Today we’re answering your questions. Something we’re often asked about is how you should structure your website. One problem we often see with website navigation is that the content is organized by format and/or date. In other words, there are separate top level options for case studies, articles, white papers, video, press, etc. Or your blog is categorized by the year and month articles are created. Here’s why we don’t recommend that.
What Are They Looking For?
When your audience is searching for the answers to questions they have about a particular product or service, they don’t think about the format of the content. “I wonder what kind of white papers this company has,” said no one ever.
They want the answer to their question. It’s much better to organize your content topically. If I get the information I need, I don’t particularly care that you called it a case study or an update or if it was a video with transcript or just an article. Organize according to what your audience needs and where they are in the buying process. Current customers are at a different stage of the buying process and have different information needs than someone researching a product for example.
What If You Have More Than One Audience?
You may need to include content on your website for multiple audiences. For example, a nonprofit organization may have three different audiences – clients who the nonprofit serves in their mission, donors who contribute to the nonprofit, and volunteers the nonprofit is trying to recruit. Each of these groups has different needs.
So how do you serve all these different people with the same website? Well, one way is to make it easy for people to self identify who they are and what they are looking for. So on your home page for example, you might have sections titled: For Clients, For Donors, and For Volunteers. Include what each needs to know and a suggested path through your content. Don’t discount the power of making things blindingly obvious!
The bottom line is this. We’ve said it a million times, but it’s worth repeating – answer the questions people have about your product or service. Organize your website from the point of view of your audience and what they need, not how you internally organize your information. And don’t forget to use the words your audience uses, not the industry insider terms you use each day.