Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating content priority hierarchies, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- We know who the end users are and we know what content will be displayed on the site. The next step is to organize that content based on priority hierarchies. There are two levels of hierarchies. Site-wide hierarchies and individual-view hierarchies. So let's take a closer look. Site-wide hierarchies have to do with the overall structure of the site. If the visitor lands on the site, what content should she see first? Here we're not talking about the header or menu or sidebar, but rather what page view she should see.
The front page is a likely top tier candidate. Index pages are other likely candidates for the top tier spots. Individual blog posts and recipes will likely live on the second tier. They may be linked to and landed on individually, but their primary purpose is to drive the visitor up to the top tier and then onward to the services where the goals of the site owner are being met. Legal pages and other static information about the company and its employees live on the third tier.
These pages are important, yes, but only for a visitor who is already interested and wants to learn more about the company. These pages and their content are unlikely to provide direct value for the visitor or site owner and are unlikely to play a deciding role when a purchase or acquisition is considered. For all their perceived importance, they are in reality trivial and peripheral to the purpose of the site. Mapping out the site-wide hierarchies is usually a quick and straight forward process and can easily be combined with the information architecture process.
Individual-view hierarchies are different. Here we isolate each page, the homepage, index pages, individual recipe and blog pages, static pages, et cetera, and identify what priority order the contents on that page should have. What is the most important piece of information the visitor should see? What is second most important and the third? To facilitate this process, it can be a good idea to draw out each content block on a whiteboard, piece of paper or other display device and then stack them in the priority order from top to bottom.
What you're looking for here is a logical structure for the different assets that go on the page. The end goal is to have a page that when read from top to bottom, provides an understandable content hierarchy and provides the visitor with the information she came for while communicating the essential information the site owner wants to promote. This process is best done in collaboration with the site owner and will benefit greatly from the inclusion of as many stakeholders and end users as possible.
If no end users are available, someone should be assigned to play the role of the different user personas created earlier in the process. Once content priority hierarchies have been created for both the site as a whole and each of the different content views, these documents become templates for all future developments and design work. As you'll see later in the course, using these hierarchies as templates for the content structure of the site and its views, will have benefits that go beyond merely placing the most important message at the top for all to see.
They'll also make the site easier to design, build and maintain.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users