Information Architecture - Part II "Ecommerce a full commitment for the Internet Retailer"

So your business has an online store website, now what?

Posted by WebOfficer on Thursday, May 12 2011

Ah, the eCommerce dream, everybody has one. Find some products, set up a shopping cart and launch the web store in hopes of raking in the dough. This dream is just as difficult for small businesses and large. Assuming you have your data in order, read “Data” - Part I, eCommerce a full commitment for the Internet Retailer the next area of focus is the website information architecture (IA).

Keeping pace in the eCommerce race on the Internet super-highway

Software or web development firms develop most websites with a set of default features and in some cases flaws. Depending on the nature of that design team, that website or eCommcere platform may perform well at certain facets and produce poor results in other areas of producing favorable results online. Like a car some vehicles leave the factory set up for average driver expatiation's, conditions and driving skills. Some are fast; some can haul while others are utilitarian. Imagine your eCommerce store in that same manner. Some perform well at getting traffic, some covert sales better, while others are out of this world beautiful. Many unfortunately fail on all accounts. Identification and assembly of good practices, look, performance, technology and content are just some. Many websites negatively impact their online properties with dis-functional information architectures.

Ecommerce performance on the Internet begins with information architecture

Traction on the road might be considered connecting online. In order for a web store to begin to compete in the search engine result pages, it has to be equipped. Websites are much more than words, images and videos, just as car is much more than four tires and a steering wheel.

  • Higher-ranking websites, especially enterprise or commercial level online stores have thoughtful information architectures.

This refers to how a website is organized. How the content is applied to each web document or page, how those pages are linked, grouped and related. IA becomes the foundation of how an eCommerce store can gain traction and how it connects with search engines and ultimately is awarded its relevance. To be clear, this is not the only ranking factor, but websites that rank well usually have very strong information architectures.

  • Wire-frames and sitemap construction are some the beginning tools used to identify how a website may be organized. In the future we will discuss how to assemble keywords and leverage a website’s IA.

The unseen role of information architecture in a website

The IA can be considered a frame or chassis for the rest of your website. Words, links, and assets are all woven together and mapped across the information architecture of a website. The transporting of semantics, messages and themes across many pages, categories and directories of a website are all dependent on how well the information can travel or be expressed along your website’s own internal information delivery system, the information architecture.

To visualize this, a supermarket has information architecture. It has thousands of products, dozens of aisles, hundreds of shelves, but with superior information architecture, you can enter the store, read a few signs, read a few tags on shelves and find what you need. Search engines are looking for what you have on your website, if they can find it and it is neatly organized and relates well to similar products your website is able to potentially validate and rank with relevancy a particular search engine query.

Information Architecture supports:

  • Titles
  • Captions
  • Excerpts
  • Headers
  • Content
  • Links
  • Navigation
  • Faceted navigation
  • Images
  • Videos

The content that resides on your information architecture compiled together to make up the website.