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Organizing the Content of Your Website
Well-organized website content improves usability and search engine optimization, which reduces user frustration and fosters feelings of goodwill among your site's visitors.
When measuring a website's usability, these "markup" factors are highly influential and have meaning:
- Bold text
- Bulleted lists
- Topic sentences
It’s not about how things look; it’s about how you’re conveying information to all users (including those using alternative browsing methods—on mobile platforms or for accessibility—or those who are using search engines or quickly scanning a page).
Page Titles and Headers
Each page title (which appears in the code, and at the top of the page within
tags) should make sense even if the reader sees it entirely out of context, as in a web search result.
Titles and headings should accurately describe the content of the text to follow. They should not be mysterious or overly wordy. Do not include links within headers.
Page content should be organized with the use of headings in HTML header tags (
, etc.). This will ensure that all browsers (including those for the visually impaired) will correctly interpret the content of the page, and will also properly order information for search engine optimization.
Proper use of section headers will help your website have a consistent look and feel, and will aid your users in quickly and easily parsing the content of each page.
Introduce Your Topic
If your content is specific to a particular audience, identify that group as quickly as possible to attract the audience you want and let others continue their search elsewhere.
Do not assume that your reader has arrived at your page through any particular path. Be sure the purpose of the page is clear, and provide links, if necessary, to more (or less) advanced materials.
Group Related Information
When similar content is scattered throughout your site instead of together on the same page or group of pages, users may have trouble finding all the details they need, or knowing whether they've exhausted your resources on the topic.
Keeping like with like also helps prevent the duplication of materials, and eases the task of maintaining current information.
Characteristics of Well-Organized Content
- Content is organized logically, based on the users' needs, not the organization's.
- Content that is most-often used and most important is kept or linked near the top of the hierarchy tree.
- Users are not forced to scroll to discern the content's organization.
- Bulleted lists are used for non-procedural lists; ordered or numbered lists for procedural tasks. Lists let folks know at a glance that you’re listing several things. People hearing the page will even get helpful information like “list of 9 items.” The indented text and additional white space also helps people quickly scan the page.
- Intra-page links (anchors) are not used as they diminish the impact of information. Usability and search engine optimization are both improved with several shorter pages rather than a single long page.
- Organization-centric information (about us) is separated from task-oriented information (how to).
- "Contact Us" information is maintained in a single central location for the organization and is linked from relevant places.