiding vague terminology such as “discover” and “explore.” Your target audiences won’t know what to find there, which will lead to heightened user dissatisfaction.
  • Keep it to seven. To maintain an inviting, orderly structure, make sure your primary navigation contains no more than seven items/buckets. With too many options, you run the risk of overwhelming your target audiences.
  • Keep your target audiences in mind. Have you asked your target audiences about particular terms they use? If you have, you’re one step closer to having a site that will resonate with them. And after all, they’re the ones that really matter here.
  • Keep it to one step at a time. I know, you want to see the design of your site. But it’s important to get your architecture nailed down before jumping into design and content. The later in the process you make changes to architecture, the less likely it is that those changes are in the best interests of your target audiences.

As you’re thinking about your website architecture, remember that it’s just as important as design and content. You might have a great design and killer content, but it doesn’t matter if your target audiences can’t find it.

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