Make your “link farm” usable.
In website design, the “Collateral” section (sorry, I just don’t have a better label for it right now) is the repository for our reference materials. These often describe the Where, When, and How. This library of materials might include:
- Calendar of upcoming events (including announcements and alerts)
- History of previous Events
- Policy papers
- “How to” manuals
- Links to articles and news items by others
- Electronic Media slideshows, videos
These individual collateral items are salted in appropriate spots around the rest of the website. Because they are timely and media-oriented(i.e. visual), they are often the featured items on a page.
In fact, a single Collateral item might be featured in several different pages. But they still need a common place to live.
Because of the timeliness factor, an appropriate, accessible label for the Collateral section might also be “In the News”.
We should “library” our collateral
I am tempted – but reluctant – to label the Collateral section as a “Library” (a little too dowdy and off-putting). But that’s really what it is.
In practical terms…
It’s not likely that a visitor will come to the Collateral section intentionally unless they are interested in information research self service (i.e. Journalists). They will probably want to view collateral items that share a common topic, s.a. a Project title or a Mission Initiative (like “education”). That’s why the materials in the Collateral section should be libraried: identified by tags and sorted into categories.
Collateral is an exercise in Content Strategy
Once libraried, the collateral is
- Tagged by topic (and any other relevant attributes)
- Shared across the site
- Searchable by categories
The Content Inventory … is a fundamental building block of any presentation of information – and any site. It’s how you know what you have to work with.
Hidden agenda: The Collateral section merely exposes the information architecture that we should be doing anyhow – in the background, across the site.
Collateral enhances credibility. The Collateral section is where a lot of visitor self-servicing work gets done.
“Flat” design assumes a slick, silver-platter presentational approach which often compromises your agency (your ability to act on your own behalf).
The Collateral section is less sexy, but it still has value.
© The Communication Studio LLC