Information Architecture

June 1, 2020

Information Architecture

Pro Tips

The Public Doesn’t Care Which Department Handles Their Issue – They just want their issue handled. So It’s really important that while a certain department may own a piece of information that it not only be framed by which department does something. For example, if I want to know where my polling place is, while that might be handled by the clerk’s office there should still be a navigational path under “for residents” or even a “guide to voting.”

There Should Always Be At Least Two User Paths To The Same Information – For any given task the public is as likely to try to find it by who handles it (if they know that) as they are to look it up by what they are trying to do, or even by who they are.  For example, if I need to license my dog I might look up departments> animal control or I might look up residents> licensing pets.

Create Cross Departmental Guides For Common Interests – It’s not uncommon that a topic might cross many departments.  For example, all of the services related to being a veteran / active military cross everything from property tax deferment to mental health services, housing services and even overseas voting.  So, creating a guide page for that group that links out to these various places on the site is a nice jumping off point.

Why Information Architecture Is Important For Municipalities?

Getting Out Of The Department First Mindset – Considering alternate routes for framing information helps in getting out of the department first mindset and that helps get your information to your citizens.

Generates Targeted Online Resources For Underserved Populations – Webpages like interest guides help to curate information / links for populations that are often underserved and need extra guidance without creating duplicate content.

Clear Information Flow Creates Transparency – Having to dig for information is a way to unintentionally create a feeling of information withholding when really the issue is a matter of organization.  In this way a clear information architecture creates an impression of transparency.