Podcast 36: Developing your site structure

Paul Boag

In this week’s show, Paul gets depressed about the state of online accessibility, we debate the virtues of user testing design and discuss the basics of creating a good structure for your site.

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Developing your site structure

Organising the content of your site into a logical, user friendly structure is fundamental to its success. In this week’s show Paul and Marcus look at how to go about this process and some of the pitfalls you should avoid.

There is nothing particularly high tech about creating a good information architecture. The best place to start is by making a list of all of the content your site needs to cover. Print out each item on a separate piece of paper and start organising them together into logical groupings. It really is as simple as that.

Of course, even better than you organising the content into logical sections, is getting your users to do it for you. That is where card sorting comes in. In the podcast we discuss card sorting in more depth but most of what is cover can be found in the boagworld article on card sorting.

The conversation moves on to discuss the common mistakes made by those creating a site structure. Most of the points discussed are covered by Louis Rosenfeld’s excellent article: "Seven Pitfalls to Avoid in Information Architecture" so we recommend you take the time to read it.

Question time: Can you user test design?

In last week’s show Andy Budd and Paul took slightly different positions over whether it is possible to user test design work. In this week’s show Paul explains how he believes user testing can be beneficial to the design process, allowing for the resolution of design differences and enabling the testing of emotional responses to design.

Techno-buster: Different server side languages

The vast majority of the clever functionality we see on websites today is created through the use of "sever side languages". These programming languages allow a variety of functionality from content management systems to ecommerce sites. However with so many different languages out there it can all seem incredibly confusing. In this podcast Paul and Marcus explains how the average website owner shouldn’t have to make decisions about programming languages, but rather this is the responsibility of the developer. Different languages have different pros and cons, however in most cases it is down to personal preference. However, make sure that your website server supports your chosen language before development begins.

The state of web accessibility

Following Joe Clark’s hard sitting article about the WCAG 2.0 on the List Apart website, there has been much debate about the state of web accessibility. Paul and Marcus share some of their concerns and comment on the Web Standards Project response to Joe’s article.