A couple of years ago, I was involved with the web redesign of a giant global brand that had not been paying any attention to their digital presence for years. As a result, their website was weighed down with the ultimate sin – hoarding of knowledge. Everything had been stuffed into the knowledge closet, with no effort to organize or stack items neatly, or even just label it: “This is a mess!”

It’s not uncommon – for websites to balloon into flabby monsters through the years, as organizations grow. It seems logical, right? More products, more information, more facts & figures… more content.

But here’s the rub: even if an organization’s information output expands, even if a brand’s tree of knowledge spreads its branches in several directions, does the website really need to inflate? After all, not every single bit of the product information needs to be on the site.

In an era when the digital user has evolved, businesses need to invest effort in planning and actively designing their knowledge hubs.

Here are some key aspects of knowledge design that can help organisations put out their key information while also serving the customer’s interests in a wholesome way.

Build customer trust: Ethics in knowledge production

In the post-pandemic world, ethical knowledge production is one of the best ways of building customer trust. Whether financial products or consumer goods, fashion & apparel, food & beverages, entertainment, lifestyle & wellness; whatever the industry segment, information that is key to customer well-being and decision-making should be prominently displayed.

Some examples of this kind of information are:

  • Information that has a bearing on people’s physical or mental health. E.g., food supplements or dietary products and recommendations.
  • Data relating to the origins of products and lifecycle, testing methods (animal / human), as applicable in the pharma industry.
  • Environmental impact of the use and/or incorrect disposal of products. E.g., consumer goods, electrical and electronic products.
  • Which section of people are more vulnerable to its effects (pregnant women, children below 5 years). E.g., OTT content or online gaming.

By sharing this kind of information, the brand communicates openness and maturity, thus winning people’s confidence.

Make your brand memorable: Human-centred presentation

Strip away every excess – try not to over-explain or stack up too many words

Design the knowledge for humans to be snackable and cognitively easy on the eye. Words are boring; more words, more boring. Knowledge on the web should be designed artfully, taking into account the ‘shape’ of the knowledge.

And what does that mean?

‘Shape’ of knowledge implies stacking information to optimize its value to the end-user – right information at the right juncture.

  • Use graphics or illustrations. This simplifies the message.
  • Visualise information in a suitable container. Lists, summaries, boxed elements catch the user’s attention better.
  • Strip away every excess – try not to over-explain and stack more words (mostly that’s only confusing).
  • The video format continues to grow in popularity. A recent Cisco study estimated that video will be responsible for 82% percent of internet traffic worldwide by 2022. 
  • Use ‘comparison windows’ to aid decision making – attribute-wise comparison with competing brands in the same segment.

Design knowledge into attractive and compact parcels that the customer can easily scan, and then take away in his mind. Light, easy to carry.

Place your brand within everyone’s reach: Democratic content design

Knowledge should serve all customer segments in the way they wish to be served. The business might have time-bound targets of focusing on one or the other segment, but website content serves all folks.

Millennials or Gen Z; boomers and specific communities; the customer on the go; the other person on a discovery and exploration journey; the fellow who likes detailed insights; the young lady who wants to make a snap decision. Let’s also remember the digital citizen is just getting younger and younger. On the web, they are all equal.

Make a knowledge staircase – leading from one level to the next: quick-win content to fulfil immediate customer needs; then, deeper insightful content journeys that promote a deeper engagement.

Remember, every customer who visits the website is important.

Build customer loyalty: Design knowledge for long-tail engagement

Brands are now starting to own and publish their own content. This is a mature marketing strategy. It helps build trust and engages customers over the long term. It could be long-form content or user-generated (and moderated / curated) conversations, or podcasts and short films.

Think of all the ways you can engage your customers in a meaningful, two-way conversation. Ensure you are listening, and ensure too, that your customers know you are listening.

This, by the way, is also great from an SEO perspective.

As more and more brands strive to humanize their digital personas, human orientation of knowledge is one of their primary responsibilities. It means viewing their web content as knowledge that empowers their customers in different ways at various points in their life.

It makes all the difference between a brand as a label-on-a-box and a brand as a partner-for-life.

Image copyright © Photo by Tiia Pakk from Pexels

Published on 1 March 2022.

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