Information Hierarchy (aka Information Architecture)
Information Hierarchy (sometimes called Information Architecture) is a narrower concept than Content Architecture and refers to the arrangement of your copy within and across your website pages in a way that makes sense to your primary audience. The inverted triangle is a metaphor for doing so.
Inverted triangles—aka inverted pyramids—are an efficient way to address multiple audiences because different deciders and influencers respond to varying depths of information. Prospects can stop anywhere along the hypotenuse and still have a coherent understanding of what your company offers.
- Your broadest and most important content comes first and should clarify your positioning.
- Subsequent content should be increasingly specific and speak to your points of differentiation.
- Optional content is more detailed and reinforces what you said within the first two tiers.
- Imagine that the prospect company’s CEO only requires the broadest information. She’s vetting a short list of companies before passing the actual decision-making to her technical officer (CTO). She “only” wants to know about your brand, your positioning, and your reputation in the marketplace. So she stops at the bottom of the first tier (1).
- Her CTO requires more complete detail. He needs to know your points of differentiation: the nitty gritty about why he should choose yours rather than another company. He wants features and benefits, too. So he begins at the top (1) and stops at the bottom of the middle tier (2).
- Then, perhaps, her chief operational officer (COO)—an influencer—is interested in particulars that are too granular to be of interest for either the CEO or CTO. Often these are details he knows can affect his downtime, productivity, maintenance costs, and similar operational parameters. He might enter the hierarchy at the top of the last tier (3) to retrieve what he needs—never reading the top (1) and middle (2) tiers at all.
Notice that the most granular content, therefore, is not haphazardly placed upwards in the hierarchy where it would interfere with the ordered flow of information, which could inadvertently signal to the CEO and CTO that they should stop reading here when in fact there’s broader information you want each to see that’s further down the hierarchy.