Website designing using Information Architecture concepts


"Design is more than aesthetic. Design is fundamentally more."

- My motto during this project

This is how the final website looks on desktop



Group project with 4 other members

Project Aspects

Information Architecture

My Role

User Experience Designer, Tester

Contributions are listed at the end of project description


Sept - Dec 2014 (10 weeks)



Project Summary

Traveling along with animals has always been troublesome. Our group created a well-designed website that provides valuable information to its users that wished to travel with animals.

We targeted a specific demographic of 30 to 40-year-old American professionals living outside of Seattle, who have no children but at least one cat and/or dog. With our initiative, we tried to encourage these adults to travel with their pets.

For this project, we focused on

  1. Easy access to information
  2. Ease of use of the website
  3. Tags and content based search strategy
  4. Forum creation

We provided content about tourist attractions in Seattle, as a model destination. We gave tips for travelling, which we believe would hopefully alleviate our users’ fears or worries about taking trips. Via the PetTrip website, we tried to encourage users to take advantage of all the locally available services promoted on our site. Wetried to foster a pet loving community in our forums.

Problem Statement

We were assigned a project in a group of five to utilize best practices in user experience design and information organization to develop a website that would be useful for people in the age group 30-40. We narrowed down our audience to single professionals living with their pets and wanting to make most of their time with their ideal friend (cat/dog).


Design Process

• Brainstorming
• User Research
• Persona Creation
• User Flow
• Category Structure and Planning
• Site Structure Map
• Wireframes
• Functionality Testing
• Usability Testing
• Prototyping



We worked to refine our demographic of adults aged 30-50 with no children and determined that it would be optimal to target working professionals with disposable income. Each group member present at the meeting proposed a different focus for the website, ranging from social networking, health concerns, to pet care. Ultimately it was decided that we should follow our initial instinct and create a site that would provide information about luxury vacations, thereby serving the needs of a successful professional with vacation time, few reasons to stay home, and financial resources.


User Research

We came up with a set of survey questionnaire for our target audience that would help us in understanding their needs and the features they would like to see in our product. We conducted a survey on working professionals between the age group of 30 to 40, wanting to know about their habits, areas of interest in traveling, weekend activity preferences, the amount of time they spend with their pet and the amount of time they spend for buying products for their pets. We conducted well-structured user interviews with people at Petco stores, with our friends and family members that fell under our target audience and collected their opinions.


Persona Creation


#1:- Sally is 33. She’s never been married, has no kids, and lives in a nice apartment in Chicago. She loves her cats, spends a lot of time with them, and worries about their health. She’s got a great job as an Information Specialist in a big city and has a good amount of disposable income.  She likes to live a luxurious life and is brand conscious. She works hard at her job, and believes that, in general, people should be responsible. She exhibits a high level of integrity and passion. She believes credible information should be available to everyone. She wishes to take trips to destinations far off but is concerned about her cats.


#2:- Rick (38) and Lisa (34) have been married for 5 years. They met at a dog park in Los Angeles, where they both live. They have two dogs, a golden retriever and a German shepherd. Lisa is a lawyer and Rick is in advertising, and they are both committed to their careers. They recently bought a nice house with a big yard. They are both pretty active and love to go for runs with their dogs. Lisa’s mom recently was diagnosed with breast cancer so they will both have to travel to Lisa’s family home frequently over the next few months. While both Rick and Lisa have gone away on business trips before, they never travelled at the same time so someone was always home with the dogs. The last time they travelled together was their honeymoon, and they left their dogs with friends for that week. Since they will be travelling frequently, they want to find a different solution this time.


#3:- Hector (32) and Sam (30) have been partners for the last 5 years and decided two years ago to move to Portland from Salt Lake City to take advantage of Sam’s new Developer role at Nike. Both feeling it is too soon to think about adopting a child, came to the conclusion that maybe a dog would be a safer start. Two years after buying their dog Lola they are happy with their decision. Lola is well groomed, and lives like the princess they believe her to be. She is the always the center of attention and gets whatever she wants. Unfortunately Hector and Sam wish they could take longer vacations further away enjoying all that each place has to offer without the guilty feeling that they were leaving their baby with strangers.


User Flow

A typical user flow for persona #1 is created below. 2 user flows were created to handle complex situations.

Typical Userflow for "Sally" (persona #1)


Content Strategy and Planning

We prepared a taxonomy structure for defining locations for the content we collected. A content implementation plan was developed which is essentially a spreadsheet containing:

  1. All the content
  2.  Location, where the content goes on the website
  3.  Attributes and tags important for each piece of content

Taxonomy Structure


Site Structure Map

A site structure map was created to depict the navigation on the website alongwith child elements at each menu option.

Site Structure Map used for designing search strategy



The high-fidelity wireframes were generated to show how the website would look upon creation. Two separate wireframes were developed- for desktop and mobile layouts of the responsive website.

homepage wireframe
mobile wireframe
deepest wireframe

Functionality Testing

The functionality testing was undertaken in two phases -

1. Homepage testing: Testing was carried out on all the clickable items like navigation menu sections and sub-sections on homepage, the homepage title, social media icon and search bar. The featured content consisting of 6 category boxes was tested separately on each box. Finally, the footer section was tested.

2. Featured post testing:  Random testing of 5 posts belonging to different sections was carried out. Testing was done on the 'You are here', 'Login', 'Archives', 'Forums', 'Share it' and 'Keywords' sections on the right sidebar. Content of posts were also checked.

Issues Found:

  1. The featured content boxes were not leading to the correct pages for all of them.
  2. The FAQ  box was directing to the 404 error page instead of the FAQ page.

These tests were carried out in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera browsers.


Usability Testing

Test Case #1: Mariah, 31, Missoula MT, 1 small dog, wants to know more about visiting her sister in Seattle

Task 1: Look for information about how to drive with her dog.

Result: Failure

Task 2: Look for a hotel near the university district where her sister lives that will let her have her dog.

Result: Failure

Task 3: Create an account and ask a question in the forum.

Result: Success.


Test Case #2: Sheryl Johnson, 44-year-old woman, married with a schnauzer, visiting Seattle

Task 1: looking for are a pet friendly hotel or place where my husband and I can stay

Result: Success.

Task 2: stores around the area of her hotel that supply pet food

Result: Success.

Task 3: Looking for places like parks where I can walk my dog.

Result: Success


Test Case #3: Darrell Snicks, 34, looking to travel with my dog and partner, to Seattle for the week.  

Task 1: Find Hotels

Result: Success

Task 2: Find Restaurants

Result: Partial Success.

Task 3: Find pet friendly activities

Result: Success.



The website's prototype was created and presented in the class receiving a mid-term award for the best website design.

The active prototype of the PetTrip Website can be found at: 

Link to PetTrip Website:-


My Contribution

As a UX Designer and Tester (sharing the position with others), my focus was on using information architecture concepts in effective user experience design. During the project I collaborated with designated Information Architect and utilized my creative skills for solving search and content mapping problems. I was in charge of:

  1. User Interface (beyond the selected theme)
  2. Search Engine Optimization
  3. Content Planning
  4. Personas
  5. User Flows
  6. Wireframes
  7. Usability Testing

Final Thoughts

I learnt about creating large-scale web projects in an organized setup using Information Architecture concepts. Understanding that UI/UX design should focus on solving problems and not just being pretty was a key takeaway. I spent no-time on visual design and instead learnt how to test the project for targeted problem solving ability.