User Experience

The right answer at the right time

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01

How the progressive content approach works

Content determines its own structure – and that structure resembles a tree. That’s what reality looks like on the internet. Content is bundled according to topics, information hierarchies are derived from that, and finally the page structure the user sees is created. The greater the need for explanation, the more layers the structure has. And the tree becomes a thicket in which the user loses their way.

The way website content is dealt with therefore has to change, as classic structures now stand in the way of companies reaching both their users and their own business targets.  On the one hand, there is increasing complexity and a greater need for explanation in many areas. At the same time, users have higher expectations and ever-shrinking attention spans. Websites therefore have to be understood as intelligent tools that should adapt to the situation and motivation of the user.

The progressive content approach therefore involves companies providing web content that is displayed according to the user’s situation and behavior, so that the user can reach their goal. This also means that if the situation and motivation of the user changes, the content on display will, in the best scenario, adapt accordingly.

This approach assumes that the navigation, with as few levels as possible, is used merely as an entry point, while the pages themselves and the complex structure behind them can react in a far more efficient way to the needs of users. The foundation for this is made up of highly condensed content that allows for quick comprehension and is far more effective than tree structures in showing what detailed information lies behind it – without piling up mountains of content. From there, users can then access additional content while remaining directly on the page.

The progressive content approach can also mean content is offered several times on different pages, depending on the context. In combination with clear, conversion-driven actions and call-to-actions, user and business aims converge.

Combination with tracking data

The next level of the progressive content approach involves not just thinking about content in clusters, but reacting directly to evident user needs – in other words, not only deepening existing content, but offering decisions and therefore solutions. This model can be ideally combined with tracking and analysis data, so that pages can be developed which, in terms of form, adapt their content and visual appearance to user needs: personalization takes place in real time by means of a dynamic page structure – indirectly via user behavior and directly via interactions.

t3n.de published a detailed German-language version of this article: So lieferst du Website-Besuchern die richtige Antwort zur richtigen Zeit.

About the Author

Julian Helfricht
Senior UX Designer

In his role as Senior UX Designer, Julian Helfricht is responsible for the user-centered design of complex digital products at UDG United Digital Group. He has been helping companies develop digital solutions for over ten years.