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I'm going to get started on a new project mainly focused on information architecture. The IA of the site I'll work on is extremely messy, complicated and not logical at all. We need to completely redesign the IA and I need to come up with the best UX strategy. I obviously thought of methods such as card sorting and domain model.

It would be great to have your views on that :)

Thanks for your help.

  • Interesting question. I'd like to see what other approaches people have. After taking a content inventory I would have said card sort / domain model approach too. – Wander Mar 27 '15 at 13:55
  • What are the dimensions of the app and the team? 1 page? 1000 pages? 1 person? 100 persons? What skillset (visual? UX? Dev? Marketing? Pm?) – tohster Mar 27 '15 at 18:32
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I think you're missing a key step which is audience personas. Who is the IA marketed at and what are their needs? When you have that, you can think from the users perspective. Then i would do card sorting from the audience point of view. You also need to have a concrete objective to make sure everything relates back to what you want to achieve.

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Working on a project with a quite tight schedule and a complex IA structure we decided throw great chuncks of the previous structure over board –– to break with big/great ux strategies and boil things down to the following probably a bit unorthodox approach:

  • First things first – and the rest will follow.

We first identified the key functionalities / the core content types of the website. Then we built the cms, the navigation and first templates as close to the requirements (that we rendered from the key functionalities and core content types) as possible, assuring the editors will be happy and the core will get enough feed to start 'glowing'. Then we built everything else around that.

The project is still in the making, work in progress, lots of decisions and adjustments to be made on the fly – but so far everybody seems to be happy. We already know we'll have everything really important up and running in time – and everything else is just everything else.

PS: I have to admit it's not really easy to pursuade the client that this approach is the right approach – but a tight schedule and a great portion of trust helps getting things rolling.

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First you need a communication strategy in phase with the strategic plan of the organization. The messy look of the IA is probably the consequence of no focus, no concrete objectives and too many people deciding what to put on the web site. The result is cacophony. Your first task is to get to know what this web site is supposed to do. Matt is right. Next, focus on the users because ultimately this web site is an instrument to communicate with the users. Their needs and wants will determine the IA.

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I am missing which website we are talking about. Depending on that the process can be shorten or longer.

I would suggest to first do an inventory list and have a full list of all the sitemap. Then in order to redesign the IA and if possible to also combine pages together this flow might be useful:

  • create personas
  • list the main use cases
  • create the journey of the users to cover all touch points
  • list the template pages you found
  • Card sorting - With the last list you can create the card sorting in order to find the best grouping for your information. Also you will find most of the connections between the pages

IMHO go with the familiar and similar in the web to allow discoverability and findability for your users as ease as possible. Nice article about the topic http://www.nngroup.com/articles/navigation-ia-tests/

The process is a bit long so feel free to find your shortcuts to make it possible.

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