Information Architecture Update

We have done several things over the past two months that has impacted the Information Architecture for the college libraries website in one way or another. This is a good time to revisit the naming and labeling of all items. In testing the sketches and wireframe models there are a handful of changes that have been made that affect the naming of links and categories. In order to better understand how these changes have come about please read the following posts A revised information architecture and Part II Information Architecture Creation.

Here is an overview of the changes that have been made

  • Interlibrary Loan becomes ILLiad
  • Citing a Source becomes Citing Sources
  • Subject Guides becomes Resources by Subject
  • University Archives changed to become College Archives
  • Two new categories have been created for Online Resources – Government Information and Newspapers
  • Policies becomes Policies and Procedures
  • Two new categories have been created for Policies and Procedures – How to put something on reserve and Information Literacy
  • Categories have been added under Resources by Subject

These changes reflect the results of testing the sketches and prototypes with people. The two most significant changes are renaming Interlibrary Loan to become ILLiad and renaming Subject Guides to become Resources by Subject. The first change is because when a person selects a link and arrives at a new website or web page the name needs to be the same. When a person selected the link called Interlibrary Loan and then ended up on a website called ILLiad it was confusing to them. Renaming this link eliminates the confusion.

The second most dramatic change was to rename Subject Guides to become Resources by Subject. The phrase Subject Guides was not clear to all people who helped us test the sketches and wireframe models. In wireframe models A and C the phrase Resources by Subject was used and people found it easier to understand than Subject Guides.

Here is what the Information Architecture looked like before the changes

After the updates have been made

The categories appear on the Resources by Subject and Online Resources web pages. These have been included in the Information Architecture, so they would not be forgotten. The content that appears in the upper left hand corner of the diagram (Hours, Library Catalogs etc.) will appear on the home page of the website.

A revised information architecture

Today Patrick and I met to revise our information architecture based on feedback gathered from 7 individuals. This feedback allowed us to clarify content by changing the titles of some categories. For example, what was once “Databases” was renamed “Online Resources.” We’ve also decided to add the FAQ category back into the IA for testing purposes and have discussed the possibility of combining it with the Help category.

The next step is to begin sketching before moving onto creating and testing wireframes.

Here is what the information architecture looks like at the moment.

You can view a larger version by going to the following URL:

Part II Information Architecture Creation

After we finished placing all of the index cards into categories based upon the results of the card sort we began to talk about each one in more detail. As we began to look at each category we began to write down more terms on index cards that consisted of both content and subcategories for the website. For, example three subcategories were created and placed under the main category ‘Databases’. The sub categories are called:

  • Audio/Visual
  • Electronic Books
  • Articles

These subcategories are almost identical to the ones that were created by the fourth group that participated in the card sort. You can read about the categories they came up with in the post Card Sort Results by Group. The ‘Policies’ category was made into a subcategory and was placed under “About Us.

What the Information Architecture Looks Like

Here is what the tentative information architecture looks like in outline form:

  • Home
    • About Us
      • Crane Library
      • Crumb Library
      • University Archives
      • Employment
      • Policies
        • Borrowing Policy
        • Building Policy
        • Collection Development Policy
        • Course Reserves
        • Interlibrary Loan
    • Contact Us
    • Help
      • AskUs
      • Consultation Request
    • Citing a Source
    • Databases/Resources
      • Audio/Visual
      • Electronic Books
      • Articles
    • Subject
    • Site Map

Information Architecture layout

The following site map exists as a drawing that was created using Google docs.

You can view a larger image of the information architecture by going to the following URL:


The reason for using the word tentative is that it is now time to start testing the information architecture by showing it to a few people and getting feedback. After we get feedback we will than reevaluate what we have done and make any necessary changes.

We will be asking people the following questions:

  1. If you want to find out how you would get a library card what would you do?
  2. You are interested in finding out what type of equipment that you can check out from the Crane Library what would you select?
  3. If you wanted to call the University Archives to make an appointment what would you do?

Dan and I are both planning on testing out the information architecture with at least two to three people throughout the rest of the week. We are planning on meeting again early next week to talk about our findings and make any necessary changes. The next step in the project will be too start writing content and drawing sketches for the new website.

Information Architecture Creation Part I

Earlier this week Dan, Lauren, and myself got together for about an hour and half to start creating the information architecture for the college libraries website. We started off by briefly talking about the different categories that each group created during the card sort and how some items were easy for them to put into categories and others were not. After discussing the results briefly, I began to write down the common category names that were created by each group onto index cards and placed them on a large table.

Category Creation

The following items were written on index cards:

  • Citing a Source
  • Contact Us
  • Databases
  • FAQ’s
  • Libraries
  • Policies
  • Subject
  • About Us

The next step was to take the words used for the card sort and place them under these categories based upon the information that we gathered from the card sort a couple of weeks ago. As Dan and Lauren started to put things into categories, I mentioned that we do not have to use all of the items that appear on the index cards because some words and phrases were duplicated in one way or another. For example, the word ‘Jobs” was eliminate in favor of the word ‘Employment’. It was also decided that the phrase ‘print poster’ could be removed because it would only refer to a small number of students each semester who would be taking a class with a specific instructor. As part of the class a person from the libraries gives the class a presentation and the specific information they need.

