Improving Your Online Information Structure

inverted pyramidMost users come to your online presence to get information about your brand.  Whether you are selling products, services or just yourself, it is important that the content you provide to users is simple and straight to the point, but also provides them with the right information.

When we work with clients on their content strategy for copyediting blog posts and website pages, we use a method that originates from the journalism world called the inverted pyramid, where information is structured by content priorities.  When you read an article in a newspaper, you’ll notice that the most important information that the reader needs is in the first paragraph – who, what, where, how and why. The second part provides important details that support what is in first paragraph.  Finally, the last part provides more general, background information.

This structure was created to give readers the important details of the news story upfront and give them guidance through the rest of the story with additional information.  This writing method is also becoming more common in online writing as most users don’t always read a blog post or a webpage in its entirety, but rather skim through it for the things that they are interesting in reading.  Online readers also decide if it is worth their time to continue reading the whole post or page based on the information in the first paragraph.  

Other things to use to improve your structure:

  • Bullets: Using bullets makes your content easier to read.  As mentioned before, since readers mostly skim through your content, they will get tidbits that are both informational and simple.
  • Headings: If you are writing longer pieces online, using headings to separate specific information can also make skimming by readers easier.  Don’t use more than three heading sizes in one post or page.
  • Less is more: Keep your content short and to the point, even in the lower tiers of your pyramid.  If you don’t need it in your content to make the point or add value, then you really don’t need it.
  • Graphics: If you are using graphics along with your online content, make you are using it to further explain your content and not just for decoration.  
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