Content Architecture: Why it Matters

When I tell people my job role at Karman, I’m occasionally met with puzzled faces.

Is a “Content Designer” just a fancy title for a content creator or a copywriter, people ask… Not quite. 

Central to my role is the creation of content. Formulating campaigns for clients, creating blogs and video, editing podcasts and writing website copy. 

But it’s also a role that requires me to think more deeply about the structure and organisation of content. 

That’s what we call content architecture. 

It’s a fairly niche term in the digital industry, but one of increasing importance. Although it may sound fancy, it’s a relatively simple concept that can reap huge rewards for your content efforts. 

As I’ve already touched on, content architecture refers to the organisation, structure, and presentation of content on a website. It focuses on how content is planned, categorised, labelled, and presented to users. The goal of content architecture is to ensure that information is easily findable, accessible, and understandable to the target audience and group personas. 

In this blog, we’ll explore why content architecture matters. 

How should a content designer think about content architecture? How does content architecture differentiate itself from information architecture and how can your business ensure best practice when it comes to content architecture? 

Table of contents 

  1. Information architecture vs content architecture 
  2. The power of content architecture  
  3. An effective content architecture plan for your business 
  4. Future-proof your media with content architecture

 

Learn more about content architecture

Information architecture vs content architecture 

Content and information architecture are closely related, and using them interchangeably is an easy mistake to make, but a mistake nonetheless. 

Information architecture (5)As we’ve already touched on briefly, content architecture primarily deals with the organisation, categorisation, and presentation of content; aiming to ensure its accessibility and understandability for the target audience. 

It encompasses aspects such as content hierarchy, taxonomy, and presentation; all aimed at optimising the delivery of information to users.

Information architecture takes a broader perspective; focusing on the overall structure and organisation of information on your website. It encompasses site structure, navigation, user flows, and search functionality all aimed at facilitating effective information retrieval and seamless user navigation.

It’s common for information architecture to overlap with content architecture, during a web build project for example, but the two can sit on their own.  

While content architecture is concerned with individual content elements and their presentation, information architecture considers the holistic arrangement and relationships between information pieces, like primary and secondary web pages, for instance. 

The power of content architecture

The benefits of content architecture can’t be understated. 

In a world filled with data and information, you're vying for your audience’s attention against millions at any given moment. As a result, your audience expects a seamless journey through your site when viewing web content. 

They expect content to be clustered together by topics, accessible and easy to consume and they want intuitive, considered page designs. By providing a clear process, content architecture ensures this for the user. 

This organisation can also have positive effects internally. By establishing clear label guidelines and a meticulous approach to metadata, which includes page descriptions and author tags, your team will enjoy far better content governance than before; helping your business achieve greater consistency and clarity with their content campaigns.

Well organised content also has a much higher chance of performing well, when ranking for keywords on SERPs. 

Google has slowly been increasing the importance they place on well structured and well organised topics for years now.

Topic clusters, usually in the form of pillar pages that lead to spin-off related content, is a great way to rank, and organising your topic clusters falls under content architecture. 

The steps necessary for content architecture success 

So you’re creating a new content strategy… You’ve researched and interviewed the audience, know your objectives and goals and nailed your campaign topics.

What next? 

Time to start thinking about content architecture. It can be an overwhelming topic to consider, but with a defined process in place it will set you up for success. 

Remember, whilst awareness is on the rise, content architecture is still a relatively niche topic, it could be the difference between you and your competitor’s site.  

Here’s a simple 8-step content architecture guide to get you started:

Identify content categories and subcategories: Identify the main categories that will encompass your content. Then, further break down each category into logical subcategories. This hierarchical structure will help organise your content effectively. 

We find visual mapping tools, like Miro or Lucidchart helpful here, because they allow us to visualise our content. 

Create a content inventory: Conduct a comprehensive content inventory to identify all existing content assets. Document each asset and its associated metadata, such as title, URL, category, tags, and description. 

A spreadsheet is always a great place to start, owing to the meticulous nature of this step. 

Develop a content taxonomy: Define a set of standardised labels, tags, or keywords that accurately describe the topics, themes, and attributes of your content.

Establish labelling guidelines: Create clear and consistent labelling guidelines to ensure accurate and uniform application of labels. Define the purpose and criteria for each label, providing examples and instructions to assist content creators.

Implement metadata tagging: Apply relevant metadata tags to each content asset based on the established content taxonomy. Tags should reflect the content's subject, format, target audience, and any other pertinent attributes.

Organise your content structure: Design and implement a logical structure for organising your content. Determine the relationships between categories, subcategories, and content assets; ensuring easy navigation and discoverability for users.
A site map is a good place to start here; visually demonstrating how each piece of content links through to more principal webpages, for example. Again, a mapping tool like Miro or Lucidchart is a great place to carry out this step. 

Implement a content management system (CMS): Utilise a robust content management system to facilitate the organisation, labelling, and retrieval of content.

The right CMS, like HubSpot, will provide features like categorisation, tagging, search functionality, and metadata management; making everyone’s life easier. 

Build your content out and execute your content architecture plan: Last but certainly not least, ensure your content architecture plan is executed.

 Use a central document or wiki to help your employees easily find new guidelines. GettyImages-1403226464

Future-proof your media with content architecture

As we move into an era where the content we consume is shaped by AI, the architecture of our content, we believe, is going to increase in importance, both for SERP rank and user engagement. 

Now’s the time to think meticulously about how you organise, structure and execute your content campaigns, and content architecture is a great place to start. 

For more information on content at Karman, get in touch with our team today.

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