Thursday, June 5, 2008

Information Architecture = A Family Tree in Cascade

Tina Coleman and I headed over to the Discovery Office Building in New Town yesterday. Renell Franklin invited us to a meeting of the Development Communications team and the agenda was the IA for the new Giving section of the W&M website. Renell, John Wallace, and David Morrill had done their homework and the IA for Giving is in great shape.

We've blogged about Information Architecture before - see Andrew Bauserman's post from last September. At a minimum, think "outline your 15 - 20 page research paper before you begin writing."

You might be interested to know that when the IA hits Cascade, it turns into a family tree. Let's use the Giving IA as an example. When we create the Giving section (one of the eight main links on the global navigation bar) within Cascade, the IA will be the blueprint for a set of folders with a familial relationship. The Giving IA will dictate the following 6 parent folders:
  1. Why Support W&M?
  2. Impact of Your Gift
  3. Ways to Give
  4. Designate Your Gift
  5. Recognition and Thanks
  6. Contact Us
When six web pages are created in each of these six parents folders, the six left menu options that visitors to the W&M website will see when they click on Giving will be dynamically generated by Cascade. Cool.

Parents have children, right? So let's use parent 2. as the example. In Cascade, adding four children folders (with web pages inside them) will dynamically generate the four menu options that visitors will see if they click on "Impact of Your Gift."
2. Impact of Your Gift (parent)

2.1. Impact on Students (child)

2.2. Impact on Faculty (child)

2.3. Impact on Facilities (child)

2.4. Impact on Programs (child)

You can guess what's next - yes, grandchildren are possible. For example, any folders with web page content placed in 2.1. above are grandchildren of the parent folder, "Impact of Your Gift."

Does this all seem a little fuzzy? No worries. The W&M web team will help guide you through the steps of outlining your site and translating it into an IA. Most likely, we'll be the ones setting up the family you'll need in Cascade.

posted by Susan Evans


Anonymous said...

This architecture sounds like a rooted tree. Can the architecture handle a child having two parents? For instance: can "designating your gift to earn recognition" be in both "Designate" and Recognition? Would it have both sibling menus?

re.web said...

Yep. It's a rooted tree - content within Cascade lives in one place but can be shared. This is one of the exciting topics you'll hear more about in future Cascade training. Doesn't get any better than that!