It’s a new year, and one of your resolutions might be keeping a more minimalist lifestyle. A few years ago, I read Marie Kondo’s book about the benefits and practice of keeping things tidy. And it planted a seed in my mind about how this applies to content. And in particular, your content strategy. How can we apply the same techniques that result in a well-organized drawers and closets to well-organized content hierarchy and navigation? How can they guide your next content audit?
Does it bring you joy?
One of the most difficult parts of a content audit is removing content. There are huge benefits to having high standards for including content in a project. Marie Kondo says that we should hold objects in our hands and consider if they bring us joy before deciding to keep them. Try doing a content audit based on whether content brings joy to your users. Is this content that they absolutely need? And does it fulfill the goals of your organization? If so, then it probably fits the goal.
Removing clutter makes the elements that remain more valuable/meaningful. This is true of UX as well. Mobile interfaces need to be decluttered from extra calls to action, extra navigation, and non-essential content that build up on landing pages. Sometimes, especially when there is more than one stakeholder, we get excited and start adding mixed messaging and extra visual elements to a single page, overwhelming the user. Later on, this becomes difficult to untangle as we try and figure out what to cut.
It’s definitely easier to declutter as you go. Just like you don’t want to wait until you move house to clean out your closets, don’t wait for your next site migration to clean out the clutter from your landing pages.
Card Sorting Your Closet
I cleaned out my closet a couple weeks ago and it reminded me of doing a physical card sort at a UX workshop. We use card sorts to group together content that is related. In a card sort, we make piles of cards or sticky notes. Marie Kondo says that we should not just sort one closet at a time, but actually take all our possessions and sort them at the same time, because scarfs in the front-hall closet and scarfs in your bedroom probably belong together. Similarly, we can benefit from sorting our content as a whole, instead of looking at each content area separately.
In the digital space, we can link to content from different places, so we can cheat a bit here. But there are lots of advantages of having a clear hierarchy so we know where content actually belongs. Practice your sorting skills when you clean out your closet, they’ll come in handy the next time you re-organize your IA.
Less is more
I love travelling because deciding what you’re going to wear is easy: you only have the clothes in your suitcase. Similarly, the fewer options you give users, the easier it will be for them to decide where to click. And keeping a smaller load of content up-to-date is always easier, especially when you start adding languages and personalization into the mix.
By having a more minimalist information architecture, you can take more time curating and editing the content and features that you need to keep. Especially when content goes beyond text, and can end up with a lot of audio, video, and images. Keeping these elements up-to-date has a high cost, so reducing the quantity will likely increase the quality.