Oliver Reichenstein: Information Archetecture

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Oliver Reichenstein (@ia) was speaking about information architecture at Responsive Day Out, these are my notes from his talk.

We  know how to deal with different devices, screens - RWD has come a long way.  Well, we've got back to where we started.

IA is pretty boring but if you use a container system you feel like you've accomplished something.  When you build an IA you often have to take a random deision.  We'er forced to make them by our tree structure that starts at the homepage and works down from there.

Can we chop this tree down?  Like what we've done with layout.  People have tried getting rid of navigatoin, convention is probably too strong to get rid of it altogether but less is more.  You don't need 20 different levels - this is mostly driven by internal politics.  We often take this navigation and mirror it on the homepage which makes it even more important to be in the menu.

Tree structures aren't the only way.  Think about an alternative way.  Navigation can have containers that have content that changes.

  • Top stories
  • Most read
  • Most commented
  • ...
  • Advertisers

Don't negotiate space - negotiate container, order and duration.

Columns don't work - we've tried it.  Use containers.  If categories are the same then they can be mixed.  Don't mix different types of containers next to each other.

Mobile is great because it forces people to prioritise content.  Don't allow wider layouts to compromise this just because it can.  Design containers independent of layout.

A news article page container layout:

  1. Navigation
  2. Article
  3. Comment
  4. Related articles
  5. Top news - section
  6. Top news - site

Nothing in the right column - it doesn't work.  Everybody hates it.

Chop the tree and forget about a static IA where each item has a place.  Keep the navigation but have a second vector to categorise content.  Once you lose the categorisation and can move the containers horizontally across the site you get better statistical results.