Creating an effective CMS strategy around understandable content is essential for any organization that wants to meet the needs of its users. As Information Architects, our goal is to create an environment that is usable and understandable to human beings, and that can adapt and grow over time to meet the changing needs of users and organizations.
One of the key principles of IA is that we understand things in relationship to something else, and we use context to understand these relationships. When designing a CMS strategy, we need to create an environment that provides context for the content, and that makes it easy for users to understand how the content relates to their needs.
To achieve this, we need to consider the principles of design for understanding. One of the key principles is to create a sense of space, even in digital environments. Just as humans build semantic relationships with their physical surroundings, they also build relationships with digital environments, and we can use this to our advantage by creating structures and patterns that users will recognize and understand.
We can also use cultural conventions and patterns that have evolved over time to create structures that users will recognize. For example, when designing a bank’s website, we can use semantic cues that will quickly allow the user to understand that they are in a virtual bank.
Another important principle is to use organizing principles to give coherence and structure to the content. We can use hierarchy and rhythm to structure the content, and we can use consistent language and order to provide coherence.
Modularity and extensibility are also important considerations. While the layout and visual design of websites can change over time, the semantic structure tends to remain relatively stable, and users become accustomed to this structure. We need to ensure that our CMS strategy is modular and extensible, so that it can adapt to changing needs while still maintaining the coherence and structure that users have come to expect.
Ultimately, our main goal in IA is to create a balance between finding and understanding information. Finding and understanding are not separate goals, but rather two sides of the same coin. By designing a CMS strategy that is based on the principles of design for understanding, we can create an environment that meets the needs of our users and helps them to find and understand the content they need.
This text is based on my notes from part I of the book “Information Architecture for the Web and Beyond” by the authors: Louis Rosenfeld, Peter Morville, and Jorge Arango. O’Reilly 2015.