If you want to design an architecture that supports the needs of the company and the needs of the users, you’ve got to get everyone thinking about the primary audiences for the web site right at the beginning. With information architecture, one size does not fit all, so your approach should be determined by the needs and characteristics of the major audiences.
You can start gathering this information during early meetings by getting everyone to brainstorm on the topic. You might ask some of the following questions:
Who are the most important audiences for the web site?
Are there other audiences we’re not thinking about? How about the media, investors, competitors, and current and potential employees?
Is there a difference between the most important audiences (e.g., those who influence funding) and the audiences who will use the web site most frequently? What are the implications?
How do these audiences currently interact with your company? By phone, mail, email, fax, or in person?
What will these audiences want to do when they visit the web site? Why will they come and what will make them return?
Once you’ve generated an initial list of possible audiences, ask the group to rank the relative importance of these audiences, and list their most important needs, as we’ve done in the following example:
Rank audience in order of importance (#1 is most important)
List the three most important information needs of this audience with respect ...