SES Live: Information Architecture for the Modern Website

Aug 16, 2011 - 1:55 pm 0 by

Below is live coverage of the Information Architecture for the Modern Website panel from the SES San Francisco 2011 conference. This coverage is provided by Ben Pfeiffer at RankSmart.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time, using a custom live blogging tool. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments for inclusion into the live coverage. During the live event, live notes will auto-scroll with newest entries at top. After the session is complete the archive version will have the oldest entries at the top. We ask you to please excuse any typos, as these are live notes.

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Ben Pfeiffer: 9:57:20 am
Information Architecture for the Modern Website
We all know how to develop sites to be search friendly but how do we architect sites for the rapidly evolving cross-media challenges of social media, real time and user generated content. Come learn how design and deploy a next generation site architecture that maximizes your chances of findability no matter where and how searchers look for you.

Solo presentation by: Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive

Ben Pfeiffer: 9:58:03 am
First session coverage of the day! The room is starting to fill up.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:01:03 am
If you have any questions on any of the coverage let me know and I will try to clarify.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:01:41 am
Shari opens giving her credentials and experience in information architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:02:46 am
Getting information architecture right is a big component in an SEO campaign. It can be costly if you get it wrong.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:03:30 am
There are many myths about information architecture, Shari will address what it is and what it is NOT
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:04:21 am
Information architecture is the science and art of organizing and labeling website content to support usability and findability.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:05:03 am
Information architecture address several facets of the searchers experience.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:05:18 am
Info architects make content easier to find.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:05:25 am
So why should be care?
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:05:46 am
For one its means you can lose customers with improper info architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:06:07 am
Sucky info architecture means less customers and poor brand experience.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:06:47 am
Shari gives an example of united.com faq google search. It sends the user to the right site, but wrong page.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:07:34 am
Hitting the back button is the most common pasttime of a dissatifised user experiencing bad information architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:08:07 am
Shari recommends that you always wireframe a website.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:08:30 am
It's the first step towards good information architecture and reducing costs in the design later on.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:08:59 am
Another reason you should care about wireframes is that it helps minimize duplicate content.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:09:52 am
Tag cloud, faceted naviation, etc.. all results in duplicate content. You need to address these issues with info architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:10:28 am
People commonly confuse what information architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:10:56 am
We should not let technical people/programmers decide the information architecture.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:11:31 am
IA (information architecture) communicates aboutness to both searches and searchers.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:13:02 am
Shari explains that it's a good idea to present your mockup with content stripped out to a focus or testing group and ask their opinion.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:13:35 am
She says that if you nail the IA, then the need to do revisions and redesigns will go down.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:14:31 am
Shari next talks about index count and duplicate content issues.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:15:11 am
How you architect your website affects what gets indexed in the search engines and what ranks.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:16:24 am
If you establish the "aboutness" of a page correctly, you will get more links.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:17:08 am
The ideal IA situation is that if you type a search and find what you are looking for. Often this doesn't happen.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:18:23 am
IA should guide technical architecture. Not the otherway around.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:19:05 am
Shari says she uses the WTF? measurement tool to determine how good the IA is. The more WTF? the poorer the IA.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:20:12 am
Navigational, informational and transactional are the most common searcher goals.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:21:02 am
Shari gives an example of an itunes search. It shows sitelinks, which is an indication of a navigational search.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:21:35 am
Anytime you see a wikipedia listing in the search listings it means the search is an informational search.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:23:12 am
Shari next gives an example of what architecture is NOT such as PR sculpting/siloing... which kinda an old SEO tactic.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:23:59 am
The accepted definition of IA is: 1. The structural design of shared information environments.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:24:25 am
2. The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:25:01 am
She continues saying every website needs a way to categorize content.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:25:58 am
IA = Organization, Categorization, Labeling, Prioritization = Your Final Navigation
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:26:43 am
She says you much categorize your blog content! She gives an example of Matt Cutts' blog
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:28:00 am
In addition to a formal taxonomy, content can be arranged, via task, topic/subject, target audience, type, alpha, typographical
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:29:20 am
One solid tips is to organize your content according toward what audience it is for. For example doctors/nurses vs. consumers. They both speak a different language.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:30:39 am
Information architectures do not ignore analytics or keyword research tools. However they don't tell us why.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:31:16 am
She mentions a tool I have used a lot is card sorting.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:32:05 am
It's the tactics of writing on index cards of potential categories or topics to organize content. Then you arrange them in a logical order, taking out bad ideas and adjusting the categories.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:33:32 am
Shari also generates keyword calenders for clients. A good idea to keeping track of what users are searching for when a major event happens (awards, news, wars, politics...)
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:33:58 am
She recommends doing keyword research on YouTube.com
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:35:03 am
She recommends Web Thesaurus Compendium, Thesaurus.com
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:35:38 am
You do not organize your content by keywords.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:36:08 am
No one in the world does it this way. You organize by topic, etc..
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:36:46 am
Every page has an aboutness and something unique.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:38:13 am
She mentions that the problem with blogs is that they are easy to setup but hard to maintain.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:38:56 am
Blog titles should contain keywords as often as possible because they show up in social media, search. It's good IA.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:41:03 am
The last thing you should do when you optimize a blog is that you create author pages.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:41:43 am
She gives an example of Huffington Post that added author pages. A good example.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:42:52 am
Shari mentions that author tag Google has recently released. She says she has not seen any difference in rankings but its just another signal to identify the ownership of content.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:43:22 am
She recommends that you need to be careful using abbreviations. You should always spell it out.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:45:02 am
Visual affordance test is giving a user a piece of paper and asking them to circle everything that is clickable. Next you give them the same page again and ask them to circle what is not clickable.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:45:32 am
Great test to find out what looks like a link and what doesn't. Make sure your links look clickable.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:46:03 am
Requiring users to 'guess' what is clickable slows them down.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:49:45 am
Shari says that drop down menus are not preferred by users, they generally don't like them.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:50:16 am
Pages that perform well in her testings are pages that have no more than 104 links per page.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:50:38 am
She next is going to talk about USG (User Generated Content).
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:52:00 am
A good tip if you have reviews on your website is to provide an example of a good review in your help section.
Ben Pfeiffer: 10:57:20 am
The session is over and now goes into Q&A.
 

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