Just Enough Content (Types)

Goldilocks was very tired so she looked for somewhere to sleep. The first bed she found was too hard, the second was too soft. But the third bed was perfect, and she fell into a deep sleep.

How many content types should we have?

How many words should be on a page?

Every course I teach or workshop I facilitate brings these questions. The participants have heard the adage "less is more" but they don't know what that means in reality.

Let's tackle words on a page first.

There are web writing guidelines for how long a sentence should be (no more than 14 words) and how long a paragraph should be (3-5 sentences). (Just violated the first one!) But there are no rules – or even guidelines – for how much to put on a page.

Too few words and readers won't get the information they need to satisfy their needs. Too many and the message gets lost.

You need just enough content (words, images, videos, or something else) to make your message clear and satisfy the readers' needs. No more no less.

Same with content types. I can say with much certainty than one content type is too few and 75 is too many. But how many you need depends on so many things that I couldn't begin to tell you how many is the right amount for your organization.

Too few content types and content gets squeezed into boxes that don't fit. Too many and the content becomes a jumbled mess of discarded types that lay empty and overused ones that get created on the fly for new types of content.

The secret is to plan. To get the right amount of content, think about what the user needs and respond to them with what content you create. Stop when you're done.

To get the right number of content types, make a model of your content types before you start building the system to hold them. Each content type will allow you to create content to get your message across with the right amount of content wherever it appears.

What will people say when they come to your website?

  • I can't find anything, there's too much here.
  • There's not enough to help me solve my problem.
  • This is just what I needed.