My friends' scuba shop wanted to redesign their site to make easier to use and update, as well as list all their class, trip, and gear information. The site uses Wordpress and it was fairly easy - do a basic, small business information architecture and implement it, do some front-end work, create some graphics and that's it, right? Yes, until we started looking at the list of courses they teach. There are about 40 classes and we had to figure out how to organize it in a meaningful way for the customer. Learn how we worked through it.
The dive organization Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) has a flowchart on their site to help navigate students through their learning options. Unless you're really familiar with the structure it's really daunting and confusing. It looks like some sort of hierarchy but it isn't and there are random elements listed. See the actual chart here.
To start making sense of these classes, we did a card sort. We had to figure out what classes the shop was teaching - the shop didn't teach all the PADI classes and they also taught Divers Alert Network (DAN) classes. The biggest challenge was trying to make sense of the 20 specialty classes (courses that focused on a specific topic) without making the list seem so overwhelming. This photo shows all the classes - green are general classes and blue are specialty classes.
We ended up sorting the classes into beginner and advanced classes. Customers new to scuba want to know where to start (beginner), then after that, they want to know what they can do next (advanced). We rolled the 20 specialty classes under the advanced classes, but split them in 5 tracks such as the conservationist, the local diver, and so on. It's much easier to navigate now. See the final IA or check it out live on the shop's site!