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How Simple IA Changes Grew Our Client’s Pageviews over 100% for Key Pages

Oct 12 '18

At Third & Grove, we believe that the output of digital strategy is the input to (killer) design. Great design on its own doesn’t make a great website. Feeding clearly defined goals and analytics data insights into the design process are the only path to a great website.

We recently launched refinements to the primary navigation of an influential and well-known US research and development lab. The IA of the site suffered from most of the common issues we see: It was written from an insider's perspective, had items that didn’t serve conversion goals, and data had not been part of the IA conversation before.

The results were fantastic when comparing each section to pre- and post-changes:

  • Pageviews for Solutions increased 108%

  • Pageviews for the News section increased 106%

  • Pageviews for the Careers section increased 48%

The most important change we made was removing the additional clicks needed to open the collapsed menu. We implemented an open-structured menu across the entire top of the page so that when people hover over a menu item, the secondary pages are automatically displayed in a dropdown. To emphasize the client’s most important pages of the site (those three above), we placed a large CTA above the fold on the homepage to lead people to our target pages immediately upon landing.

During this time period, overall site pageviews increased just 24%, so each of the above increases tremendously beat the general rising of the tide. We also didn’t make any changes to the content on the home page, this change was mostly isolated for the data above.

Now, increasing pageviews isn’t an important goal in and of itself. In some cases, more pageviews might be good (one way to improve conversion is simply to drive more traffic) and in some cases more might be bad (like when what you really care about is engagement metrics like time on site or number of pages visited). For this client, pageviews were critical. Both the Solutions and News sections are important conversion spots for visitors to fill out the lead generation form (this was a B2B client) and more traffic to the News section indicated that the prominence of the organization was heightened.

How You Can Improve Your Own Information Architecture (IA)

The easiest wins for improving your digital engagement are often found in optimizing your information architecture (IA), and more specifically your primary navigation. Why? Because serious IA flaws are the most common issues we see when starting work with clients and often the most fertile ground for rapid improvements.

Information architecture is very hard for organizations to get right because the path to good IA is full of contradicting interests from stakeholders within the organization:

  1. IA is often defined by an organization for an organization - All too often the first pass at creating the IA, the IA that exists on the site today, was created by a member of the organization attempting to project the internal organizational structure outward.

  2. IA is often initially defined without data - Similar to the peril #1, no matter the method you use to initially craft IA the end result will be suboptimal unless you start with data.

  3. IA improvements start from the existing IA - The reason most people miss the easy engagement wins in IA is they start the IA optimization process by the existing IA. If you take that approach you are accepting all of the existing baggage built into the existing structure. It’s better to start with a blank slate and use your clearly defined goals and analytics insights to build up the IA from scratch.

  4. Jargon grows like a weed in IA - Similar to peril #1, organizations often insist on pushing internal (or ever industry sector) jargon into the IA. Site visitors may not know anything about your business or your sector. Avoid jargon.

  5. The IA includes items that don’t need to be there - This is especially a problem in primary navigation because primary navigation is highly visible on every page and is thus high stakes. With high stakes comes attention, tension, and fear, all emotions that require careful management by a project leader. This is why IA so often has items that aren’t core to the goals of the site because people view leaving an item in the navigation as less risky than leaving it out when it might be needed.

 

Here are a few tips on how to find your own easy digital engagement wins:

  • Go back to first principles and ask “Is there really a reason we have to do this the way it has been done?” Challenge presented assumptions.

  • Build up the navigation from scratch.

  • Don’t be afraid to do less, as less is often more and it’s easy to do more later.

  • Remember the CEO who said “If we have data, we are using that. If all we have are opinions, we’re going with mine”.

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