September 30, 2021 Content | Digital communications

The perfect content structure

By Helena Wennergren

The perfect content structure - what is that? It should be when your users find what they are looking for and your business needs are met. It may very well be a struggle to get everyone internally to agree - here are our experiences on the way to to create the perfect structure.

We recently discussed how to manage the content structure on a corporate website when new content constantly is being added. This article focuses on what to do when it is too late to fix it - when it is time to start over.

When is it time to make an overhaul of your content structure?

When you realise that your content structure has too many pages on all levels, when the website analytics show that important pages aren't visited at all, when you get spontaneous comments on improvements from visitors or when your own colleagues don't find their way around on the website - that's when it is about time to do something about it. Start from scratch.

There can also be other factors that make it essential to rework your content structure, for example when your business has changed due to a larger acquisition or divestment, or when your business strategy changes.

What to do

A website needs to meet the users' expectations and needs, but it is also an important tool for the company to convey their story and share information. These two aspects need to be taken into consideration when creating a content structure. A content structure is about prioritising information, and there are probably a number of internal stakeholders that have different views and needs. As hard as it might sound to some, our advice is to involve all stakeholders that are responsible for different parts of the content. It is essential to have a shared view of the purpose, what external and internal needs are at hand and that those are prioritised and agreed on, together.

At Comprend, we help companies both when doing a total overhaul of the website including design and rebuild, and when it is "just" the content structure that needs to be updated. There are a couple of processes and tools that we find useful in both cases, that we apply when working together with companies. Let's have a look at them.

A shared view through an impact map

When starting over, it is good to go back to the purpose of the website. Who is the website for? Who are the users? What do they do? What do you want to achieve? We use the method of "impact mapping" to establish this. In an impact map, you define the purpose, your user groups, how to solve their needs and most importantly: you prioritise the user groups together.

We help to not get stuck with standard answers and phrases, and make sure that everyone involved understands and agrees. This is where it is really great to have an external party involved who can ask those simple, but sometimes uncomfortable questions. We use research such as website analytics to really understand your users, and list their needs based on that. We can also conduct a website survey to gather insights from real user, and bring that into the impact mapping work.

A visual impact map with purpose, prioritised user groups and content.

An example of an impact map with the purpose of the website in the centre. 

Tools to create the content structure

When it comes to creating the actual structure, there are plenty of tools. Card sorting is a good way to create buckets for your content. Remember to stick to the same labels for corporate content as other companies, to make it easy for users to find information that they look for. See our previous article about when to use best practices. Benchmarking your peers can be good input as well. In some cases, we have had specific taxonomy workshops with clients to agree on definitions and how to group content.

To document your new content structure, a simple Excel file with columns for the levels, target groups, content, importance etc. might very well be the right tool for you. There are also other tools such as Octopus where you can create and work with your content structure. You can also use tools like Miro if you want to visualise it more than in an Excel sheet. Sometimes wireframes or a prototype might be needed to secure that everyone in the project fully understands the suggested new structure.

Some pages will be more important than others. For these, it might be necessary to ensure that you know how your users are getting there, and where you want them to go next. Using a core page definition can help to summarise this. By defining core pages you and your team will also realise that not all content needs to be on the homepage. In your research, you should look at how many of your visitors that start on the homepage. You can also consider other ways of driving traffic to different target groups, for example by promoting links in your communication and by using social media.

Core page template with business goals, user tasks, inward paths, core content and outward paths

Core page template

Testing testing testing

Ok, this is not anything new to anyone. Testing that your content structure works is of high importance - this is why you are doing this project, remember? Testing can be made in many different ways. A prototype - mentioned above - can be great to test as it will be as close to the final solution as possible. Remember to cover your different user groups when testing, and use different types of devices.

So, do we have the perfect structure now? Hopefully, we can say yes to that. And if the need to change it again occurs sooner than you thought it would - you are ready, set, go with how to tackle the task!

Get in touch if you want to know more how we can help you with your content structure!

Cola Herrero-Driver

Cola Herrero-Driver

Head of Client Services

cola.herrero-driver@comprend.com

+44 (0)20 8609 4911

Charlotte Naversten

Charlotte Naversten

Content Strategist/
Project Manager

charlotte.naversten@comprend.com

+46 73 985 55 77