3Dsolved.com Information Architecture

Homepage of 3DSolved.com
Homepage of 3DSolved.com

The website I selected to analyze to understand information architecture was 3Dsolved.com. It is a website that advises on 3D printing, focusing on the Ender 3 as a specific printer, though the website also provides general information that any 3D printer could use. I chose this website because it is my discourse community and similarly focuses on one 3D printer, though a different printer than mine.

The menu structure was prominently positioned across the top of the page, specifically on the right-hand side. This strategic placement ensured that viewers had a clear and intuitive way for visitors to access the navigation options. There were four primary categories, that the viewer can navigate. These categories included "Printers," "General 3D Printing," "3D Printing Guides," and "Recommended Products." The fifth option, allowed users to determine which language they wanted to use, either English or Spanish.

English Menu of 3DSolved.com
English Menu of 3DSolved.com

There was a subsection, titled "Ender 3", as a drop-down for the menu for the "Printers" category. This shows the future plans for the website; however, it also appears premature, as only having one subsection disrupts the navigational flow. It is understandable, though, for future menu development, when the website adds another printer, then having separate subsections for each specific printer would make sense.

Three subsections dropped down from the "recommended products" category. These subsections were "recommended 3D printers," "recommended upgrades," and "recommended filaments." These drop-downs help provide additional organization to the recommendations, representing a user-friendly approach to organizing product recommendations on the website. This structured and efficient way to find specific types of 3D printing products caters to various needs and preferences while enhancing navigation. The lack of a search bar on the website, however, hinders the website's usability especially as the volume of content continues to expand over multiple pages under each category.

Content

The labeling of articles through headings and sub-headings ensures that users can navigate and comprehend the content effectively. These headings create a structured and organized reading experience. However, there were issues with some of the articles being placed under the wrong category or even language, which reduced the value of the navigation pathways the menu provided. Another thing is that the website allows the reader to choose between English and Spanish as their language; however, there is a disparity in content. Expectations were the same content translated, and it is instead different articles with even the main menu being different.

Spanish Menu for 3DSolved.com
Spanish Menu for 3DSolved.com

The content hierarchy was based on when the articles were published. Priority is given to the newest articles; however, the website has not been updated in over a year since that was when the last posting was shown to have been made on the home page. This is also proven by the website's general 3D printing category, where the highest priority article is about the costs of 3D printing in 2022; however, when this article was published in 2022 needs to be clarified due to lack of dating. A lack of date, even if the title had said 2023, would reduce the usability of a website since it is challenging for users to gauge the relevance of the content.

General 3D Printing Category of 3DSolved.com
General 3D Printing Category of 3DSolved.com

Analysis

The organization of a website is the basis for a website's information architecture, so once that was destroyed, not only was navigation reduced, but so was the website's credibility. To enhance the website's information architecture, I suggest implementing five improvements:

  1. Reorganized Categorization: Each piece of information must be placed in the correct category. This reorganization will enhance the user experience and ensure smooth navigation.
  2. Search Functionality: Adding a search bar will increase the website's usability. Users will be able to search for information quickly. 
  3. Subsection Simplification: Consider temporarily removing the subsection under "Printers" until another type of printer is introduced. This will streamline the menu by eliminating a single subsection, simplifying navigation, and preventing unnecessary complexity.
  4. Consistency Across Languages: Ensure that both the English and Spanish versions of the website maintain consistency in terms of information and design. This consistency fosters user trust and a cohesive browsing experience while meeting the users' expectations of a similar experience, regardless of the language chosen.
  5. Inclusion of Publication Dates: Make it a standard practice to display publication dates under article titles, not just for articles on the homepage. This approach offers transparency, allowing users to assess the relevance and timeliness of the content they're accessing throughout the entire website.

These five adjustments will collectively improve the website's information architecture and enhance the overall user experience. By prioritizing accuracy, searchability, language consistency, and transparency, the website will increase credibility and usability.

Reflection

The information I have gathered by reviewing 3Dsolved.com has helped me understand where I can boost my website in terms of information architecture. I'm planning to add a search bar to my website. In the future, I will be paying greater attention to categories to ensure that my articles are posted under the correct category so I do not reduce my own credibility. My menu choices are organized and easy to navigate for what my goals in my discourse community.

Theresa Baraga

I am working toward a Master of Arts in Technical and Professional Writing from MGA. Currently I am working as a tax accountant and am exploring 3D printing as a hobby.
Las Vegas, NV