Designing structure

Good structure makes it faster and easier for people to find what they want on your page. And it ensures they don’t miss what they’ve come for.

10 tips for web writers

  1. Accommodate users’ needs and tasks
    Structure information with users’ information needs and tasks in mind. What will make most sense to them? What will help them find what they need faster?
  2. Break content into meaningful chunks
    Make information manageable and easy on the eye and brain by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Group related chunks
    Bring related chunks of information together so users don’t overlook anything they need.
  4. Place information at the top
    Start with the most important information (on the page, in a paragraph, in a sentence, in list items). Get to the point quickly. Provide background later.
  5. Try the MADE formula
    Lead with the Main message, then the Action. Then provide the Detail and then Extra detail.
  6. Try the inverted pyramid
    Start with the conclusion, not the introduction. Make your key arguments or points and then provide the background.
  7. Try an informative summary
    If you cannot edit the content (for instance, if it’s a policy, report, or academic paper), write a summary to present the important information at the start.
  8. Use accordions with care
    Accordions can make content less visible and make users work harder. Avoid when users may need to read several sections of the content.
  9. Don’t rely on within-page links
    Anchors can confuse some users, and they’re hard to use on smaller, touch-based screens. Prioritise messages, edit ruthlessly, use meaningful headings. Within-page links should be a last resort.
  10. Split based on tasks and topics, not length
    Users do scroll, so don’t split pages based only on their length. Tasks and topics, and the needs of your users should be your guide.