How to Curb the Content Deluge on Enterprise Platforms
When it comes to a corporate website, quality over quantity can make a big difference to the user experience. Sure, an enterprise will have an excess of content across its various products and sub brands, each designed with different audience personas in mind. But for users—or even development teams preparing for a platform refresh—sifting through all of that content can be daunting.
Organizing content in a way that is easily navigable and actionable is crucial in developing a strong user journey—even more so for a corporate platform that exists to inform. “When it comes to companies that have so much existing content and information, how do you organize that massive number of things to say—and make it personalized and easy to find?” asks Group Creative Director Niels Dortland. The challenge lies not in representing the breadth of information available, but rather pushing users to the right content to act or purchase.
From microsites to enterprise platforms, our platforms team has worked with a wide variety of brands to implement new content management systems, design personalized journeys, and improve accessibility—and finding the right way to surface up key bits of content out of a massive library is key to each of those efforts. Here’s a look inside how the team did just that for Jacobs, an engineering company whose portfolio touches design, construction, consulting and maintenance across a wide range of industries around the world.
Overcome the homepage turf war.
What causes the content overload that is so common on corporate websites? “Everyone wants to say everything, so everything is on the menu,” says Fernanda González, Group Experience Director. That might be a welcome sight at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, but not so much when searching a website for information you need.
The maximalist approach is often the result of intra-political clashes between different business units. A company is a bundle of different teams with different goals and responsibilities, and it’s a reasonable expectation that each should be equally represented on the website. But the primary focus should be on understanding the different types of users who will visit the website and how to account for their needs.
“What will get people to move forward, and how do we mix those things together into a good user experiences?” González asks, reasserting a user-led approach to content management. Our team’s solution: deliver dynamic content based on each individual’s needs, meaning no one is scrounging for homepage real estate.
We offer functionalities that don’t compete with one another and service different users.
Tap into off-the-shelf solutions to make content easily searchable.
One way to move past messy menus and overwhelming content feeds is to put search front and center, helping visitors access the content they need in just a few keystrokes and clicks. For Jacobs, we implemented an AI-powered search engine that greets visitors by asking what they’re looking for. The sophisticated language model lets users answer in plain English, rather than strings of SEO-ified keywords.
The model also made search far easier to implement than a traditional engine, as natural language processing bypassed the need to index and structure data across Jacobs’ existing content—a lengthy and meticulous process that can stretch development cycles across months. “Many other search engines on websites like this need to be very structured with keywords,” says González. “Instead of that, we implemented a smart one that learns to search for content as quick as possible.”
The team further sped up development by choosing an existing search solution, rather than build one from scratch. “Taking tech off the shelf is smarter for brands because it’s faster,” says Dortland, compared to the work of big consultancy firms who easily get tied up in assessments, planning and processes instead of execution. This resourceful method of spinning up solutions means we can make a difference to the user experience now versus a year down the line.
Not only that, off-the-shelf tools are also backed by dedicated development teams and robust documentation should the need for troubleshooting arise. And that’s just the beginning, because as users browse and search around, the platform becomes more aware of their needs, employing a feedback loop to help enhance the user experience with speedier, more accurate results.
Take a cue from social media to make content actionable.
Easily finding content is one thing, but what should users do with it once they’ve landed? “We realized that people want to save content, so we activated that in the user journey,” says González. As users browse content, they can save it to their favorites board—a lot like saving creative inspiration on Pinterest.
“You can shape boards around different topics of interest, and this lets you use the website more as a utility to gather information,” González adds. In addition to letting users build their own boards, the platform also curates topic-specific boards that pull content from both the CMS and social platforms like LinkedIn that are always changing and always relevant to provide a unique experience for every user.
Put accessibility at users’ fingertips.
A social-inspired interface is one way to make content easily accessible to users. But platforms should also comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which a legal requirement in many parts of the world. Accessibility works best when it plays a key role in the design of an interface—not as an afterthought—and we went beyond Level AA compliance for Jacobs by also implementing a configurator that lets each user create the optimal viewing experience for themselves.
Options include a reading mask—which creates a focus area on the screen that follows the user’s cursor, blocking out distractions—and the ability to turn off animations and motion graphics. The result is a platform that’s not only personalized in the sense that content conforms to a user’s interest; the interface itself adjusts to their needs. Both result in a more intuitive journey across the entire Jacobs brand story.
Keep up with solutions as technology evolves.
Building a state-of-the-art platform doesn’t mean spending years reinventing the wheel. Nor does trudging through a library of legacy content to make it easy for modern visitors to search and navigate. Rather, tapping into existing, modern tech solutions can help overcome hurdles that hamper the user experience—and do it fast.
We need to be knowledgeable about where a brand is at in their digital maturity, what are the tools they are using, and what existing technology we can play with to make the experience better.
As new technologies emerge—hello, generative AI—platforms and user journeys will continue to evolve, underscoring the importance of a partner who can identify the shortest path to success among them. Remember: platforms are always evolving, meaning there’s never a shortage of options to streamline user journeys and make content more accessible.
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