What is structured content (and why it’s important)

Posted on December 6, 2023

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A government website often feels like a firehose of information. It’s overwhelming to read long paragraphs of text, especially on your phone. Content editors struggle to keep things up to date, especially when the same information appears on multiple pages. Structured content is a way to organize and present information in a way that makes it easy to understand, manage, and reuse.

Key characteristics and benefits include:

  • Consistent formatting
  • Modular, reusable components
  • Category and search metadata
  • Machine readability
  • Adaptability for different devices and platforms

These characteristics make your content easier for you to manage and for people to use.

As a content editor, it’s important to understand how to structure your content in your content management system. There are different levels and types of structure. Depending on the system you use, these may have different names and ways of working.

Structure within text

The most basic and simple way to structure your content is to use sequential headings (h1, h2, h3) to outline your information in a logical way. Lists, with bullets or numbers, help provide structure to your content too.

Headings and lists create logic and hierarchy to your content, making it easy to scan and understand.

Everyone who manages website content in your organization should know how to organize information using headings and lists.

Widgets on a page

The most common type of content on a page is text. In addition to text, you can usually use other widgets to organize and present information in a consistent way across your website. This includes things like:

  • Contact information
  • Buttons with links
  • Dynamic lists of other content

Most widgets need headings so it’s clear to people what they are.

Dynamic content

Using dynamic lists is an efficient way to organize and structure certain types of content such as:

  • Events
  • Meetings
  • News
  • Documents
  • Contacts

You can usually filter lists by categories or sort them by date. You can also present information in multiple places. For example, the same news item can be in a general news feed on the homepage as well as a filtered news feed on a department landing page.

Learn more about structured content

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