For this assignment I decided to look at the Port Moody Public Library website, one I often use but have never fully explored before. While looking through this site’s information hierarchy I kept in mind some of the points we learned in Lesson 7 as to what makes good website architecture:
- Minimum click distance helps prevent confusion and keep the user’s interest.
- Navigation bars, cross content linking, and naming conventions are important to how each page is linked internally.
- Titles of each page are distinguishable.
- The site is useful for its users.
The Port Moody Library website has a flat hierarchy. The first level has eight distinct links and the levels are only three deep. As I was working through the hierarchy of this website I began to wish I had picked one not so complicated to describe. However, as I explored my way around the site I realized even with all this information, it was very easy to navigate.
The pages of this website are consistent in style, layout, and colour scheme. The Search button is prominently displayed at the top of the page, with the eight main links just below listed from left to right starting with the Home tab. The tabs for these links, as well as the Search button remain no matter what page you are on within the site. This makes it easy to navigate and search for information in the catalogue or website no matter where you are. With these first level links, you can click on the link itself or use its drop down menu to navigate to a more specific page right away, some on the third level. As soon as you get to a new page, the tab it belongs to remains highlighted and the title of the page is easy to see, labeled in red. All the links associated with the first level link appear in a yellow column at the left, which allows for easy navigation within the main link. Some of the links in the drop down menus have third level links to choose from. I like this feature as it makes it easy to see the topics without having to click through a number of pages to get to the one you want. There are some third level links that are not listed on the drop-down menus but these tend to be cross content links or links to external resources, like The Canadian Children’s Book Centre on the Kids page.
There are only two tabs that deviate from this layout. To navigate the My Library link, users must enter their password to gain access. Once you have access, the pages are visually different from the rest of the site. I think this acts as a subtle clue that you are no longer on the public site, but accessing your own information. I don’t know if this is intended by design or not. From the Explore page, instead of its second level links down the left side, they appear across the top directly under the Explore tab. I am not sure why they changed the format for this tab unless it is because this page is associated with the My Library link (you can log in from this page) or is more interactive, allowing the user to search for material instead of simply giving information like the other pages on the site.
Cross-links are one thing I did not show in my visual representation of the website’s hierarchy. From what I can see they seem to occur on the Home page and within the Audiences tab. Home page links are likely the most common ones people use on the site: For Kids, Event calendar, Ask a librarian and Tell us what you think. Within the Audiences link, links to various resources on the website are present for the different age groups of users. This makes the architecture of the site more complex, but it makes navigation easier. As a parent looking for resources for my child I just have to look under the Preschooler, Kids or Teen link and I will be taken directly to an inclusive list of resources without having to check other first level links.
I like how the information on the Port Moody Public Library website is sorted. The flat hierarchy allows users to get to the bottom level in one or two clicks of the mouse. The structure is very user friendly and has given me some ideas about how I would like to set up my own library website.
LIBE 465 (2014). Story telling as website building. Lesson 7. Page 2.
W3C (July 15, 2011). Information Architecture – planning out a web site. Retrieved from http://www.w3.org/wiki/Information_Architecture_-_planning_out_a_web_site
Whitenton, K (November 10, 2013). Flat vs. deep website hierarchies. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from http://www.nngroup.com/articles/flat-vs-deep-hierarchy/