How to organise content on your website (+ an example)

Apr 18, 2023
Coco Chanel once said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” She was probably talking about a pair of earrings or a scarf, but this often applies to a website home page too. Look at your home page. Is there one thing you can take off?

When you have a lot of content, it overwhelms site visitors. Often, very little of that content is immediately relevant to your entire audience. Here are 4 steps to reorganise your content to make it easy to access.


Step 1: Determine the primary goal of your website

Websites cost money and time to develop, host, and maintain, so there has to be a reason why you have a website, and some kind of goal you want to achieve with it.

What is that goal?

Some common website goals are:

  • Establish credibility
  • Distribute information
  • Inspire action
  • Sell something

You may feel like your website has many goals, but really try to narrow it down to just one primary goal. This may take some time and some brainpower, and even some conversations or stream-of-consciousness writing if you get stuck. Often, what seems like a long list of goals can be condensed into just one primary goal, with some secondary goals that all serve the main goal.

If you’ve already got a website and you want to reorganise the content, look at your analytics to see how your audience interacts with your website. This may tell you what function your website already performs, and then you can decide whether you want to optimise your content for that, or if you want to guide your audience to change the way they interact with your website to help you achieve your goal.


Step 2: Prioritise the content

Now, get an idea of what you have. Make a list of content categories, such as blog posts, case studies, service descriptions, product listings, etc. You can also add content that doesn’t exist yet, but that you would like to add to your site later.

Which content will help you achieve your website goal the best? And the next best? Prioritise your content in terms of your website goals. Be very strict, especially with the most important stuff.

As someone who spends every day thinking about what you do, you may be tempted to include more information than you need near the top of the list. However, if people want a certain piece of information, they will be willing to go through many layers to find it, as long as it’s easy for them to go through the journey to get there.


Step 3: Create the visitor journey

Now that you have an idea of what content you want to show your website visitors and in what order, it's time to arrange the content on your site, in layers.

Think about these layers in terms of a journey, in which you guide your website visitors towards your website's goal. Every single scroll, every single click, and every single word is an extra layer that your audience needs to peel back before they get to the thing you want them to get to. Every layer is an opportunity for them to get bored or confused or distracted.

The bare minimum goes on your home page, above the fold (the part your audience sees without having to scroll down). A large number of your website visitors won't even click past the home page, so make sure that they get the message immediately. Anything else that will complete or substantiate your message goes below the fold and on the other pages.

Within each page, ensure the most relevant content is above the fold and the rest is easy and intuitive to navigate. Really archival stuff can be hidden in a dropdown or a separate archive section. Remember that the people who want this information will be willing to click through the layers to find it, as long as they know where to click.

The general rule is to go from simple to complex. For example, you may want to include news articles on your home page to help establish credibility for your organisation, but including the entire article will overwhelm visitors, especially since most of them won't want to read every word. Instead, a headline, a date, and maybe an image will be enough to establish credibility, with a link to the full article for those visitors who want to read the whole thing.

Not all of your content even needs to be accessible on your website. You might have outdated research or resources that you want to keep for historical purposes, but you can make these available by request instead of having them directly on your site. That way, you can provide some context to the person who requested the item, and perhaps even start a valuable conversation with them about the content, and get their contact information to add to your mailing list.

There is seldom a reason to delete something. Instead, set it as private in case you need to make it visible on your site again, or you need to refer to it.


Step 4: Fill the gaps

Depending on how much content you started with, some gaps may have appeared as you have been reorganising it. You might need a snappier summary of your services for your home page, or a mission statement, or a new banner. Fill those gaps with new or repurposed content.

And that’s it! Your content has been organised in a way that serves the goals of the website.

However, a website is constantly evolving - you may need to revisit this process whenever you add new types of content, or if the primary goal of your website changes.


Example: Anti-poaching NPO

Imagine you need to organise content for the website of your NPO that fights rhino poaching. Let's go through the 4 steps.


Step 1: Determine the primary goal of your website

Your website will have various goals, such as:

  • Raising awareness about the endangered status of rhinos and the threat of poaching
  • Establishing credibility as an active and effective NPO
  • Inspiring action through donations and volunteering

While all three of these goals are valid, actions such as donations and volunteering make the most tangible difference to your fight against rhino poaching, so inspiring action would be your primary goal.

