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Ia Vs. Ta


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 02:39 PM

Anyone serious about webdev knows of Shari Thurow. And she has written another 'must read' article: SEO Smackdown: Information Architecture vs. Technical Architecture, Search Engine Land, 02-September-2011.

What with placing SEO on a pedestal Technical Architecture has become the webdev darling. However, without appropriate Site Architecture the people delivered by the SEs may simply bounce away without hanging about or converting (yes, content also plays a role, everything is connected, which is an overarching point too many forget. Plus, with sole focus on TA, a third party, i.e. SE, often becomes necessary to functional site navigation. Can you see why that might be a problem?

Note: my bold emphasis.

...when I tell a client that the core issue with findability is the websiteís information architecture, my findings are immediately passed to the technical team.
...
...many SEO professionals, developers and other IT professionals do not understand the role of information architecture (IA) in the SEO process. In fact, this group often does not understand the role of IA in the Web development process.
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Information architecture is the organization and labeling of website content to support usability and findability.
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Web professionals constantly confuse information architecture with technical architecture. Because of that, technical architects end up making information architecture decisionsÖand that is a critical mistake.
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So letís go back to understanding what information architects do. Organization is grouping related content into categories and providing user-friendly access to that content via global, local, and contextual navigation.
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Even though it might seem as if I am dismissing technical architecture, I am not. I understand the importance of providing access to content via both browsing and searching.
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I do not make a technology decision purely based on how a search engine interprets navigation systems and content.

First, I want to know what the IA, marketing, and usability teams have determined. Then I make technology decisions. In other words, I believe that information architecture should guide technical architecture.
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I have seen too many technology teams dismiss information architecture and usability guidance because it might harm rankings.

In reality, the organization and labeling of information will increase sales, conversions, and (yes) even search engine visibility.
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I believe that a successful website architecture is a combination of an effective information architecture and corresponding technical architecture.

Shari has much more to say than my extracts, which I hope are sufficient for you to read the whole article. And do follow the links as they add depth and context. And, finally. if you haven't read Ambient Findability by Peter Morville I highly recommend it.
You canít use what you canít find.

#2 DCrx

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 07:47 PM

What happens if you have poor conversions? You need more SEO, more raw traffic.

Bad content and poor conversions and poor architecture makes the SEO case you need more SEO.

#3 iamlost

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 09:12 PM

DCrx, I know that you are being ironic; unfortunately far too many will take your words literally - for sadly they could have been taken directly from many an SEO website.

Let me count the fallacies you present in those three sentences... :rofl:
It only hurts when I laugh... :cheers:

#4 A.N.Onym

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Posted 03 September 2011 - 11:59 PM

I can't think of any other way of doing things, really. Maye I've had too good a company to educate me :emo_gavel:

Speaking of "a combination of an effective information architecture and corresponding technical architecture". iamlost (or anyone out there), do you know any conspicuous, novel ways to present information effectively, while using an elegant technical solution? Something that the general public wouldn't obviously know? I am very curious to know what I have missed, since I stopped reading design/usability blogs daily =) Thank you.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 04 September 2011 - 04:16 AM.


#5 DCrx

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:00 AM

for sadly they could have been taken directly from many an SEO website.



Ironic. Literally.

do you know any conspicuous, novel ways to present information effectively, while using an elegant technical solution?



Conspicuous would tend to nullify effective and elegant solutions.

Then there's the whole issue that you can have ten or twenty people in a group using the word information ...and they all mean different things. More humorous still, they all go off in different directions and only later wonder what happened.

IA tends to assume a lot not in evidence. One is the information even exists to navigate to. When has an IA ever come up with a list of information assets users expect, but are not there? Or, once users have found information, it is of some level of quality which is sufficient to some kind of information task? (if such a thing existed).

First novel thing we introduce here is that information has users and the ONLY task information has is decisionmaking. Not trivial pursuit. Not bettering oneself in some undefined abstract fashion.

So persona and scenario design in IA would be the first novel idea. Creating a system which technically prevented you from installing the site until you developed them would be nice, but would effectively cripple the 'hey gang, let's put up a web site' web.

When you have a better, more focussed, concept of the user or user segments, then you can begin to entertain the notion needed for the technical architecture. This is UI folks. No User, no Interface.

We already have UI design which is all I and very little U. It's called Jquery and Flash, with a side order of Mootools. When this all (let's do everything flash got criticized for, using semantic web standards) started I posted a request for examples steeped in sound UI principles and unquestionably targeted to a user. That thread still has zero examples.

Jquery has made itself into the speed bump of IA. And that is state of the art TA as widely and popularly practiced. There is cool. There is cutting edge. The user focus is implied. (meaning assumed but not actually catered to)

Edited by DCrx, 04 September 2011 - 09:45 AM.


#6 A.N.Onym

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 11:07 AM

"I posted a request for examples steeped in sound UI principles and unquestionably targeted to a user"
Sadly, that's what I meant under "conspicuous". Sorry, the shiny word got the best of me, I should've used a more unanimous word.

Guess I'll have to do a few searches on my own, possibly involving jQuery, CSS3 and other design+usability tricks. Possibly, it may become good research material, if it's as rare as you seem to indicate.

I've just remembered: one example of what kind of design/usability tricks I seek are visual checks on login/password forms that tell you, whether the login is available or how strong the password is (or whether it matches). I believe this may come from jQuery.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 05 September 2011 - 03:24 AM.


#7 DCrx

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 04:50 PM

Yes. Please do.

Something similar to what I mean would be CSS compliance with Fitts' Law

Unlike some, I do not limit what qualifies to strictly usability. Still, I don't have much luck getting away from technically clever but really pointless special effects. Not that you won't get a dozen angry designers swearing whatever they like the fictional ventriloquist's dummy they call user also likes.



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