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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Too Much Content!! What Do I Do??

    Just when I thought v2.0 of my website was done, it looks like I have stumbled across a pretty big *crisis* dealing with my website and "Information Architecture"...

    The problem is that I have TOO MUCH CONTENT to fit into my website's current design, and I can't seem to figure out what to do with everything!!


    How to describe all of this???


    Background:
    When I first started working on v2.0 of my website back maybe 18-24 months ago, I wanted to make my website more "dynamic" and "interactive". Instead of just having 20 static HTML pages, I wanted to make it so Content would be a.) Easy to move around, b.) Database Driven, and c.) Easily Cross-Referenced/Cross-Linked. I also wanted to add a "Social Media" aspect to my site allowing people to create accounts and talk amongst themselves. (Sorta like SitePoint.)

    After a lot of hard work - and thanks to hundreds of people on SitePoint - I think I accomplished most, if not all of these goals for v2.0

    But there always seems to be a "catch"...


    A week or so ago, I was preparing to take my new v2.0 website "Template" and start merging it together with all of my *actual* "Content".

    And herein lies the dilemma that I have discovered...

    Back when I started re-designing my website in the Summer of 2011, I just had a handful of "Sections" and "Topics" to cover, and as such, I hand-coded my website to match THAT 2011/2012 Content.

    Well, unfortunately, my mind never stops going! And since I started re-designing my website, I have had a million new ideas, and so what originally was just a few "Sections" has exploded into over 30 Sections!!

    Put another way, "I have TOO MUCH CONTENT and don't know where to put it on my website?!"


    If my website was just simple, hard-coded HTML pages, this wouldn't be that big of a deal. However, the process of making my website more "interactive" meant that I made a lot of architectural decisions that can't easily be changed as far as I know. (e.g. Apache mod_rewrites and PHP)


    If I can't figure this out, then I have basically broken 18-24 months of work re-designing my website!!


    And before someone starts lecturing me on, "Well, you should have thought all of this out before you started coding!!" let me stress, that Businesses and Business Models change and evolve. And to me the only thing worse than having a website that doesn't appear to handle all of this new Content, would be throwing away the additional 25-30 Section of *awesome* Content that I have thought up in the past two years?! (Good "Content" should always trump Website and Database Design!!)


    Like nearly everything in life, I am sure there is a reasonable solution, however I am currently STUMPED and could sure use some help figuring out a workaround...


    Before I stop yapping, here is a brief description of what I currently have...


    My website currently has a simple horizontal Navigation Bar with 5 "Tabs", and there is room for maybe 10. (Originally this seemed like all of the room I needed to grow?!) When you click on a "Tab" (i.e. "Section"), you get a listing of Article Summaries like this screenshot...

    Attachment 61863


    This design works great as long as I only ever have maybe 6-8 Sections. But as I discovered this week, it crumbles when I have even just 20 Sections?! (I guess I thought my Content would grow WITHIN each Section, versus needing all of these NEW Sections...)

    Because I spent a lot of time designing my Fixed-Width, Fluid-Center, Sticky-Footer, so on and so on 3-Column Layout - with lots of kudos to Paul O'Brien!! - and because I have spent even more time setting up my Apache mod_rewrites and PHP to work a certain way, I can't easily just change things like if all of my Content was static HTML pages.


    Hopefully all of the SitePoint "Content Gods" have some suggestions to help me out of this crisis...

    And in the mean-time, I am sitting here at the library racking my brains, trying to figure out different ways to combine/collapse all of the new Content I have into my current website framework.

    Thanks in advance, and here is hoping my website can be saved... *worried look*

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

    P.S. If it would help, I can post real-life examples of all of these new Sections I have dreamt up, but I figure I have posted more than enough for now.

    P.P.S. Take a look at the NY Times or LA Times and all of the disparate Sections they have to deal with, and that is a good example of the same challenge that I am facing. Oh, and BTW, I think most online newspapers look very unorganized and gaudy - which as a SitePoint member - I want to avoid!!

  2. #2
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Debbie, can you post a screenshot of your home page?
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Debbie, can you post a screenshot of your home page?
    Hi Linda!

