Exploring the IA of Disney Food Blog to Plan my Next Vacation

Exploring the IA of Disney Food Blog to Plan my Next Vacation
Photo by Perry Merrity II / Unsplash

Disney Food Blog, known as DFB for short, is precisely what its title describes. The blog focuses on dining at Walt Disney World and its surrounding resorts, known as the Disney Bubble. DFB provides updates on new food offerings, seasonal treats, and restaurant closings or menu changes. What sets this blog apart is that they have DFB Guides, which offer detailed dining offerings and planning for guests. A great example to check out is their EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Guide 2023, which provides maps of the park noting all the dining locations they recommend guests try while on vacation.

Over time, the blog has expanded past Disney dining news and has become one of the most reliable news blogs for guests traveling to Walt Disney World. Ride closures, inclement weather, and ticket price changes are only a few examples of what DFB covers. With 1.1 million followers on Instagram and over 11k posts, this blog has proven to be an effective news outlet for Disney lovers by successfully planning the information architecture of their site.

User-Centered Approaches

DFB has done a great job with its user-centered approach in understanding how to tailor their content specifically to readers interested in enhancing their Disney vacation. Planning a vacation can be stressful. However, having a trusted news outlet with their employees on the ground at Disney locations and giving live updates helps to understand their audience. Disney-goers want to have the best time on their vacation, so using DFB food guides to help pre-plan their meals, especially for those with large families, takes the stress away, allowing users to keep coming back to DFB since the content is authentic. 

Visual Aids and Actionable Content

Since the creation of the blog was due to the extensive dining options at Walt Disney World, DFB has created a great example of visual aids and actionable content by condensing that information into guidebooks. Many guidebooks are available on their site, depending on what type of dining plans the user may be interested in. These guidebooks are also downloadable to mobile devices, so users can take them into the parks and use the guide in real-time. While there is a price to pay for these guidebooks, the information offered can prevent stress during the madness of the moment while trying to find something to eat on a busy day in Disney.

Design and Navigation

The design and navigation of DFB flow well but could use some work. When looking at the desktop and mobile versions of the site, there are a few issues. The mobile site seems overwhelming; for example, when looking at the top menu on the desktop version, you can see eight dropdown sections for navigating the site, which at first looks fine. However, the dropdowns have submenus with several subcategories, which look very congested on a mobile device. 

Photo by Amanda Austin from DisneyFoodBlog.com

When switching to the desktop version and selecting one of the options in the subcategories, there is a link that leads to Disney World Restaurants Menus & Reviews, which includes 900 individual links to external pages or menus, recommendations, and more. To a first-time user, this may be a bit much to handle, especially if a user needs help utilizing the search function on their desktop to search for a specific restaurant or menu. The opposite occurs with the mobile site since it does not make the list look as extensive, but the user will still have to search for a while if they're looking for a specific menu or restaurant. 

Hierarchy of Information

DFB ensures that breaking news is front and center on their site. On the desktop version, there is a scrolling blog gallery that shows their most recent or essential articles. Then, the content is divided by what the user is interested in reading about, such as food news, WDW news, or Disneyland news. The site's homepage looks more manageable on the mobile version as the layout has information blocks that flow more efficiently on a device. Still, DFB considered the hierarchy of how their information is displayed on its mobile and desktop sites, with the most recent and essential news listed as the first thing the user sees.

Searchability

There is a search function option, but it can be utilized more effectively. For example, I wanted to search for more information about restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge, one of the Walt Disney World on-property resorts. When I entered the term Animal Kingdom Lodge, several Google Ads populated first, trying to lead me toward hotel booking sites such as Expedia and VRBO. When I continued scrolling, I could finally see the search options I was looking for. This is not my favorite type of layout because some users only want to find what they're searching for and can become deterred when ads direct them to another site. I'm open to ads, but there are better uses of content prioritization than having them be at the forefront of the article search.

Photo by Amanda Austin from DisneyFoodBlog.com

How DFB Helps Plan My Personal Website

When comparing Disney Food Blog to the personal website I'm currently working on, their site has given me some good ideas. I prefer a clean, sleek look for my site using a black and white color block foundation. I like that DFB uses color, but some of the colors they use clash, such as using reds and greens too close together.

One thing I worried about with my site is having too much information for a user to comprehend. However, after exploring DFB and seeing how much information they have on their site, I can comfortably add more to my site without it looking overwhelming to a user. 

Overall, I need to examine sites related to my discourse in the eyes of how their information architecture is displayed. Looking at sites in this way can give me ideas and options I may have yet to think about previously, which can improve the overall look and usage of my site.

Amanda Austin

Amanda Austin

I am a passionate writing professional with skills in technical and professional writing, blogging & web design, a career in higher education, and an M.A. in Technical and Professional Writing.
Brunswick, Georgia