Webifying Large Documents, Part 5
The latest chapter in webifying large documents without going insane; Providing Structure
Step 4: Providing Structure
Structure provides safety; a well-structured piece can be any length and still allow readers/users to enjoy getting through it. This can be highly challenging work, especially if the source document hasn’t been written with the web in mind.
From the work in step 2 you will have started thinking about how to break your material down into easily digestible chunks. Here is where you need to complete that work.
The best way to provide structure, whether for brochure-ware or for a process, is to create an outline; this is especially true you’re working with pre-existing material that wasn’t created with one.
Creating an outline can be difficult, but it forces you to think about how everything fits together. Only in outline form you can see all of the pieces at once, in order to ensure that they all fit together flow in a way that makes sense to a user or reader. It’s also the best way to explain the material’s structure to your designers and programmers, so that they can create great user experiences.
A good outline breaks up the material into both major and minor sections. The minor sections should go down to the smallest sections with a single theme. In a brochure-ware piece these theme will be pretty clear, although you may need to move some content around to keep each theme consistent (it’s not unusual for non-web-savvy writers to be somewhat rambling, and it’s going to be your job to undo that).
If you’re working with an extremely complex process, it you may need to create sketches, diagrams, or process flows so designers and programmers can follow the flow of the process. Keeping this as straightforward as possible will save considerable time later in the project.
Finishing this enables you to move to the next step, providing guideposts.
For the sake of clarity and making this document easily digestible in a blog format, I have split it into several parts. However, you can download the entire doc here: