One skill of a professional web designer: Piercing information clutter and showing visitors your best content with findability.
It’s no secret that we’re bombarded with information. The internet is the epitome of information flooding. Take for example a default WordPress install. You have one post. You can get to it via the linked title, the date archive link, the category link, the tag link, the comment link or searching for it.
That’s at least six different ways to get to one place; and the clutter is magnified even more when you create additional posts.
Think About Usability
Create too many paths and your site turns into a maze.
There is a strong pull to include every possible hyper-route — to make sure every potential action is covered so it’s available in case it’s needed.
It’s a tempting thought, what if someone wants to see what I wrote about this subject? So the category links are included. What about quick topic browsing? The tags go in there. I want people to see how long I’ve been blogging. Now there are thirty monthly archive links.
And on and on.
However, if you make everything findable then nothing is.
Here are a few things to consider:
- When was the last time you went to a site and arbitrarily clicked on a category link?
- How often do you read through a tag cloud?
- When did you last click a link on someone’s blog that read August 2007, or March 2006?
Now, on the contrary, when was the last time you went to a site and followed a link that stood out from the content around it? Usually a designer (or site owner) placed it there and made it stand out for a reason: They want people to find it.
Help people find your best content that they don’t yet know about.
Everyone knows how to get to that one post you wrote in June of last year, don’t help people find that, they already know how. Help people find that great article you wrote on typography, or that popular WordPress theme you created. Don’t assume visitors will find your best content, lead them to it.
- On clutter: http://www.bigcontrarian.com/2008/06/27/debris/
- On findability: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/findabilityorphan