One of our best clients was working on a new webpage that would contain three similar yet distinct content areas, each associated with a department in her company. She explained that the content was being grouped because it was related, but that in some ways each section competed against the other two. She told me that she was grappling with how to order the content –randomly, alphabetically or by some other construct.
Discussions about how to order web content including whether to alphabetize it have come up before at Buzzquake.
Order of Importance
I told her that my strong preference is to put the most important content first (on the left side if the content is in a row and on top if it’s in a column), with respect to how it contributes to meeting the goals for your website. For example,
- You may need to weigh whether you are trying to “sell” one service or product over another, and if so, put that one first.
- If there’s a product/service that isn’t very popular and you want to bring it to people’s attention to increase awareness/sales, then I’d put it first.
A secondary ranking factor might be the relative sizes of each service/product — the number of people they serve and revenue they generate.
Third would be alphabetical, if all products/services are ranked the same in terms of the two above criteria.
Numeric information is a different story. As you often see in pricing tables, relative size is used to indicate importance. People prefer to see numeric information in ascending or descending order (see image above).
In the end, our client decided to put the content in alphabetical order because the products were of equal importance in terms of meeting the goals of the website.