Apologies to all for not fully understanding the assignment initially. I have attempted to map the architecture of the two websites I looked at below. Unfortunately, WordPress.com is thwarting my efforts to upload the PDF file of my work. I suppose it is all part of the learning experience. 🙂
Suffice it to say, I have learned some additional points from mapping the IA of these two sights.
First – I can see how as one gets more deeply involved in website design and creation, the loss of objectivity and an outside user’s perspective becomes a real concern. As I was mapping the architecture for the GWU website, I could see how the designers might think some arrangement and some links might be helpful – and how they lost perspective on a new user just coming to the site. This reinforces the McDaniels’ article about design criticism. Perhaps it is useful to bring in someone who has not been involved in the design process at all, to test drive the website as you move along in the process. Is that possible? How would you do it, and how often? Ideally, it seems like you would get a new person to look at the website at each iteration. If you brought back someone who had previously test-driven the website, you run the risk of that person having learned some of the navigation and losing some objectivity.
Second, it takes a lot of paper to map a website! I envision needing a very large whiteboard and a lot of stickies to keep track of all the architecture. It also leads to some questions. How far down do you go into the IA? How detailed do you get? For example, do you explain WHY kept certain things on the left-hand side, and why you open in new tabs? This would make sense, since I am certain that we would forget the reasons for decisions, and it would be helpful to have a reminder. That also means more things to track during the project. Project management and organizational skills are a premium!