You’re an industrial manufacturer with a growing list of resources…everything from white papers to webinars — resources your customers and internal staff need to use on a regular basis. How do you go about organizing those resources and what’s the best way to do it?
Organizing and making your resources easily available is no small task and requires a bit of foresight to get right. The good news is that you can take a Growth-Driven Design (GDD) approach to continuous improvement, getting valuable data “feedback” constantly to use in incrementalimprovements over time. In other words, you don’t need to strive for perfection; strive for good/effective, and work to enhance with every iteration.
Here’s an overview of what the process should look like:
You wouldn’t let your warehouse be disorganized, so why would you let your online resources? Inventory everything you currently have, then reduce it down to a list of all the resources you want to include in the Resources page launch. If you have tons of resources or simply don’t have the time, go with your heavy-hitter content — the resources that are most requested or have demonstrated the greatest power to lure your best prospects through their buyer’s journey. Go from there, adding slowly through each improvement cycle.
Categorize & Collect Data
Wow — look at you with your list of resources! Don’t be too proud of yourself, though — there’s still more work to be done. Once you have the list of resources to offer at launch, categorize them in a way that makes sense for filtering. The key here is to make sure you aren’t being too general or too specific. If you find you have resources that are falling into many, or all, of your categories, then your categorization scheme isn’t very useful. For example, let’s say you have 10 white papers that are all about plastic gating issues during injection molding. If all 10 resources fall into the “gating troubleshooting” category, it isn’t going to help the user if every filter produces the exact same result. Try to find meaningful nuances among these 10 pieces, like specific industry focus or type of troubleshooting. The key with categorization is that it’s broad enough so that there aren’t 50 options available, but specific enough to be helpful for your users as they try to find something that addresses their specific need.
Look into the data to understand how your current users interact with your site and resources; the most helpful content filters might be:
FAQ Type (What questions are your customers asking?)
Don’t forget about your internal users. Some of our clients also need their internal teams to access their resources, and often those internal goals/needs are different from website visitors’ goals/needs. If this is the case, you might need two different access points to those resources, each organized under a unique set of categories.
Once you’ve finalized the categories, go through your spreadsheet to make sure each resource is tagged accordingly; flag resources that are gated and link to a landing page form before the user can download the content. This will help you and your development team later on.
Accuracy of PDFs
I cannot stress the importance of this next step enough. Nothing will matter if you build a beautiful filtered page if you do not have accurate resources at the start. Two critical reminders:
Make sure the names of your PDFs make sense. Don’t have generic names like 2006-white-paper.pdf. Specificity is what we’re striving for here
While you’re doing that, look at the properties of your PDF and edit accordingly. Make sure the name, author, and meta descriptions all align with the actual content of the resource. Not only does this keep you organized but it makes it easier for Google to crawl the content of the PDF so users searching will find the content they’re looking for
Wireframes & Mockups
Now that you have all resources organized and categorized you can move onto the design of the page and the user experience (UX). How will the resources filter? Will the user understand how from the get-go? What can you do to make it as straightforward as possible?
Look at competitors’ resources or e-commerce sites to understand how they organize filters. You’ll eventually see best practices and standard approaches in action; use those if you don’t feel you have a more practical, user-friendly approach. By going with the status quo, you’ll save users from having to “learn” how to filter your page.
Once you have the page mocked up and framed out, have your stakeholders/team members review and make a decision. You’re going to make assumptions here about how visitors think and act, and it’s okay if you’re wrong; it can always be changed. The key is to make it as simple as possible while still being beneficial.
Development & Testing
You should expect development to take some time, as will loading each resource and categorizing it appropriately. There will be a lot of back and forth that will happen with the developers to get it right, so plan accordingly. The process includes everything from tagging the resources with the proper data to making sure the filtering is working in the way a standard user would expect, and it’s not going to happen overnight.
Once it is complete, try to break it! Put it through some rigorous testing to make sure it functions as it should. When you’re comfortable, send it out for review internally and have users provide feedback. Get as much input as you can, address the input that makes sense, then move on. The key with a GDD approach is to pull the trigger and not worry about getting it perfect for everyone.
Now, put analytics in place. If you already have Google Analytics and Hotjar installed site-wide (you should), you’re good to go. If not, get the appropriate analytics software and code installed to make sure you’re getting as much information out of the page as possible. Also ask Google to re-index the site to make sure that your resources are found.
It Will Never Be Over
It’s not limbo, it’s just growth-driven design! You should constantly be improving your Resources page over time, and the frequency of those changes will depend on your users and data. A few weeks after launching, collect data and review how your users are interacting. Are they trying to click on the title of the resource instead of the “Read More” link? If that’s the case, maybe you should make the title a link to the resource as well.
The goal is to constantly improve the page so your users are finding what they’re looking for. By making it as easy as possible, you’ll be collecting more contacts when users find what they need and fill out a gated resource form. More contacts mean more potential leads — and a more successful manufacturing business.
Posted by Justin Harrison Justin Harrison is a Creative Director at Weidert Group. His wide-ranging experience in graphic and web design helps clients establish and leverage effective inbound marketing tools across several digital platforms.