Project Proposal for a New World Information Architecture Website

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The World Information Architecture Association (WIAA) hosts World IA Day and supports global initiatives to spread the information architecture practice. WIAA brings together local communities and runs the largest global conference about information architecture.

WIAA needs to redesign its website. Continue reading to learn more about the reasons for the redesign and the proposed procedure. The following proposal is based on a structure developed at Amazon called a “6-pager”. We’ll share why and how we are using this Amazon “6-pager” in a later post.

1. Summary

We want to redesign the website of the World Information Architecture Association (WIAA) to fulfill the goals of our organization and those of our stakeholders. The quality of the IA and the content of WIAA’s website is crucial to demonstrate our authority in these fields and give the organization credibility. We also want to replace the current CMS with one which supports these goals and which can be handled by a broader range of people. Because of limited resources, we are planning a staggered approach, starting with the launch of an MVP (minimum viable product).

The World IA Day website does not fulfill the goals of the WIAA organization in different respects:

  • It was built for the World IA Day annual event and does not reflect the organization’s recent development to the professional association WIAA is striving to become.
  • Neither the users’ needs nor the organizations’ goals are reflected.
  • The implementation of the content management system (CMS) we are using is hard to maintain with the limited resources and skills we have. Also, it is no longer being supported.
  • The current website does not support the organization’s needs in respect to information architecture and content management.

2. Goals

This project is primarily a content project to sharpen our messages according to the needs of the organization (now World IA Association and no longer only World IA Day) and its stakeholders. Also, we want to implement a CMS which is easy to manage and to update. It should be possible to easily add new areas when the organization continues to develop.

In a nutshell, our new website shall show the authority, credibility, and success of the organization to increase findability of and support for the organization. It shall also make the organization’s products and services findable and understandable to all stakeholders and call these stakeholders to action.

We created a prioritized list of stakeholders of the organization, their needs, and the organization’s goals in respect to each group of stakeholders (who). Based on this list, we defined our communication goals, i.e. the actions we want the users to take and/or the desired outcomes for the organization (what). We have also identified the places required to reach these goals (where). In the concept phases of the project, the project team shall develop the details on how to achieve these goals. It shall focus on the content we need in the future. It is not a project to only rearrange the current content. Due to limited resources, we want to start by creating a MVP (minimum viable product. See chapter 5. Strategic Priorities for more on the MVP.

3. Principles

The principles are the basis for our content guidelines. Some also play a role in technical implementation.

They shall be implemented in the content and/or the way the content is communicated (text and other formats, visual design etc.)

  • Welcoming. World IA Association is friendly, inclusive, supportive, and approachable. We want to meet people where they are and make all kinds of visitors (stakeholders) feel welcome, understood, and valuable as members of the community.
  • Easy to understand. One of the driving outcomes of good information architecture is to make complex things easy to understand. This relies on creating logical structure, clear relationships, and using the appropriate formats (from copy in plain language to audiovisual means).
  • Findable. The content shall be optimized for search engines (SEO).
  • Accessible. We want to make our information accessible to everyone. The site must be compliant with W3C web accessibility standards.
  • Multilingual. The site shall support multiple languages. This is not a requirement for the MVP, but it is a requirement for the selection of an adequate CMS.

4. Analysis of the Situation

Not having a focused website has most likely turned away interested community members, sponsors, and event attendees. The website does not fulfill our communication needs, and the CMS is difficult to handle and not up-to-date.

Example page of WIAD website with a map showing the locations of the 2024 World IA Day.

The World IA Day website was built in 2018 using Drupal CMS with the establishment of World IA Day as a non-profit organization independent from the Information Architecture Institute (IAI). The website and its information architecture has been focusing on the one-day annual event celebrating information architecture around the world. The project was conducted in collaboration with a sponsor. The project was originally scoped just for the collection of the videos of the recorded talks, but somehow included the complete redesign of the website. The budget was spent on a developer team, meaning it didn’t go very far. While there was complete scope creep, the content collection wasn’t completely built out.

In 2020 an update for Drupal 9 was done, and with the World IA Day organization attempting to broaden its activities, new pages were introduced to spread awareness of the organization and to promote information architecture as a discipline. Currently, we are dependent on an outdated content management system that hasn’t been updated since its initial launch in 2018.

There have been multiple attempts since trying to get the redesign of the website going, including internship attempts and practitioner attempts. None of them have succeeded.

We have gathered all information available from these previous attempts in an internal analysis document to make all available information accessible and to avoid redundant work.

5. Strategic Priorities

We want to create an MVP (minimum viable product) of the website which supports the goals of our primary current stakeholders and the core messages of our organization in respect to these.

