We know that humans have limited talent for seeing patterns in large data sets. Normally, we can cope with approximately 5-9 items if we have to exclude something as we do when navigating a website.
When working as an editor publishing data on a corporate website we have similar limitations. At PlenumX it is our experience that editors eventually lose their comprehensive view of the structure over a longer period of time – typically 2-3 years – and that information ends up in silos dictated by either the internal organization or the governance of the Content Management System.
Why corporate websites are repeatedly being ‘restructured’
The editor’s lack of overview will result in the sanding up of the website Information Architecture and an inevitable fallback to silos. This fallback to internal naming and structuring of content is the main reason why we so often see that corporate websites are repeatedly being ‘restructured’, typically in three-year life cycles.
»We have to stop trying to control and dictate the structure and relations of our content. It is a battle we will never win.«
After three years, the structure has experienced the budding of many new content silos due to changes in, for example, business or marketing strategies, company focus, user journeys or similar content changes that have had to be absorbed by the static structure. The easiest way to do this is by defaulting back to the corporate self-image of how things add up – which hardly ever aligns with stakeholder views.
Stop dictating the structure – we will never win
We need to break down these information silos and change the paradigm of how companies organize and structure content on corporate websites. Today, we have well-documented experience in new methods of building more durable structures that are much better at keeping, preserving, and presenting our valuable content.
© PlenumX, MONO-structure – We cannot determine the structural principle. What are the rules of placing content?
Despite the introduction of new structure paradigms we still see one case after the other of corporate communication departments unproductively trying to maintain a comprehensive view and staying in control of their content across multiple platforms, editors, departments, and countries.
We have to stop trying to control and dictate the structure and relations of our content. It is a battle we will never win.
New paradigm for content structures – a poly-hierarchy
While the human brain fails to take a comprehensive view of large data sets, the computer excels. Computers are extremely good at seeing patterns. So instead of dictating the computer how to structure our content we should teach the computer ‘an idea’ of the content.
Back in the days when XML was introduced we did exactly the same thing by separating the formatting from the content and focusing on what the content was – not if it was bold, italics, or underlined. Now we should do the same with our content and separate the structure from the content.
At PlenumX we call this a poly-hierarchy – here all content is treated as nodes and connected in a large content-web by building indexes and adding tags.
Computers see the patterns in our content
When tagging and indexing content we teach the computer – in this case the Web Content Management System – the content, and we can leave it to the computers to find patterns and organize the content for us.
© PlenumX, New IA paradigm where different Page elements are pulling content from the Content item bucket.
All content will then be detached from its static silo and placed in a large ‘bucket’ along with all other content we have. From there the content will be sought and pulled up and presented for the end-users based on the editors’ manually built page structure (IA) and configuration of tags on each navigational page or page element.
All content will then be detached from its static silo and placed in a large ‘bucket’ along with all other content we have. From there the content will be sought and pulled up and presented to the end-users based on the editor’s manually-built page structure (IA) and configuration of tags on each navigational page or page element.
The best of two worlds
With this approach we combine the best of two worlds when using a mono-structure – which is the best known structural principle – and a poly-structure based on an engine recognizing patterns across the vast amount of information.
By removing the structural presentation from content we make it easy for editors to publish new content. Editors can therefore spend more time focusing on producing good content. The system will secure the presentation of content and make sure it is relevant at the users’ current stage of their Customer Journey and let them navigate by an exploration behavior adapting their horizon of relevance.
In a poly-structure content can be displayed using several tags and in different contexts. Furthermore, a poly-structure will create a user- and editor-friendly website that facilitates easy publishing and access to information based on the user’s challenges (user centered) and facilitate exposure of relevant content across the company’s entire digital ecosystem.