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Web Style Guide

Organizing information

Our day-to-day professional and social lives rarely demand that we create detailed architectures of what we know and how those structures of information are linked. Yet without a solid and logical organizational foundation, your Web site will not function well even if your basic content is accurate, attractive, and well written. Cognitive psychologists have known for decades that most people can hold only about four to seven discrete chunks of information in short-term memory. The way people seek and use reference information also suggests that smaller, discrete units of information are more functional and easier to handle than long, undifferentiated tracts.

There are five basic steps in organizing your information:

  1. Divide your content into logical units
  2. Establish a hierarchy of importance among the units
  3. Use the hierarchy to structure relations among units
  4. Build a site that closely follows your information structure
  5. Analyze the functional and aesthetic success of your system

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