The Web Project Guide Podcast: Episode 10: Organize Your Content (w/ Lisa Maria Marquis)
August 16, 2022
It’s The Web Project Guide Podcast, and we made you a new episode.
A few months ago, I gave an internal “lunch and learn” presentation on a topic that is very personal to me — and, one that may have helped spur my entire career path.
I taught everyone how to organize a record collection.
From the age of 16 through to 20, I worked at Best Buy in Sioux Falls. While I was, in a way, responsible for keeping the video games section up to standards, the bulk of my time was spent in the music area, where I’d organize CDs and answer questions and help people find the perfect AC/DC album for their son’s birthday.
Organizing CDs —and, now, my record collection — required more than just a knowledge of the alphabet. It required understanding the concepts of music genres, how to manage albums with multiple artists (or no artist at all), and the natural assumptions of customers. Looking back, I realize it was my first ongoing information architecture project.
Funny enough, I still wish I could make a career out of organizing music. Instead, my career is partially about organizing websites. And that’s what we’re talking about this month with our friend — and author of Everyday Information Architecture — Lisa Maria Marquis.
How much information architecture does somebody actually need to know? Imagine you have a small, you’re a small team, you’re two people. You have somebody who’s kind of now in charge of content strategy and they’re in charge of content marketing and they also have to check analytics. What are the basics that they would need to know in order to actually be able to do their jobs in a way that makes sense?
That’s a good question and a complicated one, I think. Because I feel like there’s so many different things to think about, but not necessarily, you don’t need to be a trained information architect. You don’t need to be a practicing specialist, data scientist type brain to do good information architecture. Everyone can do good information architecture.
But there are things you need to know. I think it helps to have a brain that is good at understanding systems. So being able to think about the big picture, being able to think about this holistic view of your website, making sure you’re kind of looking at the whole thing in context, as well as looking at the experience users have with your brand. So not just on the website, obviously, as I said at the beginning, I’m only focusing on website content because that’s what I get hired to do, but I like to think of it in terms of that ecosystem of what a user engaging with your company or product or brand is going to understand about you as a whole.
So, even when they’re not on the website, what’s happening in customer service and what’s happening in print materials and what’s happening in the space in the world, if there is one for your product? Thinking about what they are bringing to the website in terms of all those other contexts and all those other experiences with your product.
So being able to look holistically at that system of the website and the brand, as well as understanding the system of the world generally, and the various factors that are weighing in on users and visitors coming to the site. So systems, being able to have that big picture perspective, and then also being able to drill down to the details of what is the content. What is literally the information that is on the site.
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