Let’s face it: looks matter. That’s why, when businesses revamp their websites, they devote significant time to its appearance and not as much time to its function.
Yet websites are one of the most powerful and frequently used marketing tools. So if your website is hard to navigate and visitors can’t find the information they are looking for, it won’t matter if it’s pretty.
If you are creating, revamping or reevaluating your website, consider these simple yet often overlooked basics of website content organization:
First, Identify These Three Things.
- Brand. Who are you? Are you a media website offering loads of information and education? Are you nonprofit offering assistance to those in need? Are you a retailer selling a product? Define your brand’s identity and move forward from there.
- Call to action. What do you want your visitors to do? Do you want them to read, give you their email address, register for a webinar, donate, or make a purchase? Identify what you want your website visitors to do when they’re on your website, and you’ll have a better understanding as to how to organize your content.
- Target audience. Who is your website for? Your audience may be in multiple types. For example, a nonprofit website’s audience will more than likely be people in need of their services, donors, sponsors, volunteers, board members, and foundations. Knowing the people who make up your audience will give you insight. Look at your website through their eyes and imagine how they would like to see content displayed for their personal UX.
These tips help you to organize your website better:
The simpler the website structure, the better. Consider the content that will go on each page. Is it necessary? Can it fit in elsewhere? Remove or consolidate pages when possible.
Within the page, keep paragraphs short. Use headers, sub-headers and bullet points to make the content easily scannable.
Find out what your audience wants to know, and make sure that information is prominent, both within the website navigation and within the page content itself.
Consider your website from an outsider’s perspective; if find that you can’t be objective, then get a small group of trusted clients, connections or even friends and family to review the site. You don’t have to take all of their suggestions, but they might be able to spot problems with the organization faster than someone on the inside.
Your visitors should not have to search hard for the information they are looking for. Even if the content is buried pages deep, the path to get there should be clear. Don’t base your content organization on internal perspectives or structure. Instead, think about how your audience would actually search for a topic. The content that is on your website should be intuitive. Review websites that you admire and enjoy visiting, and consider what makes them so user-friendly, then apply that logic to your own content.
Encourage exploration of your site and ensure visitors find what they are looking for by including internal cross-links throughout your content and utilizing sidebars and other prominent content areas to reference your most significant content.
The fewer clicks it takes to get to a page, the better. This is why so many websites include dropdown menus (and it’s another reason why you want to keep your navigation concise since large dropdown menus can be overwhelming, as well as difficult to navigate on mobile).
Once again, make the most important pages the most prominent ones, and within your page content, make sure the key information is front and center.
THESE PAGES SHOULD BE ON EVERY WEBSITE CONTENT.
No matter your business, service, or purpose of your website, it should go without saying that there are certain pages that every website should have. These pages will set the stage for how the rest of your content should be organized. Consider these pages as the foundation of your site and your additional content.
- Home. Your home page is the first thing people see when they visit your URL. This page should be a brief overview of your brand identity—who you are and what you do
- About. This page allows for more storytelling. It’s there that you can go into more detail about the history, mission, and purpose of your organization and website.
- Contact. There are actually websites that exist without any contact information listed anywhere. Hopefully, these forgetful website owners are your competitors. One of the easiest ways to nab a sale or achieve whatever goal your website has set is to include a contact page on your website. It should include any and all ways that a visitor (potential client) can get a hold of you: email, phone number, postal address, physical address (if you have a brick-and-mortar location), and a contact form on that page that a user can easily fill out and submit.
- Blog. Your blog works as your news hub and allows for the opportunity to continually add fresh, new content to your website. Search engines love that. One of the easiest ways to boost your SEO is to blog regularly.
AVOID THESE THINGS.
- Cluttered navigation bar. The navigation bar is the main navigational menu usually located at the top of your website that helps visitors move from one page to another. Now that you’re inspired to organize your content neatly, don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you dump the entire kitchen sink there. Use your navigation bar to display your main product, service, or topic categories (i.e., tools), then rely on subcategories (i.e., hammers) to be displayed in a drop-down menu for each one.
- Long drop-down menus. But don’t allow your drop-down menus to be so long that they match the length of your web page. Remember, you’re trying to create a pleasant UX for your visitor. Consider consolidating subcategories and relying on “more” in order to control the length of your drop-down.
Website content that is organized shows that you care about the visitor experience on your site and value their time, which will encourage them to return. You may even instill loyalty due to your thoughtfulness. So, view your site through the eyes of your customers. What can you improve? Which content needs clearer pathways? If you need assistance with organizing website content, contact us. We would love to help by providing an audit and making recommendations.