Title: Information Architecture, Marketing, and Usability and the design of the STARS Alliance Web Portal.


Purpose of the Research:

The purpose of this presentation is to explore how the applies used of information architecture and usability continue to drive the overall design, development, and evaluation of the STARS Alliance Web site (www.staralliance.org). Building off our works-in-progress poster session presented at ALISE 2007 entitled, "That's what I'm talking about! Designing Web sites using age-oriented graphic design and information architecture", which discussed the study's research questions and shared our preliminary data, we have since conducted additional research involving overall redesign of our prototypes in response to middle school (n=7), high school (n=6, n=6) and college student (n=8) feedback.




Research Questions:

  1. How do you design a Web site for diverse populations spanning middle schools to college aged users?
  2. Do middle school, high school, and undergraduate students have different information needs?
  3. How do you link organization goals with marketing goals and align with overall Web site design?
  4. How do you evaluate both the design and Web site to ensure it is highly usable in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and overall satisfaction.



Research Base:

    The theoretical framework of this study is based off of three primary areas of the literature: Information seeking and information behavior, information architecture and Web design, and usability.




In a effort to protect against general threats to the study's internal validity and reliability, a mixed method approach has been used involving focus groups, surveys of both internal project faculty and staff and targeted project student, parent, and advisor participants, analysis of Web site analytics, and usability evaluation and testing.



The significance of the study centers around three primary points. First, is that this project is an example of the application of theory in a real-world setting that truly bridges theory and practice. Second, this study provides an example of how faculty and students can work together to pursue and enhance both research and teaching and learning objectives, essential to a quality education in library and information studies. Third, this study documents how to effectively integrate marketing, information architecture, and usability to design highly effective, relevant information spaces for unique user groups.