illustration of a tablet and a web page displaying simplified blocks of content

Develop Clearly Defined Content

Websites that are clear and easy to navigate get more viewers. They do so by presenting content that is concise and easy to navigate while avoiding pages that appear cluttered. Users appreciate when they can quickly locate content that is of interest to them without having to spend time searching for it. Designing a well-defined site with easy-to-find information proves useful for the user as well as the site owner.   

  • Users are not confused by unimportant site content.
  • Individuals using assistive technology are better able to navigate a site that is not cluttered.

Solid Structure, Hierarchy, & Standards

An initial step to website development is properly organizing content on a page—for example, marking a heading as a heading rather than enlarging the text and making it bold. That way the HTML of the document has structural information and the stylesheet (CSS) handles how the heading displays. If you are using a content management system (CMS) there are already built-in tools to handle this for you.

  • When a website’s content is built around a solid structure, the order and flow of content is clear to people who use screen reader software. Content displays can be changed without losing meaning.

Design Site for Clarity and Simplicity

During the life cycle of a website, it is easy to continue adding site content in an ad hoc way without properly planning the ongoing layout and organization of a site. It is important that as a site grows it still maintains its clarity and simplicity. Every time new content is added, site structure becomes more complex and usability and accessibility can be diminished.

The purpose of each website should be clear, and well defined, and allow for continued development. When expanding upon an existing website, it is important to reference the original purpose of the site and make sure that purpose is still evident with new additions. If the new content isn’t consistent, but it adds value, consider changing the original purpose of the website.

Clean Presentation Supports Meaning

Content should at all times be easy to follow and understand. Pages should not be overly complex, and they should avoid featuring flashing or moving content as it can distract a reader from what’s important on a page. By taking steps to ensure clean presentation, you make information more accessible for everyone.

Each page on a website should provide information specific to that page and not others. Anything that pertains to other pages and that potentially distracts a reader’s attention away from the point you are trying to make should be removed. Providing clean content that is free from distractions is important to effective presentation.

For content creators, a focus on clean presentation means:

  • Users may adapt the content display to meet their needs without loss of information.
  • Content is optimized for legibility and readability.
  • Users, including people with visual impairments, have access to all information conveyed visually, including people with visual impairments.

Accessibility Checklist

  • Can you map every page and feature of your site to a specific project goal?
    Is every element present for a valid purpose?
  • Are the necessary and most relevant resources obvious and easy to locate?
  • Can users readily answer the question, “Where am I and what can I do here?" on every page of your site?