News and developments in the community.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Improving Website Navigation

On the afternoon of November 12, I'll be having a session on Web Navigation. This topic was heavily inspired by the book Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach. The main premise for the workshop is whether you are planning a new website or revising an existing one, it is important that we keep ourselves focused on what we want to achieve that includes why are we doing it, how can we meet the needs of our target users, among others.

We need to do an information search process that tends to reflect the action, thoughts, and feelings of the site visitor and what can we do to meet them. An example can be like in the case of DigitalFilipino users.

1. Initiation: Recognize need to look for e-commerce information.
2. Selection: Choose appropriate resources.
3. Searching: Locate relevant articles.
4. Differentiation: Prioritize search results.
5. Deciding: Determine which article is most relevant.
6. Monitor: Check site over time for additional articles.
7. Action: Join the mailing list or subscribe to the RSS feed or join the club.

Each item above requires understanding on the actions, thoughts, and feelings of the user (and their persona) which will also compel site owners like me to provide features and that will arrive on the kind of business return that I want to get from it such as awareness, referrals, gaining trust or relationship, potential book buyers or club members later on.

In addition, this also forces me to review my site navigation, labels, menu, among others whether I'm leading users to the things that they need and what I want to achieve.

If the e-business operates in a cut throat market such as those selling various gift products, evaluating the competitor's web navigation and labeling methods versus yours will be helpful as well.

Improving this will also require doing interviews and task analysis. One method that can help in this process is card sorting. This is where you write one item or content in your website per card. This gets shuffled and given to users. They then sort the card and create piles or groups. Afterwards, they give a meaningful name that represent each pile or group of cards. This process gives you a perspective on how prospective users classify the information that gets presented to them and may help you in developing your site's content structure. There are several online version of this that you can use such as as CardSword, CardSort, CardZort, among others.

There are several tools that can be used to have an initial check up on your website navigation. This includes: