A suggestion for improving the OU website Information Architecture

April 19th, 2007

I’ve been working with David Winter on some usable web design guidelines for colour, typography and grid layout. We’ve just about cracked the colours and will be determining some usable and accessible combinations (themes if you like) that can be grabbed and applied to your designs with ease. We’ve also recently been tackling typography and a OU shield-based web grid. All rather exciting stuff huh?

On putting some of our existing material onto the new grid I started thinking about the elegance and simplicity of a intuitive information architecture which could be applied to the existing OU site to enable existing, prospective and former students, staff and employers easily navigate the wealth of material on the OU domain.

The easiest way to represent this is by some visual pictures, a thumbnail of which you’ll see below. You can see the full-size version too.


As you will see, this model makes sure that we can get to things by following a specific ‘scent‘ from the OU homepage. Likewise we can trace our path back to homepage using a simplistic breadcrumb navigation system. Rather simple all told – but simplicity is what we’re aiming for.

I might not have gotten the labels and pots right, but the concept seems to work. There are interesting discussions to have around this so do feel free to plonk your comments in the box below.

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