SESLondon: Next Generation Site Architecture: Maximising Usability & Findability

Next Generation Site Architecture: Maximising Usability & Findability

This session focused on how to build your site to maximise with both usability and findability; a combination of the knowledge of Maile Ohye (Google's Developer Programs Tech Lead) and Alan Perkins (Silverdisc.co.uk).
First and foremost Perkins provided a succinct definition of both these terms for which to assess your website against:

Usability
Taken from Steve Krug's book "Don't make me think" Alan determined that for a website to be successful at being usable it must be able to be utilised by a user, who might even have below average experience without them deeming it not worth the effort and giving up.
In my eyes, this is the perfect definition of usability when it comes to a website. Think of it as the "Mum Test" if your mum is anything like mine and a bit computer illiterate, then the basic rule is if she wouldn't be able to use it then you probably need to rethink your design.

Findability
All about the importance of actually being able to discover the content on a site, as well as the site itself. Think back to this morning's blogging session, great content isn't great unless it reaches people... Well nor is a website architecture.

Perkins was then up for the second Star Trek reference of the day explaining that next generation isn't a total regeneration of architecture but just a way to show the progressions in owned sites and development of incorporating other features such as social media into your structure.

Alan also showed the audience an image of how they develop the persona of their customer; the best way to imagine this is a cross between top trumps and online dating. Imagine a fact card with your target persona and then underneath their likes and dislikes, their job etc. then make a team of 10 of these and make sure your website targets each one of these personae fully.

Maile Ohye from Google focused on a series of do's and don'ts for architecture from the search engine perspective.

The best way to optimise your site is to target the same areas that Google does:
-user experience
-relevance
-comprehensiveness
-speed

Maile covered so much it's impossible to sum up in just one post so definitely catch up on the details from her blog, however, what really caught my attention was the new Google solution to infinite scroll and click to load pages (demo to be released 13/02/14 on her very own blog). Imagine you're scrolling through one of those endless sites, but as a user interaction is needed to load more/but the URL remains the same Google can only crawl the top set of content. However, the pagination coding will allow an almost invisible page break to provide a new URL with page number as you scroll, almost like a vertical book.

You can see why Maile was excited about telling everyone this.

In fact, this is an important takeaway from the session today; Maile and Alan both were keen to make site architecture accessible and simple, without losing out on valuable features. Their talks were not simply showing off how much they knew (just for the record, they know a lot) but instead focused on sharing the knowledge in an easy to understand way with clear demos and examples.

Feb 13 2014
Hannah Thorpe
Hannah Thorpe

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