Whether you’re creating a new site from scratch or just giving your site a facelift, content on the site can be a challenge to deal with. Inevitably, there is always either too much content or not nearly enough! In this blog post, we won’t be dealing with creating content as much as we’ll be dealing with how to go about organizing your existing content!
Take an Inventory
The first step in organizing your content is to make sure you take an inventory of everything that is either existing or proposed for the site. If you will be replacing your current site with a new one, there are some tools out there (like Screaming Frog) that will crawl your site and return a list of all the pages as well as some on-page SEO elements. This is usually a great place to start and helps you get a handle on all that content.
Good ol’ Pencil and Paper
Even though we’re a digital agency, sometimes there’s nothing more effective than a good ol’ pencil and paper! Once you have your pages listed out, get yourself some 3×5 index cards. Cut them in half if you need to. You’re going to take each page in your inventory and write the name of it (include a description if you need to) on an index card. If you have 25 pages in your site, you’ll have 25 index cards at the end.
Once you’ve got your cards complete, you go through two rounds of sorting the cards. Have people in your organization (having actual customers do this is even better!) put the cards in groups and make notes about what cards are typically grouped together. You’ll quickly start to see two things:
- Most people group things in similar piles
- A few cards always switch between groups, depending on who is grouping them. Once a person has made their groups, have them name each group something they think fits.
What you’re doing is trying to understand how different people think of your content. Why did they group “about us” with “history”? If there are cards that people struggle to group together, you may want to consider removing those pages from the site completely. Alternatively, you might want to take the content on those pages and combine it with another page. That decision can be made by best understanding your user paths – but that’s for another blog post!
Create the Sitemap
After you have your groups named and you know the pages inside each group, you just have to put together the Sitemap. We just use a spreadsheet to document it all, which allows us to add some on-page elements to each page. It’s a nice way to keep everyone on the same page. If you’re part of a development team though, it may make more sense to just implement in whatever system you’re using. In either case, you’ve managed to wrangle in that content beast and create a nicely-organized site!
Clear as a Bell Summary
Planning your site architecture can be a challenging task – especially when you’re converting legacy content! But, if you begin by taking an inventory and then enlisting the help of your colleagues and customers, you can pretty quickly decide what content should stay and where it should live inside the site.
If you’d like more information on how to effectively plan your site, we’ve got an entire guide we’ve assembled to help you. If you need further help ensuring your site architecture matches your strategy, or you’re interesting in having your site earn you more leads or more sales, we’d love to talk to you more about how we could help!
If you prefer video…
Check out Jeff’s video he originally created to help you with card sorting.