August 21st, 2008
We’ve received some interesting comments about last week’s article on site maps as design cop-outs. Christian & Michael both asked: Why is it a cop-out to provide a site map anyway? Christian explained that they are easy to create and maintain, so what’s the big deal?
It’s a good question. While creating a site map is easy, there’s a lot to creating a great site map.
First, you have to research which links you’re going to include, as a site of any decent size will have too many to list. Then, you have to figure out how to describe each included link (as to also give scent for the ones that didn’t make the cut). Then, you have to determine how to organize and display the links. And finally, you have to keep it all up-to-date for the entire life of the site.
None of this is easy for most folks. It takes skill and time to do a good job. Since every team we’ve encountered is resource constrained, diverting those resources to creating and maintaining something users shouldn’t need in the first place is a hard sell. Therefore, site maps are often neglected.
The same is true of the article topic in this week’s issue of UIEtips, Design cop-out #2: Breadcrumbs. Like site maps, breadcrumbs are hard to do well. And they are also a treatment of the symptom, with the real problem that the user is on the wrong page to begin with. Work to ensure the only place users end up is on the right page, and you’ll no longer need to provide breadcrumbs to rescue them.
Read the article – Design Cop-out #2: Breadcrumbs
Information architecture — organizing the site’s content to make things easy to find — is just one of the full-day, in-depth seminar topics we’ll be covering at the User Interface 13 Conference, October 13-16, in Cambridge, MA. If you want to learn state-of-the-art techniques from the world’s most renowned experts in design and usability, this is the place you need to be.
What are your thoughts about breadcrumbs, site maps, and other design cop outs? How have you tackled the key challenges in your site’s information architecture? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Leave us a comment below.