IA blueprinting

by , under information architecture

I recently whipped together some blueprinting for

Here is my short critique, followed by the blueprints (download PDF here):

The primary problem with is different sections of the site living at different sub domains with different global navigation systems. This makes it difficult for users to understand where he or she is at a given time on the site.

Sub domains

For instance, the entire store, or “buy,” section is on a different sub domain ( with a different global navigation. The only way to get back to the main site is by clicking on a “visit” label in the top global navigation. This is problematic because it has the user going back and forth between two completely different websites.

Pages missing from global navigation

Another problem with this information architecture is top-level pages which are not accessible from the global navigation. For example, the “Create” and “Contribute” pages are not in the global navigation. However, both pages are accessible from local navigation and content items.

This type of design makes for a confusing visit to the site. How does one access these types of pages if they are not placed within the hierarchy? Just by guessing and hoping to end up in the right place? For now, that’s how it has to be done. The blueprints clearly show this problem.

Labels in navigation appear to be pages, but are not

Yes, labels such as “Products,” “Learning,” and “Support” all appear to be top-level pages, but in fact these are just labels in the navigation which offer drop-downs when the user hovers over them. These labels can- not not be clicked and offer no destitation.


  • Place all of the top-level pages in the global navigation
  • Make sure every page, whether it’s a sub domain or not, has the same global navigation (including thefooter and the top global navigation).
  • Make sure pages are in hierarchical order. Users should not access a section through one of its lowerpages when they are trying to get to that section’s main, top page in the hierarchy.
  • All labels in the global navigation should be links to pages. Otherwise, get rid of them.

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