You need to decide how you will carve up the content needed for your site into separate chunks, which are going to then sorted into sections and pages. The best way I know how to do this is a card sort.
You have a design problem you are trying to solve, you have your target user. Now you need to see what all your user would need to solve the problem. The chunks of content they would need can actually be organized into pages, then into sections, then finally into an actual information architecture. After this thinking has been done, you have all you need to move on into designing the sitemap and wireframes.
Here is a video on the method I was taught to do a card sort in person, using post its or index cards:
We are working remotely, so we will have to use an online service in order t be able to look at each other’s work.
In web design, you want each page to be a bucket for information about the selected topic ONLY. Use links to guide the user to other related material. You want your copy to be clear and concise: no one likes to dig through loads of badly organized copy for what they seek.
Here is a sample digital card sort I did in Google Docs, as a drawing. If you want to make a digital one, feel free to use it to make your own, or use this blank one.
Look at the site you want to build and think of your targeted user:
- What information does she need first? Second? Third? And so on. This helps you determine what the pages should be and where they should end up in the overall structure of the site.
- Write out the name of each page in a blank label in the diagram.
- Place the labels in your document in the order you think they need to go. Save this document, as this may very well become your sitemap.
- Make a copy of your document, rename it clearly, mix the cards up and turn to a fellow student. Explain your site’s purpose, the target audience, and any other variables at play.
- Submit the second document to your fellow student and let him/her come up with a potential navigational scheme.
- Once you get a response from your classmate, share a link to or a copy of your original card sort.
- Talk out any differences with him/her, and adjust your final card sort to reflect the thinking.