This project is primarily a content project to sharpen our messages according to the needs of the organization and its stakeholders. It must focus on the content we need in the future. While it is not a project to only rearrange the current content, it may reuse the current content (particularly in the first stages of the MVP), and it shall also propose which existing content to remove. The IA and the navigation (including its display) must support the content goals.

We want to start with an MVP to show that the organization is active in pursuing the goal of a new website. The advantage of creating an MVP for the primary current stakeholders is that it can be launched sooner than a full-fledged website. It shall be launched in a timely way and expanded in further iterations.

What do we mean by MVP?

We will decide on the exact definition of our MVP after we have agreed on the concept at the according milestone. The MVP shall convey the essence of the concept. Further parts shall be added in a staggered way. The IA and the CMS must be robust enough to support the planned expansion.

What we know now is that we will

  • Prioritize content production, i.e. not all content will be final at launch of the MVP (based on the prioritization of stakeholders we have already made and the feasibility of production)
  • Prioritize technical implementation, i.e. not all planned elements and functionalities will be available at launch
  • Prioritize interfaces with other systems (e.g. our internal platform Coda, the content collection (past talks), form builders etc.)

The content in respect to the other stakeholders (primary future as well as secondary stakeholders) as well as entirely new content shall be added in a staggered form.

Course of action

To implement the MVP, there are 3 core tasks

  • a. Project management: Project organization, resources (human, financial, time)
  • b. Development of concept and visual design
  • c. Implementation (technical, content) and filling in of content (“migration”).

a. Project management

  • Project organization
  • Project leader: preferably with experience in this field. Responsibilities: Lead team (allocate tasks, mentor sub-teams, coordinate sub-teams, organize meetings on a regular basis for exchange with teams); plan time, budget and decision points (milestones); prepare material for sounding board and milestone meetings
  • Team: Responsible for carrying out small tasks with clear goals in sub-teams of 2
  • Sounding board: Responsible for allocation of budget, definition of success criteria and approval of milestones
  • Resources: In a first step, we need to estimate the resources necessary for the MVP once we have a clearer idea of it. The second step is to plan for these resources (human, financial, time).

b. Development of concept

  • Analysis: Get to know current website, available background, user needs and benchmarks (websites of similar organizations) based on the information already available. Do NOT start from scratch, just summarize or fill in gaps where necessary.

i. Concept phase 1 (basic concept)

  • Develop IA, content elements, functionalities and exemplary content of main areas of the website (wireframes, prototype). The IA must support future growth and findability, be based on reusable content to avoid redundancy. avoid redundancy with with other systems in our ecosystem, e.g. of locations.
  • Carry out usability tests with representatives of major stakeholders (particularly organizers, sponsors/partners) and adapt concept accordingly.

ii. Development of MVP and plan for the future

  • Plan stages: Content, quality (e.g. existing vs. new) and timelines
  • Consider different possibilities
  • Propose success measures

iii. Approval of concept (milestone), specific MVP and plan for the future, and success measures

This is the premise for all detailed work, both concerning concept, CMS selection and planning

iv. Concept phase 2 (detailed concept)

All products shall discriminate between what is necessary for the MVP and what can be postponed

  • Produce visual design (responsive design)
  • Document for implementation: Content guidelines (goals,principles of UX writing, SEO, use of elements and formats etc.); transfer concept into technical implementation in a project management tool.

v. CMS selection
In parallel to concept phase 2. Essential in respect to cost of implementation.

vi. Content planning

  • Assess current content (see existing audit) and plan what new content needs to be produced (and in which formats), what current content to reuse (1:1 or rework) and what to remove/archive
  • Prioritize content production for MVP, i.e. staggered planning
  • Plan resources for implementation (iterations, human resources for production and QA).

vii. Project marketing

  • Communication measures, project marketing (internal, external, i.e. for community, IA elders, (potential) sponsors and partners)
  • Fundraising (sponsors, in kind contributions, crowdsourcing, …)

viii. Plan for maintenance and further development of the website (editorial plan, roles and responsibilities, monitoring of success, CMS maintenance etc.)

c. Implementation

i. Technical implementation

  • Backend (CMS)
  • Frontend — if necessary
  • Interfaces to other systems

ii. Content production

  • Outline of each page/element
  • QA of outline to make sure it achieves the desired outcomes (stakeholders, org, accordance with guidelines)
  • Actual production (copy, images, videos etc.; possibly translations)

iii. “Migration” of content into CMS and QA

iv. Go-Live

v. Operation of new website

  • Produce content (according to editorial plan including further steps of staggered planning into account)
  • Maintain CMS (e.g. maintenance contract)
  • Monitor success and take measures if necessary

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