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Airsoft Squared Information Architecture

keywords: interviews, domain modelling, sitemaps, user journeys, wireframing

Goals

Airsoft Squared is a social network for Airsoft players across the world, which enables communities to share information on the game, organise events, buy and sell Airsoft-related products, publish reviews and increase their overall online presence. At the moment, the existing web platform does not allow for easy navigation, the pages being loaded with information that the users find overwhelming. Also, banners and several other elements are distracting the users' attention, occasionally causing them to lose their focus from their initial task. In these circumstances, improvements are highly necessary. Solutions for the problems, together with suggestions for designing a better information architecture and the rationale behind them are presented below. 

Approach

Research

A total of five Airsoft enthusiasts were interviewed. The first three interviews were written as open ended, with the last two interviews allowing for closed ended questions. The reason for choosing to first conduct the open-ended interviews is that exploring and understanding what it is that the players are most interested in finding on such websites is mandatory. The interviews also had the purpose of providing a better understanding in the users’ vocabulary and language. 

Domain Modelling

The domain model is meant to reflect structured classification and relationships (Brown, 2010) in the information architecture (IA). In creating it, the information that is important to the users has been analysed and included in the design, together with the ideas that were meaningful, which were gathered from the unstructured, open-ended questions interviews with the domain experts. 

Sitemap & Wireframing

By focusing on the users and their interests, the sitemap was produced as a derivate of the domain model. Some of the methods used in creating it are based on informally talking to the users, comparing the content from competitor websites (content inventory, information grouping), and performing card sorting and tree testing. Having a first, unrefined version of the sitemap, the process of creating the wireframes was started by taking a quick glance at the current organisation and structuring of the website, ensuring that the same mistakes will not be repeated. By focusing on the most important aspects and recommendations of presenting information, the wireframes were designed for exemplifying the following important sections of the redesigned website: the market page, the review page, the Forum, and the check out page. 

Evaluation 

The evaluation took place at different points in the design process. Consent forms were required for the evaluations, together with reporting forms, which helped in organising the results. Firstly, before starting the actual design, three members of www.airsoft-squared.com were given a simple task (“Browse for promotions on replica accessories and try to purchase a product”) for the purpose of informally looking at the information already existing on the website, at the current content, its structure, navigation, labelling and limitations. For example, one limitation discovered was the inability of directly purchasing a product. 

Project Tags

  • domain modelling
  • Sitemap design
  • user journeys
  • wireframing

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