Organize for Website Users

When you're thinking about how to organize information for clients, you've got to take off the comany organization hat. Your website is not an org chart.

Your organization is structured to function efficiently, serve your clients, and coordinate your staff. But clients coming to you could care less about the magic behind the scenes.

I’ll often have clients describe very carefully the difference between two units of the company, and their instinct is to align the website to this structure. “Oh that’s the other department.” But in most cases, the way the departments approach things aren’t of any value whatsoever to your website user.

Organize for visitor needs, using terms they understand.


Users come to your website with specific needs and questions.


A website organized along org chart lines scatters the information they want and may confuse them.


Organizing for user needs makes their experience of the site simpler, and they’re more likely to stay on your site.

Imagine potential visitors with different needs. What might they be looking for? What will speak to them? Kim Flaherty of NN/g encourages the use of scenario mapping to “work out how different personas will use the proposed design to solve their tasks.”

When you can break free of your organizational structure to see how users are approaching you, and what needs they have, you’ll be in a much stronger position to convince them you have a simple, powerful offering for them.

And good structure can mean better SEO. John Mueller of Google during a Google Webmaster Hangout said that a website that’s harder for people to navigate will “lose a lot of context. So if we’re only seeing these URLs through your sitemap file then we don’t really know how these URLs are related to each other and it makes it really hard for us to be able to understand how relevant is this piece of content in the context of your website.”

In other words, Google crawls a website in a similar way to how a user clicks through, trying to make sense of what the site is about. Organizing for users in a clear manner can’t help but help Google rank your site.

By David Kerr | Filed Under: Strategy

David Kerr Design