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What is your site for? Deep dive: Informative sites

Edgar Allan | Blog | Informative Sites

This article is part of our series on Four Essential Questions to Ask When Building a Successful Website, specifically part of question one: What is your site for?

At its core, a website exists for humans — and to some degree businesses — to solve problems. So taking the time to look closely at what those problems are is going to help you figure out how to solve them successfully. Similarly, knowing that the problem we’re solving is one of brand awareness, sales journey, information distribution, or inspiring knowledge leadership (or something else) is going to help focus your efforts when planning and executing the work. 

What is an informative site?

Sites that fall into this category are usually a little bit deeper, a little meatier in content, and are typically more functional than story-led. Informative sites may touch on brand-related items like who the company is and what they do, but those elements are typically secondary to distributing information.  

Think government entities, schools, and large organizations with lots of members and directive or functional information to present to a wide range of people. For that reason, these types of sites have to be a place where many different types of users can find very specific pieces of info. 

For example: Gov.uk. This is a massive site that serves as a repository for all kinds of information from vehicle tax to legal processes, housing to citizenship. It is not flashy, it is pure function, as it exists solely to help people of all walks of life access information critical to their lives in Britain. (It is also the website that sparked the content design revolution, by the way.)

On sites like this, users are there to solve very direct problems much more than satisfy their curiosities (like on an enticement site). Things like:

  • Find an address.
  • Dig deeply into the details of a program of study 
  • Get the requirements to accomplish a task
  • Sign up for an experience
  • Discover and reference the steps to do something complex
  • Find a person and reach out

What is the goal of this type of site?

An informative site’s goal is to present information in an easy, understandable, findable way. These are sites that appeal to a seeker type of web user — someone who is laser-focused on completing a task. They’re like missiles locked onto a target, but unlike missiles, if the path gets too difficult to tread, they’ll bail in an instant. 

What should you focus on when creating an informative site?

Informative sites are fantastic puzzles to solve. They typically have broad audiences, accessibility requirements, and are jam-packed with content. So, what you need most when creating this type of site is kick-ass, thoughtful content design that is audience-focused and heavily leverages excellent UX and SEO.

The Harvard University website is a great example of an informative site, dedicated to helping audiences from prospective to current students, faculty, and alumni find people, events, programming information, and more.

To be effective, an informative site must be intensely audience-led, so it’s a perfect place to go all-in on content design

In case you’re not familiar with the term, content design is creating in a way that gives users the information that they want in the place and the way that they want it to be presented. 

So, for an informative site:

  • You put effort into audience research
  • You put work into creating accessibility, everywhere
  • You focus on UX and content design collaboration 
  • You spend time on user journeys and pathing
  • You sink time and money into SEO to get people to the right places on the site

TLDR: If we are creating this type of site, we’re looking to put more emphasis on research and on the content design and UX teams working hand-in-hand to turn audience insight into interactions, narrative flow, and writing that gives those searchers precisely what they’re looking for with the least amount of friction possible. We might spend less time on flashy design and more time stripping away distractions. 

Wait — aren’t there other types of sites too? Indeed. Check out the master article here.

Interested in partnering with Edgar Allan on a web design, brand, or content design project? Get in contact with us today.

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