Joe Leech

UX mistakes I have made #1: The Resources Section

A series of blog posts about common Information Architecture (IA) and UX mistakes. I have at some point made all of these blunders and later regretted each and every one.

We need a resources tab on the navigation to bring together all the great stuff we offer.

Heard time and again on web projects.

The Resources section has good intentions. A single point for all the disparate whitepapers, downloads, templates, blog posts, videos, audio files, FAQs, news, trends, reports and articles from across the site in one handy place.

Sometimes called: Insights, Trends, Free Stuff,

‘But what’s the problem with a resources section?’ I hear you ask.

When users come to a website they always have a goal in mind.

  • To see if your product or service meets my needs (eg ‘Are you shoes offered in red?’ or ‘Does your app do a specific thing?’)
  • To learn about something (‘I’m interested in modern art from 1960s’ ‘I want to know how to cheaper international calls on your network’ or ‘How do I use your app to scan paper documents?’)
  • To buy a product or service (‘Buy those shoes in red’ or ‘Buy and start using the app’ or ‘get a free Sketch template’)

All these goals have one thing in common.

They are focused on what the content is about not what the content is.

Users don’t care if their goals mean they are reading a blog post, a news story, an article, a whitepaper, a trend report (well, they care if you bury stuff in a ten page PDF), a support ticket or a forum post.

User goals are almost never “I want to read a blog post or a whitepaper”. Users don’t and shouldn’t care what format the content is in. They care what the content is about.

» Learn about the Jobs to be Done Framework to help with issues like this

So where should you put this disparate stuff? Where the user expects to find it, preferably in a section with a name that closely matches their goal. Run a card sort to help understand where it could live.

Worse, over time the resources section becomes a dumping ground of stuff the organisation doesn’t know how to deal with. A place where content comes to die. A place that the web content team know is a wild, unruly, hotchpotch that analytics tells you is the worst performer in your top nav.

If you have a Resources section of your website remove it as soon as you can, your users and your team will thank you for it.

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