Design4Drupal: Designing navigation for humans
I presented an introductory session on information architecture at the Design4Drupal conference on July 20, 2023.
Thank you to all of the IA thinkers whose work I discussed in this presentation, and to the colleagues who provide input and constructive feedback.
Fundamentally, a website is built for users to navigate information—but designing navigation can be a mysterious part of the process. For important elements like menus and search, we may struggle to decide on a structure, or to give it due attention while busy with other aspects of the project. For the global navigation menu, menu items are sometimes chosen casually; sometimes through political compromise rather than thoughtful UX.
This session, presented by information architecture and UX strategy consultant Dan Zollman, introduces approaches that will help you make confident decisions about website navigation. Beyond guessing, brainstorming, or even card sorting, we’ll discuss how effective information architecture (IA) is grounded in core conceptual models for the business and its audiences. Along the way, we’ll cover principles for making navigation systems user-friendly.
- How humans navigate: information-seeking behaviors, and other basic cognitive principles, that impact how you’ll organize content
- The difference between a website’s conceptual structure, its sitemap, and its menu structure
- Using concept modeling as a first step to define website structure, as well as your content model in the CMS/Drupal
- The four main goals that a site’s main menu, specifically, should achieve
- Tips on arriving at the final labeling & classification for a navigation menu
Slides and speaker notes
These slides and notes will be available for a limited time.
Fonts and layout in these exported slides have some differences from the actual presentation. Apologies for any readability issues.
Introductions to information architecture in general
- Andy Fitzgerald’s article series beginning with “What Is Information Architecture?”
- Abby Covert’s articles and newsletter
- Dan Brown’s article series on LinkedIn exploring the idea of conceptual structure in information architecture
Shorter and/or more accessible books:
- Lisa Maria Marquis, Everyday Information Architecure
- Donna Spencer, A practical guide to information architecture (2nd edition)
- Abby Covert, How to Make Sense of Any Mess
- Jorge Arango, Living in Information
- Jesse James Garrett, The Elements of User Experience (book and five planes diagram)
- Lou Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, and Jorge Arango, Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond
- Luca Rosati and Andrea Resmini, Pervasive Information Architecture: Designing Cross-Channel User Experiences (see also table of content and introduction, PDF)
- Andrew Hinton, Understanding Context
- Andrew Hinton’s talk, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Navigation”
- Marcia Bates: the berrypicking model and other influential work.
- Donna Spencer, “Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them”
- Dan Ramsden’s articles and tools for navigation and information seeking design (see linked blog posts and other resources)
Modeling & diagramming
- Dan Brown, “Six Patterns for Modeling Concepts”
- Abby Covert, Stuck? Diagrams Help.
- Joe Elmendorf & The Understanding Group: Modeling for Clarity Workshop
- Sophia Prater’s Object-Oriented UX and object mapping techniques: A List Apart article and website with resources and sources
Structure & navigation
- Dan Brown: Information Architecture Lenses and the IA Lenses card deck is an excellent toolkit for thinking through, making decisions on, and evaluating IA and navigation design at a nuanced level. See also the A Lens A Day interview series and podcast.