Organising content

Information architecture (IA) website Boxes and Arrows has an interesting article, written by content strategist Rachel Lovinger. In it, she says that ‘content strategy is to copywriting as information architecture is to design’.

So, what is IA? According to the Information Architecture Institute, it’s:

…the art and science of organising and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability.

Good IA helps users to make sense of a website and its content. So what does content strategy do? According to the article, its main aim is:

…to use words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences.

Structuring a website

Lovinger goes on to discuss what content is and how a simple website might not need much IA or content strategy.

(All sites need some though, no matter how small – I’ve seen websites of only six pages that were hard to navigate around. No thought had been put into how the visitors were to get from page to page, so the navigation was poor and buttons were badly labelled.)

But as more information is added and a site grows in size, it needs to be structured and organised according to tried and tested principles. This is where an information architect comes in, who will work on documents such as a sitemap or wireframes for the site. They’ll decide on buttons and other visual cues, for example.

What about the content?

A content strategist can then ‘craft the labels that are used on the buttons and think about what sort of language best conveys the messages of the site…and will also work closely with the [information architect] to make sure that the organisation of the site makes sense and will be supported by the content that’s available’.

Lovinger talks about the importance of creating content that’s:

  • relevant to people
  • more useful to machines
  • produced more efficiently
  • comprehensive

I think it’s important for any web writer to have a basic understanding of the link between IA and content. However, you don’t have to be a ‘content strategist’ to keep these ideas in mind – they are basic considerations for creating useful and usable copy.

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