Usability Guidelines: Content Organization

August 1, 2017

Every grocery store is divided into sections and aisles. They want to make it as easy as possible for their shoppers (users) to find what they need, and that should also be the goal of every website or application.

A clear system or pattern of content organization allows for easy consumption of information by the user. Visual design and usability tweaks cannot overcome poorly organized content.

Content organzation comes down to one basic activity: content chunking.

Chunking is a strategy aimed at improving information retention among users. It's much easier to remember theses chunks as chunks rather than trying to retain all the information inside the chunk or in a long length of text.

There are a few different approaches used in chunking:

Inventory
The first steps in organizing anything is to gather all of the items in question. Every bit of content for the website, application, etc., needs to be listed. Has anything been forgotten? Is there anything new to add? Answers to these questions may become more apparent as the chunking continues.
Grouping
From the inventory, grouping can begin. The process is a game of topics and categories. Every item has a weaker or stronger relationship to the items in its surroundings. How do they relate? Do some items belong in more than one group?
Chunking
With some basic groups formed, its now time to take a look at what's in these groups. How much content does each one of these items represent? Can it be chunked down further? Can any long lengths of text be split up or turned into bullet points?
Sequencing
And while all this chunking is happening, it's important to recognize sequences in the content. Is any of this content part of a step-by-step process? Could it or should it be? Or can an established sequence be improved?

Content chunking is an action that will help your users. It gives them the chance to consume your content, rather than causing them strain in trying to find and process the information you're sharing.