Archives for category: information architecture

ideapark: homepage navigation

Good information architecture doesn’t always take the form of a high school English paper outline (although this is a good standby).

Here’s another option: the signpost.

ideapark, a brand experience agency in Minneapolis, is doing the signpost very, very well.

Navigation

Even those of us who didn’t grow up on M.A.S.H. re-runs know the signpost metaphor. It’s message is clear: “If you want this, go here; if you want that, go there.” It doesn’t get simpler than that, and simple is always better.

Information Architecture

The signpost metaphor is best for a site with more breadth than depth. Transactional and informational sites would not be best served by the signpost metaphor. The ideapark site is primarily an awareness site: “Hello, we’re ideapark and here’s why/when you need us.”

User Experience

ideapark’s implementation of the signpost metaphor is a stellar example of form and function playing well together. Page transitions are smooth and preserve a sense of movement without making the user seasick. The graphic treatment is consistent and crisp without being gaudy or becoming a barrier to what the user is here to learn or do.

(GoodShovel Rant: Flash-based splash pages can go die in a fire. Nothing makes me want to evacuate a site faster than a splash page mocking my attempts to get at the site’s substance by making me sit through a ridiculous, inaccessible disco ball pirouetting around some agency’s outdated logo.)

My only suggestion is to spend some time on optimized accessibility. The site goes all kinds of wonky when you turn off CSS and doesn’t work at all when you turn off JavaScript.

That said, I assume the target audience for this site is companies and organizations who need an external perspective and skill set to accomplish their branding needs. Most users in this demographic are going to have CSS and JavaScript enabled on their desktops and mobile devices. Still, it never hurts to be thorough.

Content

ideapark’s identity page is three paragraphs: purpose, approach and culture. No subpages with poorly posed photographs of the staff. No timeline of the company’s inception. Just what the user is actually here to learn.

Let the slow-clap begin.

Advertisements

First, I’m a fan.

The redesign will do wonders for information architecture (visual heirarchy on the homepage, as well as throughout the site) and for communication of context (see slide #5). Check out a full article and slideshow preview.

Second, because we all get sharper when we cut our teeth on one another’s bones, my one persnickety comment:

I don’t understand the need for a “New” badge to indicate the most recently published stories. What is that feed of titles if not the most recently published? There’s a brief note on videos being organized along matrices of both publication date and popularity, but I didn’t see a similar note for featured articles.

Still, big ups. This is a refreshing redesign, and I’m looking forward to the launch.