Help a reader

I just saw this mail, and having spent way too much time thinking about reccipes and since my […]

I just saw this mail, and having spent way too much time thinking about reccipes and since my husband is now caffeinated and barked at me to get going on our sunday advanture to Marin, I’m going to leave it with you dear readers for now:

“Hi Christina, I have an IA question I thought you, or you visitors might be able to help me with.

The background.

Last year I joined a small but very successful 3D software company and inherited responsibility for the website.

The site was a mess, the solution for everything was build another page and link it to as many related pages as possible. Side menus for product pages not only replicated the tab links on the top bar but also much of the content – albeit in completely different places.

To try and sort out the mess and make life easier (for myself more than anyone) I have centralized much of the content shared across different product pages and located them under the main tabs across the top of the site. For example there is now only one registration section accessible from the main tabs, in the past there were separate unrelated galleries for each product.

The question.

I’ve been told our website’s is mainly for e-commerce sales, however based on the background below I’m unsure in a redesign if I should locate all menu options for a product such as register, download, buy etc

· Only on a product page
· Only on the top tab navigation bar
· Or try and create a combination by having them in both places – although I suspect this is why things got out of hand last time (we don’t have a content management system).

To add to the mix the company is moving from a boxed software sales model to a much more expensive server based model and management want the site to look more and more like an IBM or EDS style site.

I know you must be busy but any thoughts you have would be great. You are welcome to tell me to rack off if I asking to much.

Much respect,

David R.”


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  1. 1

    Thanks Joe, I agree about the homepage, we have just that however it where we take them I’m really concerned about.

    For your macromedia example are you saying to only have product information on a product page? My question is if software registration is the same across our entire product line should I have Register only on the main nav, on the product pages and duplicated on the main nav, or only on the product pages?


  2. 2

    Thanks again. I guess I’m trying to figure out what is best practise for this. My limited sock puppet research has shown people first look for the action then they qualify the action i.e. register then register X product so thinking put them on the global navigation. This also makes sense, as the process is the same across the entire product line. However I have this thought that makes logical sense which is that I’d expect all actions relevant to a product to be located on a product page. I don’t want to duplicate information in both places just coz I don’t know.

  3. 3

    thanks Mal, if I had the link in both the global menu and the product menu I think it would confuse people. I’ve decided to do the following:

    1. Make the only product pages links Buy now and Try now to encourage sales. After purchase considerations such as suport and register will be global.

    2. Look at a content management system, see how the site is working from 1. then I consider creating product specifc links and measure to see if in general sales go up or down as a result.

    cheers all.

  4. 4

    re: having registration calls-to-action on the homepage and on product pages.

    You say this will confuse people. Why? do you have any evidence to support that opinion? What’s the specific worry, that people will see an unexpected link and think “oh no, maybe that means I didn’t register”?

    I think often IAs and others simply decide that something “will confuse users” and then refuse to budge. To me, I can’t imagine expert-level software users (this is after all a 3-D software product) being confused by several ways to do something as common as registering software.

  5. 5

    These guys are smart, but if you give them a choice to do the same thing two ways they would exp. meltdown. They can make SFX for films like the Matrix, but they couldn’t make toast. It’s late here, sorry. Thanks for the advice Andrew.

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