I recently took part in a private jam session in an artist loft in Boerum Hill, a Brooklyn neighborhood filled with old brownstones and industrial buildings.
If you’ve experienced the New York arts scene, the look (and smell) of this loft would be immediately recognizable. Piles of stuff towered over islands of beer bottles. Our host simply had not ever thrown anything out! Holding our guitars high, we weaved our way towards a circle of chairs in the back, stumbling over pet cats and laundry.
Of course, I had a great time – an old-school Brooklyn loft is a great place to play music and sip some beer.
Merging two websites into one
Recently, a prominent professional services organization asked us to merge their two old websites into one all-new website.
Like the old-school loft where the jam session took place, this organization had never thrown anything out. Instead, old content was archived on the website over the years, and it grew and grew. By the time we started, there were over 200 pages of content that no one ever used.
Information architecture: the first step
Information architecture, or website structure, is the crucial first step in working with a large, content-rich site. Information architecture organizes content in a way that responds to the website audience’s needs and interests.
For example, our client offers different services for different target markets. So it makes sense to organize services by target market, rather than alphabetically. As a result, when a prospect visits the website, he will see a section featuring services especially for them.
Currently, our client is bravely wading through years of web pages, deciding what to keep and what to toss.
What to do with too much content
For most organizations, (unless you really do run an archive), a website should not be a landfill for old content. Instead, it should be a streamlined experience that helps your user engage with your organization and take action.
Evaluate the content on your website on a regular basis. Ask yourself:
- Is this important to my audience?
- Is the content concise enough to read on a web page, or should it be in a print format like a PDF? Hint: you read 30% slower online.
- Can my audience find this content on the website? Is it in a logical place?
- Is it scannable? For example, a good way to handle large article archives is to provide a page with document titles and brief summaries. That way, users can decide if they want to dig deeper without a lot of clicking.
FACT OF THE MONTH
Henry Ford, father of the automobile and assembly line, is also father of the charcoal briquette.