IA – Top 5 tips for organizing website content
Organize content to improve user engagement
Visitors to your website “live” there for a short while: it becomes the “place where they are”. So when creating your information architecture (IA), apply real-world architectural principles to create a sense of “Where am I?”, “Where do I want to go?” and “How do I get there?”. This article is for anyone involved in developing or maintaining website information architecture and/or content for:
This article is for anyone involved in developing or maintaining website information architecture and/or content for:
The building blocks of website content
Whatever the theme or purpose of your website, it consists of:
- pages of content…
- … organized into a structure (an information architecture)…
- … connected to each other by links (in menus and text).
Information architecture is just like real-world building architecture
A website is like a building.
People enter, go from one place to another, view and interact with content in different locations. You need to ensure it’s intuitively easy to find your way around, using recognizable navigational clues.
You need to design a clear layout with lobbies, corridors, stairs and elevators, levels, hallways, doors, rooms, windows and storage. In other words, homepages, navigation bars and tabs, menus, buttons, links, widgets, content pages, text, images…
The basic website architecture is created while the website is being designed. Whether it’s created by the content owners, an information architect or a website designer, the process is the same:
- classify content (aka create a taxonomy)
- map out the content structure
- implement it consistently.
The goal is to ensure that users easily know where they are, what else is available and how to get there.
Respect the structure when you add new content
Information architecture is not something to design in at the beginning and then forget about. You have to keep thinking about it when you add new content. Always put new content in the right place, or users will get very confused very fast.
Keep it well structured and you will reward every visitor. And encourage them to stay longer and return.
How to ORGANIZE your content
Every website needs a person or team who takes responsibility for the content structure. Don’t allow content contributors to decide where new content is placed. They may not understand the classifications and how to apply them.
Avoid placing the same content in different places. Instead, link to it.
If you don’t love or need it, throw it out.
- where to present links to related content (top-right of the page? bottom of page? in running text?…)
- how to present links to related content (establish a standard format such as “Name of link”, “description”, “main takeaways”, “date”, “number of pages” (for documents), etc.)
- what happens when the user clicks on a link to related content (does a link open in the same window or a new tab? If linking to a PDF document, does the link bring the user to a new page about the document, or to the document itself? etc.)
- where and how to present links to external resources.