Developing an Information Architecture: A Case Study of 'User Requirements Gathering' for the 'Connections' Website

Prof. Myung Hae Park,
Dr Leonardo Legorreta
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Initiation, engagement, and opportunity to enhance active student engagement in both academic and community are the main goals of "Connections", a central contact point website at California State University, Sacramento. The "Connections" website seeks to connect students and faculty members to opportunities in the community. It is well known that content, information architecture, and navigation are important considerations in the design of a website. Designing coherent information architecture without existing content is not a small task. The information architect requires an understanding of the business and communication objectives of the website along with the profile of the target audiences.

This case study illustrates how to use the information architecture process to gather user requirements, information about what the users need from the website. It illustrates how information architecture is useful to both Design and Business. Both Business and Design seek to understand the user. In Business, for example, viewing a website as a system, development depends on understanding the so-called "problem domain." The information architecture captures the "problem domain"; it understands the user. The first goal of the information architecture is to bring the most interesting and thematic content to a higher level, encouraging exploration and discovery. The second goal is to develop the information hierarchy an easy, pleasurable, and intuitive experience for even the most casual of users.

For "Connections" we studied the users' needs and developed three user portraits to guide the thematic content, dividing the entire site into three unified main menus that provide the three different types of users with their own sense of belonging. We conducted surveys to learn what the users thought about their past experiences, prior to "Connections", when trying to find opportunities to engage with the community. The surveys also served to collect their ideas and suggestions on how we could make it easier for them to find out about such opportunities. The research, planning design, and user tests lead to many discoveries that will become a benchmark for other universities developing websites that require unifying distinct user-type experiences.

Keywords: Information Architecture, Usability, User Experience, Problem Domain, Communication
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Myung Hae Park

Assistant Professor, Department of Design, California State University, Sacramento

Myung Hae Park is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. Her focus on research and design practice is in the area of human interaction, interfaces and usability in technology with an emphasis on web interface design addressing the complex and subtle relationships between technology and communication.

Dr Leonardo Legorreta

Assistant Professor, Management Information Systems Department, California State University, Sacramento

Leonardo is an Assistant Professor in the Management Information Systems Department at CSU, Sacramento. His research interests lie in the impact of technology on business and society and in the application of technology for competitive advantage. He teaches students business software development and consults clients in the areas of marketing and strategy. Leonardo graduated with a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Oregon and worked as a research mathematician before switching to business. He worked as a corporate attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah, before joining the business faculty at the University of Utah where he worked on his Post Doc in MIS. He has been at CSU, Sacramento since Fall 2002.

Ref: T06P0267