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I'm rebuilding a site from scratch and would like to make better informed decisions about UX and IA.

Is it bad to use information architecture to describe multiple topics with duplicate catagory names ?

I want to keep a strong IA for a URL that users and SEO can depend on, but this is giving me a UX headache.

A website about a journey through indigenous games culture attempts to structure content by location with each of these pages displaying a contextual route map with links to content below the map.

route
-africa
--morocco
---games
----dinifri (*a)
---videos
---photos
---sketches
---travelog

route/africa/morocco/games/dinifri

The same website attempts to present information under the topic of "games" where each catagory page will highlight game content only, and not the route map.

games
-africa
--morocco
---dinifri (*b)
----videos
----photos
----sketches

games/africa/morocco/dinifri

And another obvious topic is for "videos" where each catagory page only shows videos:

videos
-africa
--morocco
---games
----dinifri (*c)
---vlog
----yyyymmdd

videos/africa/morocco/games/dinifri

My first assumption is that it is bad to duplicate the specific content and so at least (*a) should simply become a link to (*b) or perhaps vs versa.

But what about the duplication of continent and country catagory pages? Whilst games/africa will show only games content and route/africa will show a map of africa with general content below the map. Isn't this duplication of "africa" category name bad UX ?

The alrternative might be to use tags and search based menus, but I fear this dillutes the strength in a dependable URL hierarchy. Perhaps there are other ways overcome this burdensome structure.

share|improve this question
    
Welcome to UX.SE! This is a great question, +1! –  Benny Skogberg Sep 27 '12 at 6:22
    
@BennySkogberg Thank you. Recently I have been thinking that user needs for faceted navigation and search are at odds with traditional IA and SEO. It's like trying to bolt on an ever changing set of criteria onto a rigid and unchanging foundation. I'm afraid that I'm very new to this area and don't pretend to understand all the concepts thoroughly. –  timoto Sep 27 '12 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

Basically, you have a cube I guess enter image description here

Each of these boxes can have multiple entries, and it's not necessarily 3 games for each country.

I'd say, it doesn't really matter if you maintain one breadcrumb or multiple, what matters is to allow multiple entry points.

As far as I remember, users don't really look at the breadcrumbs, and they aren't the only way to tell the users where they are exactly in a content.

An example would be: enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for your input & diagrams! Yes, multiple entry points are what I need. The URLs in the question are there to illustrate IA, but true they could be a breadcrumb too. Yes I too had thought of "media" as a method to group and reduce the top level, but actually this term is not well accepted in testing. Videos, photos, sketches etc all need to be at the top. Do you think it matters if the IA matches all the given menu structure, or is that bad practice ? –  timoto Sep 26 '12 at 19:09

I am going to answer your question in two parts:

Can this be done and do users understand it Yes, because I have seen this done in a a few internal microsoft sites especially for the ones dealing with market research where each product category is further divided into country specific categories and these country specific categories are replicated across each product category. For example,the continent Asia might be replicated across xbox, Windows,Windows Phone, Games etc. People do understand the relation that a country can be applied to several different categories and dont have an issue trying to relate to it from my experience:

Is it a good practice: Well going by this article on design practices of breadcrumbs ,it does not seem so:

Do not use breadcrumbs when sections are categorized in multiple categories. Breadcrumb trails work best in static hierarchies where each item is placed in one category.

I know I havent really answered your question but I would say if you define your sitemap in such a way that your different "africa" categories are independent of each other and can be distinctively separated, you should be good to go since users can relate to the fact that a continent can have different attributes.

Another alternative approach would be to go with an approach where you could go with :

Africa --> Morocco as the top level category and then have games,videos and routes in the secondary level category :

--route ---route games ----route dinifri (*a) ---route videos ---route photos ---sketches ---travelog

The difference here is that I have modified the names lightly to ensure that the user traversing this information flow is able to understand what videos and games and photos are being to referred to.

Look at the example from overstock below to see how the kind of furniture is clearly called out

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you for you feedback. yes, it can be done, and your citation suggests it's not good practice given the duplication of category sections. I too had thought of placing the 1st and 2nd level as you suggest, but I feel strongly that the topics of games, videos, photos, sketches, and travelog are prime candidates for 1st level too as preliminary user testing for card sort and tree test have shown me. –  timoto Sep 26 '12 at 18:13

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