According to Perficient.com, 68.1% of all website visits globally were done through mobile devices as of 2020. The pandemic certainly inflated this figure. This is a firm reminder for companies and organizations everywhere to expand their reach via responsive mobile websites and applications (and a harsher reminder for me to get rolling on making this website mobile-responsive).
The effectiveness of most organizational systems depends on the efficiency of their Information Architecture (IA). That being said, mobile applications are arguably the most dependent on good IA because of the small and fast nature of the smartphone screen. According to uxbooth.com, IA is “about helping people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for.” With this in mind, if users can’t find what they’re looking for on a mobile app or understand the navigation system, then they will probably be more likely to give up than if they were on a desktop site or at a library.
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that for an exercise I made a sitemap for a current municipality website (I chose the North Country Chamber of Commerce) as well as a proposed sitemap of the website’s IA if it were to be restructured. Here, in part 2 of the exercise I took that proposal a step further and created a sitemap for a hypothetical mobile companion app for the NCCOC. But there is important context that differentiates this app from my initial proposal.
MyGoNorth—the Existing Companion Website
To elaborate, there already exists a companion website of the NCCOC, called MyGoNorth. This website is essentially the NCCOC’s main marketing platform, which is catered to tourists who are not from the area as well as those, local or not, who are not chamber members or businesses. It is designed to reach a much wider audience through social media campaigns and ad books.
Companion App Details
In order to not overload it or make it slow and clunky, the companion app for the NCCOC ideally should have reduced content and serve a narrowed, specific audience. What is that audience, to be exact? Well, if MyGoNorth serves as the main hub for visitors and event participators, then this app (and arguably the website itself) should be for businesses, chamber members, event organizers, job seekers, and development contractors who wish to access chamber information as well as access and submit forms. Visitors and new residents would also use it if they wish to get more involved in the community.
This app should also save people the headache of having to navigate the desktop version of the site on their mobile screen (yes, this is currently the case for the site on mobile browsers).
The app would have a similar navigation system and similar content access as that of the proposed website, but there are a few important differences:
- The main navigation menu and all the content in the top header (except for the logo which links to the home page) can be found by tapping the sidebar—those highly recognizable three lines used almost universally on mobile apps.
- I removed the ‘What to Do’ category entirely for the app because all that information is already available on MyGoNorth (and displayed better on there for that matter), and the space is needed. Instead, there will be external links to MyGoNorth on appropriate areas of the site, including the home page and footer, if the app user is curious about the ‘What to Do.’ Ideally, there should be a companion app for MyGoNorth as well and the external links would direct them to that app, but I’ll save that for another time.
- All forms are expected to be mobile-responsive and drafts/cookies will be saved and transferred among the mobile and desktop spaces so long as the user is logged in.
Overall, the NCCOC companion app is essentially the proposed website but with narrowed-down content and available in the user’s pocket. And it should definitely be more responsive and efficient than the current site. It’s justified not to carry over all pages and content to the app, especially if one is catering to a more specific audience and is trying to boost efficiency and responsiveness.
With Information Architecture (and UX Design in general), the number one goal is to improve the audience’s entire experience with an application. This means that every single organizational decision matters because chances are that it will be part of at least a handful of users’ experiences.