Content Architecture 101

Content is EVERYWHERE. From advertisements to billboards to papers, there is constantly an overwhelming amount of information. Because of this information overload, most people subconsciously observe what stands out the most. Your utility website holds lots of important information. To ensure your website visitors are not missing anything crucial, information architecture can greatly help your utility website.

What is Content Hierarchy?

Content hierarchy refers to the content on your website, and how well that content is organized and presented. It is a strategic arrangement of information, emphasizing the most important information. This content usually appears with the important content at the top of a page and less important information toward the bottom.

When reflecting on your content hierarchy, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is the information presented to the site visitor?
  2. Is the information helping website visitors find what they are looking for?

These questions focus on the online experience and needs of your target audience. Effective content hierarchy is a key aspect in the website strategy process—helping your website meet your visitors’ needs.

Why is Content Hierarchy Important?

You have goals for your website. It may be to share information or offer your utility services. Similarly, your website visitors also have goals. They are often coming to your website to pay a bill, start or stop a service, or get contact information.

Content hierarchy helps align your goals with your visitor’s goals. Consider the wide range of technical abilities, goals, and mindsets of your website visitors. To determine which information to prioritize, you must better understand your audience. For example:

A visitor might be on the road and looking for directions to your location. Does your website offer easy mobile access to your location?

Take a look at Modern Water Electric Water Company’s footer with directions to their main office. The hyperlink automatically opens up Google Maps, making it easy to get directions.

A visitor might be looking for contact information. A phone number above the global navigation may be helpful.

Take a look at Graham County Electric Cooperative’s “Contact Us” hyperlink. See just how easy it is to reach their phone number, address, and office hours in a central location.

A visitor might want to pay their bill. Make sure that bill pay options are just one click away.

Take a look at Union Rural Electric’s website with easy access to bill payment.

Once you know and understand what your website visitors need, organize your website to align with the goals of both your organization and visitors. As a result, a well-organized website will reflect your commitment to your customers.

Best Practices for Information Architecture Design

Clear Menus & Navigation

Menus indicate a site’s hierarchy. It gives website visitors shortcuts to frequently- accessed pages. A visitor may start on a homepage and go deeper through a series of menu items to access a specific page they are looking for. If the menu makes sense, the process should be simple. If not, the page might not be found.

Central Lincoln PUD in Newport, Oregon utilizes a series of megamenus on their employee intranet website.

Keep Visitors Within 1-2 Clicks

Nobody wants to wade through unwanted information, posts, or instructions before finding what they’re looking for. They want to complete their task in the most efficient way. Don’t let your website visitors search far and wide for the content they need. Make sure your visitor can accomplish their goal within 1-2 clicks.

Map it Out

Site maps are easy ways to visually depict how different content relate to one another. Start off with a handful of flashcards. Write each content set or page on a flash card and sort them into logical groups. This is a great way to get your team involved in an interactive workshop.

The Powerful web team collaborates on web content and building a global navigation menu and content structure built for your site visitor.

The outcome of this workshop leads to clear insight on how to structure and design pages around your content.

Prioritize Your Purpose

Content hierarchy is an integral aspect of a website design process. It has the power to make or break a site. In order to achieve your goals and help visitors achieve theirs, it is crucial to create a logical structure.

Does your utility website utilize effective content hierarchy? Powerful is here to help your organization prioritize purposeful content.