Strategy follows structure – While designing strategy oriented websites

This topic is very relevant when we realize the importance of aligning Information Architecture (IA) with the business strategy. The topic that we reflect on refers to how business strategy and IA are related. It means that business strategy drives the structural design or the IA. In other words, the website IA should support the strategic fit of the business enterprise.

I would like to base any of my IA strategy work on this core concept which drives enterprise Information architecture. The research phase involves analysis of current and future business strategy, where-in I learn that the company’s strategy is to utilize its core expertise (x+ years of domain knowledge, managing and processing power, proprietary technological tools and solutions, marketing intelligence and best customer support) in the ABC industry and continue generating revenues by retaining existing customers (variety of audiences) and by improving existing online services and experience. This would mean that the website IA strategy should focus on this core strategic fit (competitive advantage in ABC solutions) and improve existing online experience so that it leads to customer retention and thus steady flow of revenues. Thus a well prepared IA strategy would analyze the current site structure and will propose the most optimal structure to realize the set strategies.

Analysis of has a strong IA as related to supporting its core business strategy to drive “customer-driven innovation”. Dell’s strategy is to put customers first and satisfy their needs by delivering most suited products and solutions. Looking at the website, it is evident that the top navigation on home page is targeted on the various audiences and their specific product/solutions needs. Each main audience specific content group is further subdivided into products and products are further sub-divided into organization type (‘For Office’ & ‘For Data Center’).

When you go inside a specific audience’s content group, say ‘For Office’ –> ‘Desktops’ –> ‘Small & Medium Business’, the content is further organized based on user actions – eg: ‘Shop’, ‘Services and Warranties; ‘Support’, ‘Resource center’, ‘MyAccount’. This further supports the business strategy to better serve its specific customers based on their unique demands.

Considering any of my client’s focus on satisfying its various audiences through improved services and support, Dell’s website (another alternative was HP) structure/IA is a good example that would fit my client’s IA. The main structural aspect that I would like to incorporate is the audience specific content organization on the home page and specific audience’s action oriented content organization for each audience.