We define content broadly as “the stuff in your web site.” This may include documents, data, applications, e-services, images, audio and video files, personal web pages, archived email messages, and more. And we include future stuff as well as present stuff.
Users need to be able to find content before they can use it—findability precedes usability. And if you want to create findable objects, you must spend some time studying those objects. You’ll need to identify what distinguishes one object from another, and how document structure and metadata influence findability. You’ll want to balance this bottom-up research with a top-down look at the site’s existing information architecture.
Many projects involve redesigning existing web sites rather than creating new ones. In such cases, you’re granted the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of those who came before you. Unfortunately, this opportunity is often missed because of people’s propensity to focus on faults and their desire to start with a clean slate. We regularly hear our clients trashing their own web sites, explaining that the current site is a disaster and we shouldn’t waste our time looking at it. This is a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Whenever possible, try to learn from the existing site and identify what’s worth keeping. One way to jump-start this process is to conduct a heuristic evaluation.
A heuristic evaluation is an expert critique that tests a web ...