Information Architecture is hard

On a whim I registered the warcraft.fishing domain. I should have learnt from long ago never to do this after registering so many domains with well-intended ideas, but, ho hum, here we are. Again.

See, I’m a bit of a fishing nut in World of Warcraft and since one of the best fishing resources (El’s Extreme Angling) has all-but disappeared from the Internet (thanks, Archive.org!) I figured I could try and step in and at least cover some basics. Before I knew it I was getting excited about writing content and getting something out there.

But then the realisation hit me that I'd have to start designing menus, page layouts, and all manner of things before I could even start Gulp’ing or Webpack’ing anything.

“Oh, balls”, I thought. What have I gotten myself in to?

I started freaking out about how the navigation would look. Would there be hover states? Would there be expanding multi-tier menus? Would it be vertical or horizontal? And oh my God have I considered every option? How would it look on mobiles? Tablets? Apple watches?!

Then I remembered a book about content strategy my Team Lead gave me a few months ago which briefly touched on the importance of information architecture and how taking the time to detail the types of content you’re offering to your users and planning accordingly is well worth the initial effort (read: delay).

Suddenly I was writing a list of articles, grouping and organising them in to categories, asking fellow-gamers what they’d expect to see as potential visitors, wondering if category B can be broken down further, or whether it needs a top-level menu item.

I’ve still got a fair amount of planning left before I start writing code, and man, is it hard. It’s taking up a lot of my time -- in part because it’s unfamiliar -- but also because it’s something new and that’s probably the most exciting thing of all.

I plan to document the progress I’m making, with photographs of all my hastily arranged post-it notes and scribbled out lists, but for now as my old school teacher once said; It’s not difficult, it’s just unfamiliar.