IA Checklist


  1. Are we still talking to our primary target audience?
  2. Are our labels accurate and informative?
  3. Can any of our labels be misinterpreted?
  4. Are we speaking a language our audience understands?

  1. Does all our information fit together logically?
  2. Can visitors easily (logically) find the answers to the questions we asked during the role playing phase?
  3. Are any chunks of information left dangling somewhere without a logical place in the overall hierarchy?
  4. Is there a mechanism by which visitors can see what’s new on our site? (If not, do we need one?)
  5. Have we effectively established shared references?
  6. Have we established ourselves as a company to be trusted?
    Navigation and links

  1. Is our structure too wide? (Can some menus be consolidated effectively?)
  2. Is our structure too narrow and deep? (Do we need to split some menus up into more specific subjects?)
  3. Is there too much repetition of the same basic editorial content from one menu item to another?
  4. Can we reduce the number of clicks needed to reach the lowest levels without sacrificing understanding or logic?
  5. Are frequently accessed areas too far from the top level?
  6. Is related (contextual) information contained in different parts of the site properly linked? Is there a way to bundle it in an even more convenient way?
  7. Are links used consistently? What type of links can be determined? Are meaningful trigger words used?
    Individual Pages

  1. Do we really have something to say on each of the main category pages or are they merely glorified menus?
  2. Have some pages been created merely for the sake of completeness?
  3. If someone has submitted information or placed an order, are all the appropriate “Thank you” pages indicated?
    Goals and Growth

  1. Does the structure live up to our primary goals?
  2. Is the site meeting the goals of our target audience?
  3. Have we given people a reason to come back and visit again?
  4. Is the site prepared for growth and/or change in the future?
  5. Have we found our site’s USP? Is our product the hero?

Usability testing: essentials

  1. Usability testing is one of the most important aspects of professional website production.
  2. These task-based tests should ideally be conducted at regular intervals throughout the development process.
  3. Heuristic evaluations by usability experts provide valuable feedback regarding the generic usability of the site.
  4. You need to test actual members of the target audience – not just your colleagues in the office.
  5. Information architects are not the best people to carry out usability testing on their own sites. This should be left to impartial experts.
  6. Simple paper-based tests can show the information architect if labels are accurate and have the right scent.
  7. Structural prototypes can be used to identify navigational problems such as excessive pogo-sticking.
  8. During beta-tests of a nearly completed site, users can be asked to make comparisons and judgments in addition to factfinding.
  9. Usability tests provide hard facts. They don’t depend on your own “best guess.”

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p.170

Orphaned pages

“[Orphaned pages are] pages that can only be accessed by direct links from another page but that do not have a home in the site hierarchy.” (eg. disclaimer)

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p. 127

Pogo sticking

“Whatever you do, don’t cut something up into tiny pieces or force visitors to perform a lot of back and forth navigation. Navigation designers call this phenomenon ‘pogo-sticking’.”

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p. 117

Levels of detail for Web content – elevator speech

“Most communication experts agree that information can usually be presented with three levels of detail. A journalist writing a news article might define these

  1. headline
  2. lead
  3. full story

(…) Good journalists try to include answers to Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How in their lead (…)

In many respects, a good summary on a website (for a product, service, etc.) will try to accomplish the same thing. Salespeople use the term ‘elevator speech’ – what they would say to a potential customer if they only had a 30-second elevator ride during which to pitch their product.
In web-terms, the three levels of information are often as follows:

  1. Label
  2. Short summery
  3. Detailed presentation
  4. and possibly

  5. supporting evidence (contextual links) [and information]

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p. 114-5


“In information architecture terms, ‘scent’ refers to the hints a visitor gets from the words and types of words used to label particular subjects.”

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p. 107


“… many professional information architects use the word ‘serendipity’. In other words, visitors may be more likely to accidentally come across something that interests them that they would have missed if they had simply drilled down through a topical hierarchy.”

From: Reiss, E.L. (2000), Practical Information Architecture, Harlow: Pearson Education, p.74