Content structure indicates what different pages the web service consists of and how the different pages are organised in the service. When the content structure is logical and clear, the user can find the content they are looking for easily and quickly. Content structure is also important for search engine discoverability.
Typically, web services consist of several pages arranged in a specific order. The purpose of this is to provide the user with the content they are looking for as smoothly as possible, which enables easy use of the service. In addition, a functional content structure directs the user towards the desired activity in the web service.
The amount of pages
The number of pages in the web service should be critically evaluated. The more pages there are, the more difficult it is to implement a clear and easy-to-understand content structure.
However, it is not a good idea to reduce the number of pages too much, because distinctly different topics should be covered on their own pages. This is a functioning solution for both web service usability and search engine discoverability. Search engines prefer pages that focus on a specific topic. For the user on the other hand, it is important that the content related to a specific topic is comprehensively presented on their own page.
The page levels
The content structure defines the page levels of the web service, i.e. the hierarchical relationships between the pages. The most important pages are the main pages and these pages have subpages at the next levels of the content structure.
The number of levels should usually be kept small. A good rule of thumb is that pages with more than three levels are used only in exceptional cases. Too deep a content structure makes the content of the web service difficult to understand and poor to use. The following is an example of our own web service, where you are now at the third level.
Level 1: main page (e.g. our expertise)
Level 2: Subpage (e.g. content)
Level 3: Subpage of subpage (e.g. content structure that is this page)
In the web service, the pages are placed in a menu, ie navigation, according to the content structure. Typically, the user navigates the service primarily through the menu, but the user can also be guided through the web service, for example, directly via links in the content.
It is recommended to implement the menu so that at least the second-level pages can be accessed directly by clicking on the menu, without having to visit the main-level page. This makes the web service more usable when the number of clicks required to access a particular page is lower. For example, the main navigation on our site will not take you to the page you are on while reading this. So, you have navigated to this page via an internal link on the site.
Content structure and search engines
Search engines recognise the content structure of a website and, based on the order of the pages, evaluate the main content of the web service. Because of this, the content structure is also important for search engine discoverability.
For example, Google may also display webpages in a search result, depending on the content structure. This makes it easier for users to click directly on a webpage from a search engine, and therefore to find the exact content they want.
Tips for designing the content structure
We help most of our customers with content structure design. Nevertheless, here are a few tips for designing your content structure:
- Design a content structure based on user needs
- The number of pages on the main level is preferably maximum 6-8
- Keep the number of menus and sublevels to a minimum
- Use as clear and unambiguous menu texts as possible
- Only cover one topic in the content of an individual page
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