Monday, November 5, 2007
Full-day Seminar, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Gerry McGovern

How to Design a Task-Based Information Architecture: Essential Tips for Creating Customer-Centric Web Sites

Gerry McGovern, author of the best-selling book, Content is Critical

Is your web site chaos? Does it have too many choices? Do people have trouble finding things? Is your architecture and content organization-centric, rather than customer-centric?

Once people realize how ‘easy’ it is to put a document on a company web site or intranet, they want to do it a lot. Then you find that you have hundreds or thousands of pages, completely without organization or structure. What can you do?

To help managers, designers and information architects solve these types of problems, we went to Gerry McGovern, a world-renowned expert in content management and author of the top-selling books, Content Critical and The Web Style Guide. Gerry has spent the last ten years consulting exclusively on issues pertaining to information architecture and content management systems to some of the world’s leading organizations. His fourth book, Killer Web Content, will be published in November 2006.

Information architecture problems aren’t just happening to you. They are happening at companies everywhere. For example:

  • The intranet of a large east coast medical school has thousands of pages of information intended for the hundreds of doctors, nurses, and technicians who work at the hospital. The system is expanding at a rate of 5,000 pages per month. Unfortunately, the hospital employees find that the system grows less and less useful everyday, as it becomes harder to find things.
  • A design team for a major sports equipment manufacturer is constantly under pressure from upper management to make the site “innovative and cutting edge”. All of this pressure is focusing the team on fancy animation and emotive marketing phrases and away from providing the content in a logical and organized fashion.
  • At one of the nation’s largest providers of electricity and natural gas, there are more than 400 people who regularly publish new information on the corporate intranet and internet sites. The web support team is frustrated because these publishers refuse to add the proper metadata to their documents.

With hard work, solid processes, and good organizational buy-in, these problems are solvable and can dramatically increase the productivity and profitability of your organization. How do you find out what it takes?

Gerry believes that simplicity is the key to designing a quality web site. People aren’t at your site to ‘enjoy’ themselves. They’re there to get some work done—to complete common tasks. Customers are most happy when they get their content quickly.

The nature of all organizations—particularly large organizations—is to be organization-centric. The resulting information architecture and content drives customers crazy and turns them away in droves. Gerry’s Customer Carewords approach will help you create a genuinely customer-centric web site.

In his extensive work, Gerry has found that when you think of your web site as a publication, instead of a technical medium, it makes it easier to prioritize your design effort. Since the principle thing most people do on your site is read, designing for easy reading becomes the highest priority.

At this seminar, you will:

  • Get a solid grounding in information architecture, delivered in a non-technical manner. You will learn why a standards-based approach is the best way to design an information architecture. You will learn why it's easier and cheaper to manage, and why, more importantly, it's what the person who visits your website wants.
  • Learn how to create a compelling business case for your website that will win the respect and support of senior management. By taking a task-based approach and by applying a self-service return of investment model you can prove that your web site is delivering maximum value both to your customers and to your organization.
  • Learn how to practically design and implement customer-centric metadata and classification. This will result in your website having content that is organized from the perspective of your customers and will thus be much easier to find.
  • You will learn why navigation needs to be designed like a traffic light system, not like a neon light display. You will learn about  why the primary purpose of navigation is to help your customers complete common tasks. You will learn why navigation should be forward looking.
  • You will learn about best practice in website layout and design. You will learn the most effective column structure for a page, what should be in your masthead and footer, the right font sizes and types to use, the key principles of homepage design, and the optimum line length for content.

Who Should Attend

This seminar is perfect for people who are responsibile for large web sites, including producers, communications managers, marketing managers, and IT managers. If, after going through several iterations on your site’s organization, you currently think you need to move your site to the next of success, then this session is for you.

In addition to hearing about these practical techniques from Gerry, you will receive a detailed seminar notes booklet, containing over 100 slides filled with research, stats, quotes, and graphic examples for everything Gerry will talk about.

If you want to learn how to get a chaotic or underperforming web site or intranet under control, this seminar is the perfect choice.

UI12 Seminar Recommendations: If you're interested in Gerry's full-day seminar, you may also want to attend Scott Berkun's seminar on The Myths of Innovation or Kim Goodwin's seminar on The Essentials of Interaction Design.