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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville

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Defining Goals

In early meetings, it’s always easy to jump the gun and dive right into juicy discussions about possible information architectures. Sometimes you will need to ask everyone to step back and spend some time exploring bigger picture issues like mission and vision first.

It’s good to begin by brainstorming on mission and vision. To get these sessions going, you might ask some of the following questions:

  • What is the mission of the organization?

  • How does the web site support that organizational mission?

  • Does the new medium of the Web force you to reconsider the organization’s mission?

  • What are the short-term goals with respect to the web site?

  • What are the long-term goals?

  • How do you envision the web site one to two years from now?

Once you’ve had a good opportunity to brainstorm, you can lead your colleagues through the exercise of writing a web site mission statement, which might look something like this:

The mission of our web site is to create new customer relationships and strengthen existing customer loyalty. We see our web site not only as a promotional tool, but as a customer service tool.

Of course, it’s easy to make fun of these touchy-feely mission statements, and they may soon be forgotten. However, the exercise of writing a mission statement can help a group to focus on the goals behind the site.

Towards that end, it’s often useful to probe for goals not currently included in the mission statement. If the mission statement emphasizes sales and marketing, ask about customer ...

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