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Site Architecture and Design Best Practices

The information architecture and visual design of your website are vital to its success.

Information architecture refers to the way your site is organized and labeled. That is, where you put things and what you call them. Visual design is, of course, how your website looks.

On a large website like IUP’s, maintaining consistency in both information architecture and visual design is vital to our success. For instance, prospective students visiting your department’s website need to be able to find their way from your site to the admissions site and back. When those students visit your site, they are going to expect that it will be organized more or less like the other department sites they have visited. If it isn't, they are likely to be frustrated—and even leave.

The best practices in this section explain how to keep your site consistent with the rest of the IUP website and how to make your unique content work more effectively.

Put Every Page on a Menu
Whenever you create a new page, put it on a menu.
Limit Menus to about Ten Items
Menus longer than ten items become hard for users to scan and use.
Make Your Naming Conventions Consistent with the Rest of the Site
Consistent use of labels helps users better navigate the site.
Make Your Navigation Conventions Consistent with the Rest of the Site
Make sure to use each page’s navigation features correctly.
Avoid Workarounds for Content Organization
The Web Team can move content blocks for you.
Consult the Web Team about Creating New Sections of Your Website
The Web Team can help you stay consistent with the rest of the site.
Use Your Highlights Collection to Feature Otherwise Hidden Content
Your home page highlights collection can jump users deep down into your website.
Use Page Elements to Highlight Content
Don’t just make it bigger. Use a page element.
Choose What You Need Your Homepage to Do
No home page can be all things to all visitors.
Keep Important Content above the Fold
Make sure important content is visible without scrolling.
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