Raising awareness and establishing credibility are important secondary goals that serve this primary goal, as people are unlikely to take action unless they care about the issue and are certain their donations will be used effectively.


Step 2: Prioritise the content

As an organisation, you may already have the following content:

  • A mission statement
  • News articles featuring your NPO
  • Research papers about rhinos and poaching
  • Educational resources, including printable pamphlets and posters
  • Campaign slogans and calls to action (CTAs)

Of this content, the campaign slogans and CTAs are most likely to lead website visitors to take action, so they should appear in the upper layers of your site.

However, visitors will probably need to know a little bit more about your cause and organisation before they take action. Your mission statement, research papers, and news articles will help with that, but putting all of those in the upper layers will clutter your website and overwhelm your audience. Instead, pick the most compelling parts of these to showcase in the upper layers, such as the most recent news articles, the biggest events, and the most shocking statistics.

The full mission statement, news articles, research papers, and educational resources can be organised into their own sections and pages. Within these categories, there will be some content that better serves the primary goal of the website than others. For example, a recent research paper about the practices of poachers in the last year should take priority over a 10-year-old paper on rhino population statistics because it is more up-to-date.


Step 3: Create the visitor journey

Once the content has been prioritised, arrange it on your website in layers that guide your audience towards the primary goal.

The very first layer - above the fold on the home page - should contain a compelling campaign slogan and a CTA such as a "Donate" or "Volunteer" button that clicks through to a form. For the visitors who already know about your organisation and have already made the decision to take action, this is all they really need to guide them to take that action.

However, most of your audience won't be convinced yet. This is where the secondary goals (raising awareness and establishing credibility) come in. Below the fold, include a compelling message about the importance of fighting rhino poaching, such as statistics, photos, or a powerful quote from a prominent figure. Also include some proof that your NPO is legitimate and effective, e.g. statistics of how many anti-poaching units the NPO supports, or news stories highlighting the NPO’s positive impact. This may be enough to inspire action in some website visitors, so it's a good idea to include at least one more CTA somewhere on the home page.

Visitors that need even more convincing will want to see the mission statement and learn more about the cause by reading news articles, research findings, and educational resources. Make these content categories easy to find by including them in separate sections in the main menu, with short titles such as "Mission statement", "News", "Research" and "Resources".

Include the most relevant and recent content above the fold on each of these pages. On the pages that contain long-form content, such as the "News" or "Research" pages, put the most important or recent few articles at the top, and list the rest below. If you have a lot of articles, sort them by topic or year so that your audience can easily find what they're looking for. Sprinkle CTA buttons throughout the content, such as at the bottom of articles, and make sure there is a button always visible, such as in the top left corner, ready to be clicked the moment the website visitor decides to take action.

Not all your website visitors will ever fulfil the primary goal of your website and take action. Some of them will be students looking for a  research paper to cite for an assignment, some will be teachers who need resources to teach their primary school class about poaching, and some will be authors researching for a new novel. Regardless, organising content in this way also makes it easy for them to find what they need. They also serve your secondary goals by becoming more aware of the issue and seeing your organisation as more credible, which may eventually lead to action, or at the very least to more exposure for your NPO.


Step 4: Fill the gaps

During this process, you may have realised that there are some gaps. For example, maybe there is very little news coverage of your NPO's activities, so it would be a good idea to start creating your own news stories and blog posts about your NPO's triumphs. Fill in this gap by adding a blog section, where your NPO can produce its own content.

You may also find that although there are photos and news stories featuring the people who run the NPO, there is no information on who these people are and what they do. Because of this, the website may feel impersonal. To fill in this gap, create a page with photos of each of the team members, their roles, and perhaps a short bio. Showcasing the expertise, experience, and passion of your team also contributes to the overall credibility of your organisation.


Key takeaways

  • When organising your website content, make every decision with your website's primary goal in mind.
  • Every click is an opportunity for your audience to get distracted and leave, so make sure they get the message in as few clicks as possible.
  • If a website visitor wants to find something on your website, they will, as long as you make it easy to find.

If you'd like some help with your website content, or your website content is all ready but has nowhere to go, chat to us and we'll help you get your message online.

By Talya Beyers
Talya is our in-house wordsmith and content specialist, who likes to use fashion terminology to explain website things wherever she can.

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