The overall goal of your web site is to communicate and interact with your customers. If they are unable to find the information they are looking for, or get frustrated as they navigate your site, they will surely leave to visit your competitor.
The Importance of Information Architecture
The process of brainstorming and grouping your web site content can be even more beneficial to your overall web strategy as it naturally encourages thought and discussion of what should really be on your web site, what should be promoted on your home page, and helps determine the overall goals and objectives of your web site. This importance is what makes it the first, and most significant part of any web development project.
Organizing and gathering the content required for your web site can seem like a simple task, yet it is often one of the most complicated, and difficult parts of developing a web site. Decisions on how to organize your navigation, whether to use a drop-down or fly-out navigation versus a static main menu/sidebar design can change how users navigate your site, and therefore how well they find what they're looking for. When we discussed the usability of your web site, we talked about how multi-level navigation can make it difficult to navigate your web site, but equally important is how to group all your web pages together in your navigation, and how to link pages together as well. One big mistake made by a lot of web developers is to write your web content, without considering potential internal links on your content pages. Linking to other pages on your web site from within your content area allows you to group certain pages together and help visitors find what they're looking for on your web site. As an added bonus, it also helps search engines index and analyze your web site to provide the most relevant rankings to web searchers.
Don't Rely On How Visitors Get To Your Site
In some cases, users will be coming from search engines or external links from other web sites, and may not find your site how you intend them to. Structuring your web site so that users always have a clear understanding of where they are and how to find the information they are looking for will only lead to happy visitors, and converted customers.
As much as we aim to make everything as organized and easy to find as possible, there is no better way to get indirect feedback from your site visitors than from an internal site search engine. Allowing users to tell you exactly what they're looking for, you can also determine what type of content you should add to your site, and where to put it. Monitoring your own internal search engine statistics is imperative to ensure that you're providing the content your visitors want.
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