project 3: site inventory and analysis

site inventory and analysis

creating a site inventory and analysis

Creating an accurate site inventory is perhaps the most important thing when designing and re-designing Web sites. The inventory helps us determine:

  • how the site is structured
  • what files are inside which folders
  • what material is on the page
  • how the material is organized
  • who is the intended audience
  • the problems with the structure

The material gleaned from the site inventory will then inform our decisions on how and, more importantly, why the site needs to be re-organized.

This section of the project corresponds to Chapters 3 and 4 of Web Re-Design. Our assignment will incorporate many of the tools Goto and Colter advocate, and I encourage you to refer to the text often when considering what you should be doing at this stage. Many of the resources described in the book are available on the book’s web site, so please use them.

Four of the organizational tools the book advocates that we will be completing are: 1) a Communication Brief; 2) an Audit Methodology; 3) a Content Delivery Plan; and 4) a Site Map. It is important to remember that we cannot keep inventories in our head. Using the above tools (and others described in the book) will help you keep information organized. We have an excellent program in the lab called Microsoft Visio, which can be used for making site maps. It’s easy to learn, and I recommend you use it when creating your maps.

It will also be important for you to create a file structure that represents the structure of the web site. For example, if you have 5 main sections off the home page (index.html), you should have 5 folders with names that correspond to the 5 sections. All files in a particular section will then go into its related folder. Having an organized file structure allows designers and users to easily find the files in the future. Please also have a separate folder for images.

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creating the inventory and analysis

Your inventory and analysis is where you discuss the structure of the site, its merits, its problems, and what you intend to do to fix the problems. It is also were you analyze the usability problems based on some field research you do, testing a user’s ability to find certain pages and where they begin to have problems. (See page 15 in Neilson for a list of "fundamental errors" in Web design.) You may also want to think about the page size, how much it scrolls, whether or not there are different kinds of material on the same page, etc. One way to help determine usability is to look at other related sites, which in this case would be other museum sites — both university-affiliated and non-university-affiliated.

The choices you have for doing the analysis are boundless, and because of that your group must have a clear agenda and time line. You’ll need to work outside of class, as well as use the time in class productively.

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Requirements for this phase of the project

I suggest they be completed in the order they are listed:

  1. An agenda and time line with due dates for when each of the below tasks will be completed and by whom.
  2. A Communication Brief (.pdf) with all sections described on pages 62-64 in Goto except "Competitive Positioning." This will help outline your group’s individual goals for the project.
  3. A site map that goes two layers deep off the Writing Arts Department home page for all the links (including the sublinks that appear when hovering over the main navigation links). Understand "two layers deep" by the following: From the home page, each time you click you get a layer. In other words, the home page is not level one. You do not need to detail every single link that appears on the 2nd layer; just note what is one that page, and whether or not the links are going to an external site. This process will help show you the organization (or lack thereof) of the current site.
  4. An Audit Methodology for 7 of the 10 main navigation links (excluding the ones excluded in the site map). I suggest you use Excel. This is excellent for identifying and filtering out irrelevant and redundant content. I suggest using Flow Chart.
  5. A site map that shows the new, proposed structure, 2 layers deep. Here is where you are going to be designing the new navigation. Take a look at what Goto writes about the benefits of "chunking." I suggest using Flow Chart.
  6. A Content Delivery Plan for 3 of the sections in your proposed structure. This will help you determine the most relevant text for each page, the names for your files, and the relationship of the content between files in the same section.

Each of the above should be published online to your group project page in both .html, Microsoft Word (.rtf) formats, or other relevant format (this means that you will need to create a group home page). It is very important that each group member understands and follows through with their role within the group. Establishing clear roles and tasks is even more important than determining the goals of the site. Ensure that everyone has a voice and that everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

I will be asking see your schedule of tasks by 4:00pm 5/27/08. You can make updates to the schedule as needed.

So, get started picking apart the site!

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Additional Online Readings

from Alertbox

from Usability Testing and Research by Carol M. Barnum

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