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Developing an effective IA

In the spirit of Xmas, we're releasing an Advent Calendar of blog posts throughout December:
1 Introduction
2 Content
3 Stakeholders
4 User Research
5 Card Sort
Day 1 10th Dec
Day 1 11th Dec
Day 1 12th Dec
Day 1 13th Dec
Day 1 14th Dec
Day 1 17th Dec
Day 1 18th Dec

Getting stakeholder insight

At the start of your IA project you’ll need to have a full understanding of the project scope, the objectives, the background and any specific requirements you must consider.

The best place to start is to spend time speaking to project stakeholders and review any existing material you can get your hands on.  

Reviewing existing material

This might include any previous research done such as, user needs analysis, web analytics, user journeys, conversion rates, business plans, brand strategies, etc.

If the current site captures analytics, spend some time analysing these statistics, including top pages, traffic sources, user/click paths, bounce rates, etc.

You don’t want your users to miss information, so you need to be asking yourself, did the user find information and if not, why?

Analysing analytics tells us the what, but doesn’t tell us the why, so it’s important that you invest your time speaking to project stakeholders and more importantly; the users of your website.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming post on User Research, where we’ll cover how to gain insight into user needs, including user research methods.  

Running stakeholder workshops

At this point you should have a good understanding of your project; the scope, objectives content already there and any problem areas to be solved.

You should now set some time aside to speak to project stakeholders so that you can gain a more in-depth understanding of the organisation, the customers, digital assets and goals.

A Stakeholder Workshop involves gathering key people involved in your project, preferably representatives across various teams and levels of the business. This is important to gain a true representation of your project, as each department often accesses different information and works in differing styles.

During your stakeholder Workshop, you should try to address the following questions:

  • What are the core activities of the business/project?
  • What are the objectives of the business/project?
  • What challenges does the organisation face?
  • How is the current digital environment managed?
  • What are their thoughts/opinions of this environment?
  • What do they want from the project?
  • Who are the users and what do they think that they want from the business/website?

You should discuss in more detail the vision for your new IA, including exploring structural ideas, key content, content migration, direction of new content, along with any potential changes in emphasis for existing content.

Stakeholder workshops are a great starting point and should be the main focus for user insight, if budget and time does not allow for user research.

Get your free Stakeholder Workshop Script

To help you run your own stakeholder workshop, we’ve created a template presentation you can use.

This presentation has been created based on our experience of running many workshops over many years. We hope you find this useful, if you have any queries we would love to hear from you.

Simply, give us your name and email address and we’ll send you over a free workshop presentation.

What’s next

If you found this blog interesting, we've also covered User Research and User Testing.