For most companies, the website is a constantly-evolving tool serving multiple audiences and supporting a variety of internal initiatives. This complexity can make the development of an information architecture challenging when so many groups have a seat at the table. In these situations, stakeholder interviews during a redesign project discovery phase can go a long way towards helping the strategy and design teams better understand the overall goals of the project while creating buy-in and alignment within the client’s organization.
Identify the “Pain Points”
Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand what the goals are for a project because groups within the client’s organization have different priorities for the new site. For instance, Marketing may need landing pages that are more flexible for new project promotions or releases while HR might be concerned with improving the usability and accessibility of the more locked-down careers section of the site. Stakeholder interviews can help paint a more complete picture of a company’s needs and issues than what might be explicitly called out in the project’s original RFP. This more precise picture can be extremely helpful in developing a winning information architecture that meets everyone’s needs.
Within a large organization, there are always varying levels of enthusiasm about a website redesign project. Groups who feel marginalized in the current site iteration are often highly engaged while groups that are happy with their current position on the site may be more resistant to change. Holding stakeholder sessions can help both types of groups to feel involved in the strategic planning for the new site. This upfront inclusion ensures that all stakeholder groups are invested in the discovery process and feel in control of their department’s goals for the new site.
Focus on the Big Picture
When developing an information architecture, it’s common for stakeholders to get sidetracked by the granular details related to content or even design concepts early on in the project rather than focusing on the more general structure of information from a user’s perspective. While this level of detail is important in a finalized IA and subsequent project phases, getting sidetracked with nitty-gritty content layout or design concept questions early on in the process can slow momentum. Holding interviews early in discovery will encourage stakeholders to think about the site’ s structure more generally without getting confusedwhen they haven’t started thinking about the organization of their own content yet.
A well-thought out information architecture is a critical component to a successful website redesign and development project. Taking the time to conduct stakeholder interviews as part of your discovery process will help ensure that you develop a winning IA that marries both stakeholder and site audience needs.