Map your IA

Map content to your new information architecture (IA) to help you to know where content will sit on your new website. It also helps to highlight any content gaps you may have.

Depending on whether you’re reworking your IA or starting from scratch, you’ll need to work out:

  • what content you’re keeping
  • what content needs to be re-written
  • what new content you need

Before you can organise anything, you have to know what you’ve got.

Christina Wodtke, Information Architecture, pp 267, 2003.

Know what content you have

Firstly, look at your current IA and make a clear list of your pages. This will include all top-level pages and each of the pages under them. Start an audit spreadsheet or use a Word doc or diagram to do this.

Go through each page in your structure and identify whether you’ll retain, remove or rewrite the content. Once you've mapped the content across to the new IA, you’ll see where the content gaps are.

A basic set of page headings might include:

  • home page
  • top level pages (parent pages)
  • sub pages (child pages and grandchild pages)
  • pages that sit outside the main IA. For example, pages listed in the footer of your site.

For each page you’ll need to identify:

  • page name
  • page ID (usually found in your content management system
  • type of content
  • URL
  • related pages
  • page actions: retain, rewrite, remove

What content do you want to remove?

If there is content on your current site that is no longer required, make a note of these pages. You will not need to map these pages, but you will need to know how to correctly remove content.

What content do you need to rewrite?

Do you have content that you will need to rewrite? Where you have content that you’re going to retain but change, mark this content as needing a rewrite. This may be as simple as a different heading or page title, or it may be content that needs a complete rewrite.

Identify any content gaps

This is where you've identified content gaps. Make a clear note of what you need, who will do it and by when.

Not all content is hierarchical

Not all of your content may sit in a clear hierarchy. Some other ways of grouping content so that you can map it across to a new IA include:

  • alphabetical
  • date-based such as media releases
  • user-based - who the content is for
  • task-based - for example, how to pay a bill

New IA pages

Next, outline your proposed new IA. Where is your content going to go on the new site? Make a list of:

  • all the top level content pages
  • all the pages under them

Compare and and contrast both IA maps. Work out what needs to happen with each piece of content.

New IA and stakeholders

Before going ahead with any changes, identify the content owners for each page in your IA. This is so you can discuss any changes with them before you begin. Don’t just go ahead and start removing or changing content without consulting content owners. IA is just as much about building relationships with stakeholders, as it is with the content itself.

Some questions to consider:

  • Are you clear on the rationale behind any changes such as page names, titles or changes to the content itself?
  • What user research has been conducted?
  • What methods have been used?

With each piece of content on your new website, you’ll need to be very clear on where it fits. What are you keeping? What are you removing? A clear IA map will help in this process.