Structure Matters: Information Architecture for SEO and UX

World IA Day 2016

Last month, I had the pleasure of addressing the Milwaukee digital community at our local World Information Architecture Day (WIAD) 2016, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Developers, entrepreneurs, user experience (UX) experts and marketers from numerous industries came together to discuss, learn and exchange ideas about information architecture.

While individual conferences happened across the world, Milwaukee’s event centered on the idea that we are all information architects. Marketers and scholars presented on varied topics, including content strategy and user experience. 

In my session, I explored the effects of the quickly changing digital landscape on user experience and website engagement. Search engine updates, mobile devices, voice search and an explosion of content on the internet present new challenges to content creators and businesses who are trying to get their message heard over the noise of the internet.

The digital world is moving so quickly that organizations are struggling to stay on top of the newest technologies and latest strategies. While we’ve been busy trying to master the rules of SEO and drive user engagement, the entire game has changed. Even the definition of a “user” is defined very differently today than it was five years ago – or, heck, even one year ago! 

For your digital marketing initiatives to be successful, it is critical that you understand your users. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Understand what they want to accomplish. The content you create, the way you organize your website and all of the elements of your digital marketing strategy should help your user achieve their goals. What information in your message is most valuable to them? Make it easy for them to find it.
  2. Understand how they are accessing your information. Are they on a mobile device? Are they using voice search while driving? Are they multi-tasking at a workstation? Cater to their limitations and meet them where they are.
  3. Understand the world around your message. To stand out, you have to be the best source of information – and there is a lot of noise out there. Find out what your competitors are doing, and look at other sources like Wikipedia, Google’s knowledge graph, industry publications and even forums. Then, solve your users’ problems better than anyone else by creating unique content.

The best way to stay in touch with your users is through empathy. Because there is so much information to access in today’s digital world, it is important for your message to be empathetic to your user’s situation. This will prevent users from seeking out a different message that connects with them more effectively.

To learn more about the impact of empathy on your digital marketing strategy, check out my presentation from WIAD 2016 here.

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