We're doing an entire redesign of a website of a bank. (I made a simple scheme of the IA with some main categories -Insurance, Loans, CC, Bank accounts- in reality it's a bit more complicated)

In the current website the main categories are placed in the main navigation, when the user hovers over let's say 'Insurance' he sees a dropdown with related insurance products. So far so good.

But once you're logged in, 'My Car Insurance' is categorized under 'Insurance', 'My Bank Account X' under 'Bank Accounts', meaning all your personal stuff gets scattered all over the website. User tests already showed that the current IA isn't working, users simply don't go to 'Insurance' to look for 'My Car Insurance', especially if you have a category called 'MyAccount'.

The obvious solution woud be to place all your personal stuff in 'MyAccount'. But the bank people are not convinced, blaming the problem on the current visual design and technical implementation, which isn't optimal either but not the main problem in my opinion.

We've already experienced that the client is more easily convinced if you can back up your idea with some kind of theory. Something like 'how people categorize', or 'how people think',... but I can't think of a good explanation myself.

Anyone have any good suggestions? Thanks!!

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  • 1
    Could you imagine if sites like Facebook followed the non-working IA? Oh man... Imagine if all of your stuff was hidden around the site and not visible from your timeline or news feed.
    – Mike
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 15:08
  • Run a UX survey at UsabilityHub and show your client the results. EVERYONE would expect quick links to their personal account related data from the 'My Account' screen.
    – zigojacko
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 15:47
  • Have they provided any examples of their preferred approach being used successfully elsewhere? I can't think of any.
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


The problem is your requirements just time travelled here from the 90s. Not everything fits into one category, there are overlaps and both your backend data structure and front end user interface should reflect this.

I recommend moving from a top-down nested structure to a horizontal mesh structure. You could relate this to Yahoo having nested directories for all webpages, but actually most websites fit into a few categories. So Google took over and indexed all web pages and made a ui where you can see a result in two unique searches.

I recommend having an interface for adding items, and an interface for viewing items.

When adding items (where an item exists on a horizontal level with all others) the user can 'tag' (how you implement the UI is another question) it with some categories (insurance, personal, whatever). That way one item can be in Insurance and in Personal.

The second view would be derived from cateogies/tags/whatever, so for example the insurance view would show all items tagged insurance.

If your business logic doesn't allow for this (an item must be one thing or another), then either your user analysis is wrong or you need to optimise the part of the UI which lets the user set a category for an item.

This has been a broad answer without going into detail, but your question was also broad. Refine it with some more specifics and I'll happily refine my answer to match (and hopefully help!).


It might help to show screenshots of highly successful sites. Some that are rated well are USAA and Bank of America. They have the structure you are describing I think; products and services users are currently enrolled in as a dashboard type interface. Dashboards are incredibly popular in financial services and I'm sure referencing Mint.com and others will help. In short, for stuff users already have there should be no clicking around just like at a bank the teller knows all your accounts once you slide your card. Why would the teller ask you to choose CC first? If you can show quicker access and best practices in the field you should be good. If their concern is lack of up-sell opportunities, try digging in by asking more questions about why they want those buckets. It could be an easy fix of adding info about bundling (like insurance do car + home insurance and get a discount). You may need to learn more about their business objectives and pair them with the user objectives to optimize for both.


If you are debating with clients who want theories and numbers, then perhaps conducting a card sort of your taxonomy structure would be useful. Often, taxonomy can feel arbitrary to users and it can be imposed on them without truly understand with they do and do not know. But using a card sorting exercise is a simple and straightforward way to create a taxonomic structure that your audience will understand. Here's a great article on card sorting.

There are two types of sorting methods:

  • open sort - users create their own categories for the cards
  • closed sort - users must sort the cards into provided categories.

If you're open to renaming the categories you have, use an open sort. If not, then a closed sort would be best.

You can do the sort in-person or online. Here's a list of online resources.

After the sorting is complete, you will have numbers and examples of what users said to back you up.

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