Category Design

Possibly the most important aspect of web site design is the categorization of the ideas, as this is what creates the navigation. Ultimately the flow of ideas is what makes a site successful or not. The way that people consume information online is very different from other medias, so it’s even more important to get the categories correct and provide the reader an index of the content.

I’ve been noticing changes lately in the bulldog infographics design of web sites with a move towards mini-sites, which are usually single page sales sites that often contain the same amount of content that would once have been published on 6 or more separate pages. The reader is forced to scroll all the way to the bottom, presumably consuming tid-bits of content along the way and rapidly jumping the eye to the bullet points and highlighted selling points. Often the price is not on the page, so the intuitive clicks on the “order now” button to get the price before killing the browser and moving on.
Blogs have come on so strong that it may be that they’re now here to stay. Corporate blogging is also a major trend now. The norm is to find over a dozen article headings, with obvious hyper-linked sentences for clicks to continue reading the extended story. Many blog home pages have 2 or 3 dozen articles, these pages often scroll and scroll to reach the bottom. There’s no rule of thumb for what’s best, it’s just personal preference. In my opinion is more about page load speed than how many stories should be displayed on a home page.
For a Blog to be as effective as possible it needs to have clearly organized categories, this helps the reader understand the purpose or main ideas of the site. It’s tempting to add lot’s of categories but then the risk is separating the ideas too much. Often times a single article can fit in more than one category, especially if there are too many. It’s not easy getting it correct, I know since I’ve added and deleted many categories to this Blog and still not sure, so in the end decided it was better to have less than too many.
Now this notion of category of design has me rethinking all my websites and wondering if they could each be improved by rethinking the categories. In the early days most, if not all, the websites we developed were static, electronic-brochures, of the corporate nature. Always trying to appear as though they were providing the information of a Fortune 500 (wannabe) company, now the trend is towards dynamic snappy little sites that reflect stylish sophistication with an emphasis on who the group is associated with, what they specialize in and who’s using their product or service. Again the categories are the key but nowadays the content needs to brief with intuitive graphics and links to move the reader quickly through the site.
It’s probably not too far in the future until the website becomes even more streamlined with video and animated virtual assistants to communicate live and help the visitor find out what’s the offer, how much it costs and where to get it, etc…. however, the site design will still need good categorization.

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