As a recent e-commerce web project winds down, it has become very noticeable that prior to this endeavor, the emphasis on IA and content has often been sidelined.
On the surface it may not seem like it, but how many times has your project stalled and gotten behind timeline because:
- The content didn’t turn out to be the size that it was assumed to be during design, or
- The content is sent in to Legal midway through development, and Legal points out issues that will impact major content and navigational changes.
Out the gate, we are often excited to get the creative started, and understandably so; it feels like the fun part…right?
You might be thinking, “No, people don’t build a website without at least sorting through the taxonomy…”
In reality, what often tends to happen is that the conversations are begun, but not completed. Teams think, “Yeah, we get where we are going with this,”…and then they just dive into the creative.
More assertive UX teams are starting to put their foot down on this point, and rightfully so. UX is not in charge of Information Architecture (IA) per se, but they see and understand how important getting this in place is for the user. If the user can’t find what they need (or doesn’t realize that they found what they need), they are gone.
For this most recent project mentioned, that was the key difference. The Lead UX Designer insisted on a content-first approach.
The project was iterative, but still phased. Discovery led to the “Content” phase, and in this phase the UX Lead worked with the Marketing strategist and SEO strategist in:
- Taking content inventory
- Creating IA taxonomy
- Creating navigation structure (complete site map)
- Finalizing first-round, Product Team-approved, content
Taking the journey from this direction literally took away 90% of the roadblocks I see teams encounter time and again.
The Designers were able to truly understand the concepts and messaging they needed to portray, and were clear on the physical space they had to work with.
Naturally, the copy deck could be turned in nice and early, so Legal- and Compliance-requested changes could be accomplished in a timely, relaxed manner.