Information Architecture & Content Development

A website is a collection of webpages that are organized into sections of related content, similar to pages and chapters in books. As books are revised and new editions published, so too must web content be reviewed and updated regularly. A website and its content must be actively managed to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of your audience. Without effective management, websites soon become unwieldy masses of webpages that are out of date and provide little value to anyone. Technology, such as our web content management system, can help you review, revise and manage your content more easily.

One significant difference between websites and books is that people typically start reading a book at the beginning, but because of the power of web search engines, people can start their visit to your website from any page, and may never actually visit your homepage. This makes developing a well-structured information architecture that focuses on the top tasks of your visitors—tasks are what drive people to a website—particularly critical.

A well-managed website is one that has its content continually reviewed, updated and removed, providing more value to its readers. A website that is being managed effectively will require fewer projects to overhaul, redesign, and/or reorganize it. Dedicated resources and a website management strategy facilitate enhancing a website’s effectiveness in an ongoing manner—resulting in a successful site that is useful to its readers.

Unfortunately, all too often websites are viewed as projects, with investments being made only for a short-term overhaul without any long-term management strategy. Website management is and must be an ongoing process, not a one-time project. Projects may kick off a redesign or reorganization of a website, but plans must be made for ongoing operations. Most importantly, this includes developing a strategy and dedicating resources.

When a project to redesign or reorganize your content begins, it is important to remember that each project is unique and that you will need to include a goal of continual improvement to your planning for ongoing operations.

Here are some resources to help you as you develop the information architecture and content for your website:

  • Review Current Site and Processes - Knowing your current situation is a good place to start
  • Develop Your Menu Structure - The key area to focus on is how your information is organized, how the site looks is much less important.
  • Follow the Website Project Guidelines to help your project go smoothly - The project guidelines cover site definition and planning, developing a website management strategy, developing information architecture; site design; site construction and testing; and developing a communications plan.
  • Follow the guidelines for Writing for the Web - Writing for the web is different than for print. Learn some helpful tips.
  • Learn about Web Search Effectiveness - The web is very big so it is important to make sure you help your information be found.
  • Follow Website Best Practices - The web is full of common pitfalls, learn some dos and don'ts.
  • Be aware of Usability and Accessibility best practices - There are lots of things to be aware of to ensure that everyone who visits your site has a positive experience.
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