Try a chronological structure
Work on a client’s new website has me thinking about navigational structure.
Whether you’re organizing a website or a magazine article, a museum exhibit or your family’s letters and memorabilia, there are only five ways to structure information. Richard Saul Wurman, author of Information Architects, uses the acronym LATCH to define them:
For your website’s structure to work, each navigational component should fit one of these approaches.
Let’s pause and ponder that for a minute too.
Years ago, one of my colleagues came up with a great idea for a newsletter for pregnant women based on chronological structure: Distribution would be based on subscribers’ due dates.
Each month, subscribers would get an issue telling them what to expect and do during that month of their own pregnancy. Best of all, as publisher, you’d produce just nine issues of the newsletter, cycling subscribers through the issues instead of issues through subscribers.
Now Parenting.com is going my colleague one better with its week-by-week Pregnancy Planner and daily Babygram e-zine, both tied to exactly what’s going on with your body or fetus based on your due date.
Of course, Parenting.com’s entire website is organized chronologically: fertility, pregnancy, baby, toddler, child, mom. (If I were organizing this site, I’d put recipes, activities, gear and community — four categorical buttons — into a separate nav bar, perhaps on the right side of the page. Because some of these things just don’t belong.)
Does your organization’s business suggest a chronological structure? If so, consider basing your navigation on time.
And if you’re organizing chronologically, why not make your piece a timeline?
Caveat: Make sure you’re not organizing by time when your readers are thinking in categories. Most blog archives are organized chronologically. Are your visitors more interested in your content on, say, organizing information, or do they really want to know what you were thinking on Feb. 23, 2010? If the former, you might want to consider a separate categorical index for your postings.