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
  • Reports
  • 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.

the Takeaway

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

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