The Information Architecture of Military One Source

The Information Architecture of Military One Source

Military One Source is a website designed to be a “catch-all” of information with military members and their families as the targeted audience. The Department of Defense developed this website to provide general information, resources, and confidential help that support all aspects of military life. On the Military One Source “About Us” page, it says they are “your 24/7 connection to information, answers and support to help you reach your goals, overcome challenges and thrive.” A visitor to this website can access financial help, counseling, consultation, and education services, along with military branch specific information if desired. They logically structured the digital content to help the user find information fast using helpful navigation features. The structuring of the main menu and submenus are organized and labeled so that the content is clearly identifiable and points the user to the most relevant data.

Design Elements

The web pages are well-balanced like Brian Carroll describes in his chapter on “Designing Places and Spaces” in the book Writing for Digital Media. Carroll writes, “A well-balanced page will typically be easy to read because all of the elements of the layout appear to be in the right place, with no particular element competing too strongly for our attention” (106). The website takes care to give each bit of information their own space on the page and does not overwhelm the reader with too much to look at. Their extensive menu system effectively provides a page to address each level of concern a visitor might have. Each page also contains functional hyperlinks to additional or related topic info. There are clear paths of navigation that help the user access specific information.

The home page for Military One Source uses a symmetrical pattern of information. The elements of the grid pattern are a large box on the left and three accompanying boxes on the right aligned evenly to each other. The larger box is used to show headline articles. It currently presents the collaboration with Sesame Street to help military families navigate daily challenges. With the use of buttons, the three aligning blocks show snippets of page information and send the user to learn more about counseling, teleworking for spouses in Italy, and how leaders can learn to help their service members with financial well-being. Scrolling down the home page, they list the categories of information in a block pattern. This style choice gives a visual representation of navigation in addition to the navigation and drop-down menu at the top of the home page. There are fifteen tiles that present broad categories for the user to select from. The blocks have a white background with a blue tinted picture that illustrates the page’s content along with a brief description. The layout is visually stimulating and organized. This makes managing the content of the website very user-friendly.

Essential Labeling

Military One Source has an extensive and successful labeling system. Each section of information is labeled and tagged to identify common challenges a military member may face. The website provides a search bar that has an embedded question, “What can we help you find?” Asking a question could help the user isolate what they need and identify relevant content to support their quest for resources. The success of this system falls in line with how Louis Rosenfeld et al. define findability in their book, Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond. They state, “findability is a critical success factor for overall usability” (25). The information architecture of Military One Source keeps the user and targeted audience at the forefront of their design choices. The website uses proper headings, graphics, and design elements that make the content accessible and comprehensive, which accent their findability factor. As an official government website, the style is consistent and thorough. I do not see much room for improvement because it is so carefully organized and thoughtful. There is also a red menu label for users in crisis that provides phone numbers and links to a live chat agent if someone is in danger and needs help. The website is well thought out.

My Personal Website Needs Improvement

My website, https://www.magic-of-books.net/, could use some improvements in page layout and navigation. Carrol’s advice on Web page design suggests a page layout “should create a consistent visual rhythm or pace for the reader as he or she moves through the page” (104). We establish the rhythm with the shapes and colors used on the page and their relation to each other. My page lacks any rhythm or cohesion, so in my updates, I plan to add elements that create a better flow of information. I will also need to add more navigation content to the website, but that will come when I add more information. Once I start generating blogs and writing articles, I will have more material to add to the navigation menu.

I found a useful YouTube video that articulates information architecture in a different way that helped me understand the significance of it.

What is Information Architecture? (UX Design Guide)

I see the value in labeling and creating visually stimulating images since analyzing the Military One Source website. There needs to be balance and symmetry for the web page to be navigable and user friendly. My website will embody similar elements once it is out of its infancy.

Jessica Steverson

I am a retired Air Force veteran. I have a bachelor's degree in Sociology and I received my master's in English. I love to read and watch movies. My professional goal is to become a technical writer.
Ludowici, GA