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Confab 2018: Structuring Content to Empower Users

The way you organize your web content changes the way users can find it, understand it, and act on it. Your content may already be organized logically (well done, you!), but what if it could do more? What if the structure itself could make your content more meaningful, more sustainable, and more powerful in helping users reach their goals?

This talk discusses how making small (but strategic) changes to the way you organize your content can empower your users. We’ll look at real-world examples of how categories, hierarchies, and labels impact information literacy, and you’ll walk away knowing:
-Key principles for organizing information
-Methods for applying those principles to the web
-Techniques for imposing order on chaos (aka how to build a better sitemap)

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Confab 2018: Structuring Content to Empower Users

  1. 1. @ redsesame #confabcentral 1 Structuring Content Empower Users Lisa Maria Martin Confab Central | May 23, 2018 to
  2. 2. @ redsesame #confabcentral 2 was a garbage person. Walter Plecker
  3. 3. @ redsesame #confabcentral 3
  4. 4. @ redsesame #confabcentral 4 structural choice. This was a
  5. 5. @ redsesame #confabcentral 5 Structure changes the way information is: • Found • Perceived • Used
  6. 6. @ redsesame #confabcentral 6 The creative organization of information creates new information. Richard Saul Wurman •“
  7. 7. @ redsesame #confabcentral 7 The creative organization of information creates new information. Richard Saul Wurman •“ erases
  8. 8. @ redsesame #confabcentral 8 Well-structured content: • Enhances access • Creates consistency • Builds trust • Enables decision-making
  9. 9. @ redsesame #confabcentral 9 people? How do we empower
  10. 10. @ redsesame #confabcentral 10 organization. Frameworks for
  11. 11. @ redsesame #confabcentral 11
  12. 12. @ redsesame #confabcentral 12 While information may be infinite, the ways of structuring it are not. Richard Saul Wurman •“
  13. 13. @ redsesame #confabcentral 13 The LATCH theory: • Location • Alphabet • Time • Category • Hierarchy
  14. 14. @ redsesame #confabcentral 14 Location • Subway systems • Building maps • Butcher cut diagrams
  15. 15. @ redsesame #confabcentral 15
  16. 16. @ redsesame #confabcentral 16 Alphabet • Dictionaries • Indexes • Address books
  17. 17. @ redsesame #confabcentral 17
  18. 18. @ redsesame #confabcentral 18 Time • Calendars • Event schedules • Email inboxes
  19. 19. @ redsesame #confabcentral 19
  20. 20. @ redsesame #confabcentral 20
  21. 21. @ redsesame #confabcentral 21 Category • Grocery stores • Pinterest boards • Product lists
  22. 22. @ redsesame #confabcentral 22
  23. 23. @ redsesame #confabcentral 23 Hierarchy • “Most Popular” • Leaderboards • Search filters
  24. 24. @ redsesame #confabcentral 24
  25. 25. @ redsesame #confabcentral 25 The LATCH theory: • Location • Alphabet • Time • Category • Hierarchy
  26. 26. @ redsesame #confabcentral 26 categorization. Principles of
  27. 27. @ redsesame #confabcentral 27 like with like. Group
  28. 28. @ redsesame #confabcentral 28 Categories are shaped by: • User needs • Business goals • Current state • Future state
  29. 29. @ redsesame #confabcentral 29 User needs • Who is on the site? • What do they need to accomplish? • What are their primary actions?
  30. 30. @ redsesame #confabcentral 30 We believe that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. “
  31. 31. @ redsesame #confabcentral 31 Business goals • What does the business need to accomplish? • What story is it trying to tell? • Why are you doing this work?
  32. 32. @ redsesame #confabcentral 32
  33. 33. @ redsesame #confabcentral 33 Current state • What did you learn in the audit? • What content is currently available? • How deep is the available content? How broad?
  34. 34. @ redsesame #confabcentral 34
  35. 35. @ redsesame #confabcentral 35
  36. 36. @ redsesame #confabcentral 36
  37. 37. @ redsesame #confabcentral 37 Future state • What are your content goals? • What does your strategy say? • What resources will you have to support content creation and maintenance?
  38. 38. @ redsesame #confabcentral 38
  39. 39. @ redsesame #confabcentral 39
  40. 40. @ redsesame #confabcentral 40
  41. 41. @ redsesame #confabcentral 41 every level. Empowerment at
  42. 42. @ redsesame #confabcentral 42 Site structure • Does your navigation reflect your strategy? • Are your categories inclusive? • Can users tell what content is available? • Can they tell where they are in the system?
  43. 43. @ redsesame #confabcentral 43
  44. 44. @ redsesame #confabcentral 44
  45. 45. @ redsesame #confabcentral 45
  46. 46. @ redsesame #confabcentral 46 Page structure • Does the visual hierarchy match the information hierarchy? • Do users know how they got here? • Are there clear connections between content? • Are there clear calls to action?
  47. 47. @ redsesame #confabcentral 47
  48. 48. @ redsesame #confabcentral 48
  49. 49. @ redsesame #confabcentral 49 Text structure • Are there hierarchical headings (with tags)? • Is the content accessible? • Does the text use plain, appropriate language? • Is the content chunked, with breaks and white space?
  50. 50. @ redsesame #confabcentral 50
  51. 51. @ redsesame #confabcentral 51
  52. 52. @ redsesame #confabcentral 52 Ethical considerations • Are your concepts and language inclusive? • Have you considered the ways in which things might go horribly wrong? • Are you respecting users’ time and agency?
  53. 53. @ redsesame #confabcentral 53
  54. 54. @ redsesame #confabcentral 54
  55. 55. @ redsesame #confabcentral 55
  56. 56. @ redsesame #confabcentral 56 intent. Structure with
  57. 57. @ redsesame #confabcentral 57 Don’t get distracted by deadlines and feature requests. Think about the consequences of what you’re building. Caleb Thompson •“
  58. 58. @ redsesame #confabcentral 58 changes lives. Structure
  59. 59. @ redsesame #confabcentral 59 for the better. Change them
  60. 60. @ redsesame #confabcentral 60 Thank you. Confab Central | May 23, 2018 Lisa Maria Martin @redsesame | lisa.maria.martin@gmail.com thefutureislikepie.com
  61. 61. @ redsesame #confabcentral 61 Credits • Cover photo by Anders Jilden on unsplash.com • Walter Plecker on Encyclopedia Virginia https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Plecker_Walter_Ashby_1861-1947 • Boardthing.com • “Don’t Get Distracted” by Caleb Thompson https://www.calebthompson.io/talks/dont-get-distracted/ • Thank you to Happy Cog, the Posse Foundation, and Gettysburg College

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  • JenniferTweedie

    May. 25, 2018
  • ShannonDecastro1

    May. 30, 2018
  • annehaines

    Jun. 5, 2018
  • JamiePark6

    Jun. 20, 2018
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    Sep. 8, 2019
  • RubenPhilip

    Jul. 15, 2020

The way you organize your web content changes the way users can find it, understand it, and act on it. Your content may already be organized logically (well done, you!), but what if it could do more? What if the structure itself could make your content more meaningful, more sustainable, and more powerful in helping users reach their goals? This talk discusses how making small (but strategic) changes to the way you organize your content can empower your users. We’ll look at real-world examples of how categories, hierarchies, and labels impact information literacy, and you’ll walk away knowing: -Key principles for organizing information -Methods for applying those principles to the web -Techniques for imposing order on chaos (aka how to build a better sitemap)

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