How we organize the content you want

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy March 13, 2016
We made some important changes when we re-engineered diginomica. This story covers content categorization.

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When we re-engineered diginomica there were a few things we wanted to re-imagine, not least the way we organize our content. At the time we had over 3,500 pieces of content spread among more than 100 categories. This is not atypical of a medium that grows and expands rapidly. We knew from feedback and reading habits that most people who visit diginomica fall into two groups. First, there are those who are interested in one and/or a handful of topics. These are usually subject matter experts who want to keep up with what's happening in their chosen area. Then there are those who want an 'all you can eat' option. These are people who have a broad range of interests and who like to 'pick and mix' topics.

Recognizing those demographics, Jon Reed and Phil Wainewright spent a painstaking few weeks figuring out what the topic areas should look like, how they break out and how they should be organized. The net result is that we now have 19 topic areas which are held under three broad categories. The menu bar at the top is your starting point. Click on an item and see what happens.

In order to make it easy for you to find content, we developed a structure that reflects those topics. Each has its own landing page (here is an example) which includes a hand curated section. Each of the main editors is responsible for selecting what they believe to be the 'best of' stories in their sections. These stories then appear in the curated carousel on each of the topic landing pages. That helps topic readers to focus on what we believe is the best content at any one time. We base those selections upon an assessment of many metrics.

Each topic landing page has a fairly long description so that you can better understand what you can expect to find. We've also made the category names descriptive in their own right. The idea is that at a glance, you have enough information with which to decide which topics matter to you. This also means we avoid tedious terms that are largely meaningless to everyone except media people.

Some topics have sub-categories. These are not given landing pages but have an archive page which looks a lot like a stream of content.

We offer different ways to consume the content. You can for example bookmark a landing page and click over as time permits. We have RSS feeds for each topic so you can consume the headline and excerpt for each story in the RSS reader of your choice and then click for the full content. Finally, we offer an email digest which can include one or multiple topics. We believe that these options, along with distributing via the major social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide everyone with a broad range of consumption options.

We think this approach makes much more sense than what went before. But it is only the start.

Looking ahead, we want to provide 'smart content' that is based upon how you use the site. This is a logical next step because we know that while people often have specific interests, those can and will change over time. We cannot predict how that will work for every one of the more than 125,000 people that turn up at the site each month. But we can apply machine learning to discover how people navigate around the site which in turn allows us to algorithmically discover patterns of content relevance. These are early days but we are confident that over time, readers will get a much more focused and nuanced experience than is the case today. Who knows, one day we may even be able to deliver fully personalized content. Crucially, since we do not carry any advertising, you are safe in the knowledge that you won't be spammed with garbage. From our standpoint, it means we can focus on the things that really do matter to you and not just the things we think are important or which we discover by polling readers every now and again.

In the meantime, check out the three and a half minute video I assembled that explains how this works. Trust me - it is easy to follow.

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