Organize content strategically
Well-organized content helps readers find what they’re looking for.
Put content first that is most important or affects the most people, then arrange the rest in descending order. Keep it in digestible chunks.
Why this is important
Putting the most important information first makes it more likely you will meet people’s needs. This is because when people read online, most of the time they’re actually scanning. They could easily miss information in traditionally-written content.
Dense content can discourage people from even attempting to read it. When you break up information into chunks, people can more easily find and understand it.
How to do this in your writing
Arrange what your readers are looking for so they’re likely to see it.
- Order content on your page like a funnel.
- Begin with the content that is most important or affects the most people.
- Make the next most important or applicable content the next section.
- Repeat until you get to your last section of content. This should be the content that applies to the fewest number of people (like specific groups).
- Headings are easy for readers to scan. Make your headings useful so people understand what’s in that section.
- Use headings in descending order. Do not skip a level.
- Use three levels of headings (H2, H3, and H4). If you find yourself using H5 or H6 headings, your organization may be too complex. Break up the content into multiple pages.
- Only use one H1 per page for the title of the page.
- Break up large blocks of content into smaller chunks.
- Small paragraphs are easier to read. They also signal when a new topic begins.
- Empty space between paragraphs gives readers little breaks that make the content easier to read.
- The Nielsen Norman Group has a good guide on how to chunk content.
- Bullet points and lists add visual variety to pages and are easy to scan.
- Use a numbered list for processes and steps that occur in an order.
- Limit how much content is on a single page or screen. Too much information can overwhelm readers.
- It’s OK to have several short, focused pages instead of one large page that covers everything.
Accordions are expandable sections. They hide information unless someone opens them. This requires an extra click or tap, which means readers have to do extra work to get this information. People cannot scan for information that’s in an accordion.
Only use accordions when:
- A small group of people needs the information
- People only need certain information (like selecting one of several license types)
- Providing notes or disclaimers
Do not use accordions:
- If more than a third of your readers need the information in the accordion
- To make a page look shorter
Use frequently asked questions (FAQs) sparingly. Most of the time they are not actually frequently asked, but are a convention content writers default to.
FAQs are hard for people to read, especially when there are a lot of them on one page. They also often duplicate content that’s already on your site. And by putting the content in the form of a question and answer, you’re at least doubling the text someone has to read to get the information.
Use the same rules for accordions for FAQs. If more than a third of readers need the information, put it in your body content.