If you’re having trouble converting leads on your website, your first move might be to look at ways to improve your SEO strategy or marketing tactics. But you may not have considered that poor information architecture could be the real culprit behind your low conversions. In this article, I’ll explain the basics of information architecture and how it can impact your conversion rates. Then, I’ll walk you through some common approaches to improving your information architecture and outline the way we approach information architecture updates at Apexon. First, though, let’s take a moment to define what information architecture is. What Is Information Architecture? Information architecture is the basic way that your website organizes every piece of information. It works a bit like a library. In a library, people can find things on their own by looking at labels, taxonomies, or genres. Websites categorize information in a similar way. They help users find information through menu names, dropdown items, headers and footers, and call-to-action buttons. Your users could type a query in the search bar – sort of like asking a librarian – but they shouldn’t have to. Your website structure should clearly display the information they need. Poor Information Architecture Might Be Hurting Your Conversions If you’re noticing lower conversion rates than you’d like on your website, your current information architecture could be getting in your users’ way. Keep an eye out for some of these red flags:
Many of these problems can be traced to common mistakes in information architecture design. For example, you might have moved key information to an unfamiliar place. Most users are trained to look for a “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page; moving it to the top can cause confusion (even when the intent is to make the information easier to find). Or maybe you’re relying too much on popups. Because popups often aren’t tied to a fixed website location, they can make it difficult for users to navigate to critical information (or converting!) after they close the popup. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when you design your information architecture for usability, you could see a roughly 80 percent bump in conversion rates, traffic numbers, user performance, and target feature usage. Although that study was conducted in 2008, the principles still hold: you’ll see bottom-line benefits when you invest resources in understanding your users’ website habits and use that knowledge to inform your website adjustments. Improve Conversion Rates by Putting Users First To improve conversion rates, start by making user research the foundation of your information architecture. Your business goals can sometimes be different from what users want from your website. User research can ensure that your business approach aligns with what website users want and need, to the extent that that’s possible. A key part of user research is talking to your users to learn what they want. For example, you might expect 18 year olds to use your website differently than 70 year olds. But it’s important not to make assumptions about your users’ needs – there are tech-savvy seniors and teenage tech novices! And the goods or services you offer on your website will affect how users interact with it. To understand your users better, conduct in-depth user research. This might include asking your users about their habits, watching them interact with your site, showing them wireframes and prototypes, and more. One company with highly user-oriented information architecture is Airbnb (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: screenshot of Airbnb’s search homepage Airbnb’s clear and streamlined user flow provides the essential starting points to set the user up for success. The site’s excellent information architecture is a result of Airbnb’s extensive user research. The website prominently displays the four most common filter buckets (“Type of place,” “Price,” “Instant Book,” and “Rooms and beds”), speeding up the user’s ability to narrow down their search (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: screenshot of Airbnb’s four most common filter buckets
Then, under the “More filters” bucket, Airbnb displays small chunks with checkboxes for other filters (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: screenshot of Airbnb’s “Amenities” filter category
Airbnb’s user-oriented information architecture means users can skim and find the essentials faster. Crucially, the site didn’t always look like this. Airbnb has engaged in detailed user research over the years to provide a website experience that lets users find and book rentals as quickly and easily as possible.
The result: Airbnb’s revenue has grown 40 percent each year since 2018. When you maximize usability via strong information architecture, your users will be more likely to engage with your website and, ultimately, convert.
Let Apexon Help You Boost Website Conversions
Whether you’ve invested thousands in your current site structure or built it piecemeal over the years, we can help you identify what’s working and what’s not and – if necessary – guide you through the process of improving your information architecture so your site drives more conversions.
Set up a conversation today to learn more.