A free comprehensive guide for evaluating site structures

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If we’re working with a project team, we have an advantage in generating ideas for site trees – other people’s minds.

Different people have different backgrounds, different knowledge, and different biases, and if we share our IA research with them, they are likely to come up with new and useful ideas for our site structure.

When we’re working with a project team, we typically do the following:

  1. Distribute the results of our research (e.g. findings from our card sort and other related studies).

  2. Meet to review the research and show everyone how to “rough out” a site tree (see below).

  3. Ask each person to take an hour at their desk to rough out 1 or 2 tree ideas.

  4. Meet again to review everyone’s trees.
    We start with “show and tell”, then we discuss the various approaches and pick 2-3 trees that we want to pursue.

  5. Assign a person to each candidate tree to flesh it out for testing.

For easy collaboration, we use a shared spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheets or equivalent) with:

  • A tab for the existing site structure (if any)

  • A tab with a list of the content areas that the site needs to cover (from our content audit)

  • A tab named after each person

  • Later, tabs for the candidate trees that we will flesh out


Using a shared spreadsheet means that we don’t have to email spreadsheets to each other, and each person can “peek” at what others are doing to help them get going.


Next: Roughing out alternative trees 

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