freejung - 8:40 pm on Nov 15, 2010 (gmt 0)
I ran across this thread while following up on a recent post about information architecture, and I wanted to note something interesting about the the istockphoto redesign. It appears that they have implemented the redesign discussed in the videos, and I have to say I'm not terribly impressed.
While I can see where they were going in terms of usability and information architecture, their actual SEO is terrible. They are almost completely reliant on their site search feature for navigation of their actual pictures. They have a page of categories, but they are very general categories, they don't rank well, and they are not subcategorized at all.
To me this presents a problem as a user -- I tend to think in categories, and in many cases I would prefer to browse a thorough category structure rather than search by keyword.
Much more importantly, it is terrible for SEO. I happen to know something about this niche, and I have a very good idea of the sort of categorization and terminology that would bring in traffic, and I can tell you, they're not using it. Not even close. They pay for adwords ads to show up at the top of stock photo searches, and you can see why, because they don't do well in organic search at all.
I don't see any problem with relying primarily on site search for nav, that's probably how most users browse the site anyway. However, for SEO this needs to be backed up by a thorough taxonomic catigorization system and text descriptions. So I wouldn't consider this as a good example of information architecture for SEO purposes.
Separating the site into sections by user intent is a great idea and I think they've done a good job of that. However, the section that serves what they themselves said is their primary audience -- that is, people who want to browse and download photos -- is not very well categorized at all, to the point that it would be pretty much impossible to find a particular sort of photo you're looking for without using the site search.