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Six months ago at our company if you had asked anyone a question about our main navigation, they would have replied, “The navigation doesn’t matter. Users only search.” Navigation was such a low priority we didn’t even keep good statistics on how it led to purchases or if buyers used it. As a result of how people felt about it, our navigation was static for 3 years, which might as well be a decade online, especially for a brand known for trends & quirky style. No one felt ownership of the navigation aside from the taxonomy team who lacked the engineering resources or product manager to take on any changes to it. Regardless of all that, our navigation was generally well regarded by outside research firms and was held up as a best practice example by many in our industry. But we knew it wasn’t what it could be...
That was all until the SEO team identified the navigation as a major contributor to our SEO bad practice. At this point an information architect and a taxonomist were asked to eliminate 50% of the links on the navigation and given carte blanche on how to do that.
We are that information architect and that taxonomist and this talk is our story of not only how we took on that project but also how we managed to make the navigation matter in the process.
Along the way we assembled stakeholders who we thought had useful information & a “stake” in the navigation and used qualitative and quantitative data to make them realize that the navigation is actually one of the most powerful tools they have when communicating our brand to our users.
Some topics and lessons we want to cover include:
How to design for users while optimizing for machines.
How to provide access to a broad and unique assortment without an overwhelming navigation system
How to decide if less is more.
How to use qualitative and quantitative data to make people care about your project.
How to serve a two sided marketplace without alienating suppliers with our brand choices.
How to introduce our brand to first time users while providing access and structure to our dedicated customers.
How to balance displaying a broad assortment while still being mobile first.
How to make sure your navigation conveys your brand across many cultures and languages
How to balance what executives think the brand is versus what people actually buy on the site.
This talk was given at Information Architecture Summit in Chicago on March 24, 2018.