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Information Architecture & Navigation

Bringing the principles of design and architecture to the internet is one of the most essential and complicated parts of laying out, organizing, and labeling the content on websites.

One of the main purposes behind the NYU.edu website is to present to our site viewers an articulate information architecture for the University community that allows them to navigate the site with relative ease without needing to understand the organizational structure of the University.

Organizational content

One of the key principles of NYU.edu is a topically-based organization of content rather than the organizationally-based approach used in the past. This means that site viewers should be able to browse NYU.edu, not knowing anything about which organizational unit within the institution controls the information, yet still finding the information they seek based on a logical topic organization of content.

Image: NYU.edu Channel Page

A simpler way to navigate.

Each channel is structured in a logical top-down manner. Clicking on a channel reveals a breakdown of sub-topics, and clicking on those sub-topics reveals a breakdown of more specific pages in a continuing chain.

The path to that page tracing all the way back to the parent channel appears as a header, allowing easy navigation back to sites that were visited higher up. Through the use of promos, the most pertinent University information, events and sites at a given time should be readily visible on a number of pages.

A goal of NYU.edu is to bridge related content pages, and allow site viewers to navigate between them without being redirected to isolated sites. Individual schools, departments and centers still maintain their own sites which are easily accessible through this new design, but much of the University’s essential information can be accessed through category and content based navigation of the new NYU.edu website.

Topical content (by channel)

Channels and their top-level categories are listed at the bottom of the homepage. This allows site viewers not familiar with NYU.edu a quick and easy understanding of what contents are in which channel.

Each channel serves as an umbrella for information that is specifically-related to that topic. The topically-based navigation is to make information easily accessible to all site viewers. There are currently six Channels: About, Admissions, Academics, University Life, Research, and Global.

Channel pages are the top-most pages in the new site. Immediately beneath the homepage, their main purpose is to highlight the major topics of the channel and call out important information that you need to see.

On the left is information regarding the channel topic, to the right at the top of the page is a highlight. In the center of the page is the channel carousel, highlighting information we think you'll need most.

Roles

Navigating the site as a student, faculty member, employee, alumnus, or a community member has never been easier.

There are five "Roles" - content directly associated with the constituents of the university. They are: Students, Faculty, Alumni, Employees, and Community.

Navigation

One of the major design differences in NYU.edu is the methods to navigate it. The navigation is at the top of the page just below the main header.

Navigation includes the tabbed channels, the gray navigation bar at the top of the page, the role-based navigation at the top of the header, and the secondary drop-down navigations (Schools, QuickLinks, and A-Z).

The navigation that defines the page you're on as well as those pages at the same level and most likely sharing important categorical content is the gray bar navigation.

Schools, QuickLinks, & A-Z are still at the top of each page in almost the same location as the previous design. They look a little different and have a little more information in them, of course.

A-Z results can be broken down into two categories: People and Pages.

NYUHome has taken up a new place at the top of the page along with Schools, QuickLinks, A-Z and the new Role navigation.

Breadcrumbs

In Web design a breadcrumb or breadcrumb trail is the part of the navigation that shows you where you are, similar to the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel".

Breadcrumb trails are often found near the top of Web pages and define both the current location within the site hierarchy as well as primary pages above the current page.

On NYU.edu, there is always a breadcrumb trail just under the navigation at the top of the page to help you get back to the top of the content you're in.

The Footer - Useful Information on Every Page

The footer, which is present on every page, contains the Campus Map, a place to supply the Unversity’s digital communications team with Feedback, and access to the University calendars.

Audience

NYU considers its audience "Site Viewers" or "Site Visitors." It is the purpose of the website to give our site viewers an easy, enjoyable, and positive experience.

While individual sites and pages have more narrow and focused audiences, in a broad sense, the NYU.edu website is directed towards three audiences of site visitors:

  1. Prospective Students and Faculty
  2. Current Students and Faculty
  3. Staff, Administrators, Community, Parents, everyone else

Promos

One of the key elements of NYU.edu's category-driven information architecture is the ability to promote relevant content throughout the site.

Promos are used in part as a product of our choice of information architecture. They're used strategically to call out and raise content out of the deeper levels of the site to highlight it at the appropriate times of the year.

Promos are meant to call out specific, relevant, related content such as events, news, deadlines, or documentation. 

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