In addition to the categories created during the card sort, we created a new category called ‘Help’ and placed the terms ‘Ask Us’ and ‘Consultation Request’ under it. At the moment this is a separate section; However, it will probably be incorporated into the design of the new college libraries website and thus the category could be eliminated. The advantage of incorporating it into the design is that the information would always be immediately available to someone making it easier for them to get assistance.

Along with eliminating duplicate items and creating new categories we talked briefly about the terms from the card sort that should probably be available on the home page of the college libraries website. The items that we came up with are:

  • Hours
  • Library Catalogs (BearCat, WorldCat)
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Reserves

Interlibrary Loan is a unique term because of what it allows you to do. Please read through the previous post Category Similarities for additional information. The term ‘Reserves’ is also another item that is important, but it is also hard to determine the best location for it to be located. How do I find a book on reserve? is a very common question that gets ask by many students. From a faculty perspective they want to know how to put a book on reserve. The process of trying to find a book on reserve is a very convoluted process that is more difficult to do then it should be; Therefore, providing information on the process is very important.

Removed Categories

When we started to place things into different categories we eliminated the ‘Libraries’ category in favor of ‘About Us’ instead. The results of the card sort indicated that the four groups used these terms interchangeable and placed the same items under either category. The FAQ’s category has also been eliminated for a couple of reasons. The first is that several of the questions that were used for the card sort were either directional or yes or no in nature. These questions are:

  • Do you have a fax machine?
  • Can I sign out a group study room?
  • Do you have a scanner?
  • Where are your copies?

You may be asking yourself why would you want to eliminate a directional question such as ‘Where are your copiers?’ or ‘Where are your bathrooms?’ It is our belief that these questions can best be answered in person and that the target audience would not be using the website to find the answer to these questions. The remaining questions used during the cart sort are:

  • How do I get a library card?
  • How do I find a book on reserve?

It was decided that the information required to ask these questions could be found in various locations of the website. Therefore it was determined that the FAQ category could be eliminated without making it difficult for a person to complete a task.

Category Similarties

In looking at the Card Sort Results by Group we can start to understand how people organize information together as it pertains to the library. The results indicate that several groups created some of the same categories as each other. For example, all four groups created a category called ‘Citing a Source’. There were a total of seven categories that at least three of the groups came up with.

Name Variations by Category

Two categories that were created by the groups had several name variations, but they each had one common word within the phrase. The first category was the use of ‘libraries’ and ‘library’ that was part of the phrase that was created by three of the groups. The phrase variations are:

  • College Libraries
  • Libraries
  • Library Facilities

The second category used the word ‘subject’ as part of the phrase and it was also created by three of the four groups. The phrase variations for this term are:

  • Search by Subject
  • Subject Focused
  • Research by Subject

One group used the word ‘major’ instead of the word ‘subject’ for the same category. Regardless of the phrase that a group used they put the same items into the category. This category consisted of the following items:

  • Anthropology
  • Chemistry
  • Communications
  • Education
  • English
  • Math
  • Music

Common Categories

When you start looking at the results from the card sort in detail there are certain trends that begin to appear. Several of the groups came up with similar categories; However, the placement of items varied from one group to another. Along with several similarities amongst all of the groups there are also items that were treated much differently. As mentioned before in previous posts Overview of Card Sort Results and Card Sort Results by Group the phrase AskUs and AskUs 24/7 meant something entirely different to each group.

When we combine the results of the card sort from all four groups together there are a total of eight categories that overlap among all of the groups. The only category that all four groups used was ‘Citing a Source’. The category ‘Subject’ is a distant second because of the name variations that each group had created for it. Here is how the categories break down by the number of groups that came up with the same name.

Four Groups

  • Citing a Source

Three Groups

  • Contact Us
  • Databases
  • FAQ’s
  • Libraries – Name Variations =
    • College Libraries
    • Libraries
    • Library Facilities
  • Policies
  • Subject – Name Variations =
    • Search by Subject
    • Subject Focused
    • Research by Subject

Two Groups

  • About

There are some terms such as ‘Inter Library Loan’ and ‘Library Catalog’, that each group placed in a different category from each other. Part of the difficulty with these terms is that they can fall into many different categories based upon a persons perspective. For example, ‘Library Catalog’ appeared as a category heading for one group and for another it appeared under the heading that they had for databases. On the other hand, Inter Library Loan is a service that is provided to people, so they can borrow books from other libraries and it too can fall into multiple categories. Along with being a service it allows for interaction between other library catalogs, such as WorldCat and itself. When you find a book in WorldCat you can select the link ‘Request interlibrary loan’ which will automatically take you to Inter Library Loan and populate the data from the book.