    Sure, I can do that, although my Home Page isn't really developed. You see, when I originally was creating my website, even v1.0, my plan was mainly to just write Articles on "Small Business". Well, since then two things have come up...

    1.) It occurred to me that the topic of "Small Business" is much more complex than just Local/National/Sports/Weather/Want-Ads, if you follow me?!

    2.) It also occurred to me, that while 80% of my Content can fall under the Sections I have, there are lots of "Odds-N-Ends" that don't easily fit under a broad topic like "Legal", and thus the need for a new "Section".

    Anyways, here is a screen-shot of my very modest Home Page...

    Attachment 61864


    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  4. #4
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    Debbie,

    I'm not sure I completely understand all the ramifications of the problem (which is no reflection on your ability to explain it). However, my first thought is that what you really need is some sort of hierarchy in your structure.

    You started planning for six to eight sections, and now you are expecting 20 sections or more. Have you considered instead having six to eight sections, which in turn will lead to some larger number of sub-sections? I don't know if there is any constraint on your design that prevents your doing that, but it does seem a promising route to consider.

    I won't go any further with this suggestion for now, because it could be that you have a good reason not to agree with it. But we can certainly discuss it in more detail if you think it would be useful.

    I'd also urge you not to despair. I can't tell you how many times I've had what seemed to be an intractible problem like this, only to find the right solution came along when I shared the prolem with other people.

    Mike



  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikl View Post
    Debbie,

    I'm not sure I completely understand all the ramifications of the problem (which is no reflection on your ability to explain it).
    Many might disagree here! (I do ramble a lot!!)


    However, my first thought is that what you really need is some sort of hierarchy in your structure.

    You started planning for six to eight sections, and now you are expecting 20 sections or more. Have you considered instead having six to eight sections, which in turn will lead to some larger number of sub-sections? I don't know if there is any constraint on your design that prevents your doing that, but it does seem a promising route to consider.

    I won't go any further with this suggestion for now, because it could be that you have a good reason not to agree with it. But we can certainly discuss it in more detail if you think it would be useful.
    I'm going to stay "hushed" for a while, and let some of the SitePoint gurus respond first. (Trying to be a good *listener* in the beginning!!)

    Also don't want to *bias* the conversation, since I already have my opinions.


    I'd also urge you not to despair. I can't tell you how many times I've had what seemed to be an intractible problem like this, only to find the right solution came along when I shared the problem with other people.

    Mike
    Well, Mike, I hope you are right about this one, because I had a good cry last night!! (seriously)

    You cannot believe how frustrating it is to have spent the last 18-24 months revamping a website, only to find out that your data doesn't fit in it?!

    And like I said, I don't think I'm to blame for "poor planning".

    In a twisted kind of way, the fact that my Business Plan has grown, expanded, and matured so much in the last year should be a "good thing"!! (From a purely "business" standpoint it is.)

    However, now I need to figure out how to make this website - in which I invested so much time - work out for me.

    (You know, in my "day job" as a Business Systems Analyst, I often fault my clients for generally having a lack of "foresight". Well, this time, it looks like the shoe is on the other foot, and it is Debbie who screwed up?!)


    BTW, after others share their thoughts, I can provide real-life examples of "Sections" and "Topics" which might help.

    Thanks,


    Debbie

  6. #6
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Do you have a site diagram that outlines your navigation structure? A site diagram can give you a visual on how to add on to your basic plan.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    Do you have a site diagram that outlines your navigation structure? A site diagram can give you a visual on how to add on to your basic plan.
    No.

    But I do have a notebook where I keep all of my Content Ideas, and am in the process of figuring out whether I need to change my Site Design or somehow change my Content Structure.

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  8. #8
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    You can do a site diagram either using a tree structure or an actual diagram. Start with your original structure and it will help you decide where and how to best add sections and sub-sections to your plan.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    You can do a site diagram either using a tree structure or an actual diagram. Start with your original structure and it will help you decide where and how to best add sections and sub-sections to your plan.
    You're missing the entire point in my OP!

    This isn't about how to "organize" things. It is about *physical* limitations in how my site is currently laid out.

    If it was as simple as "I wonder what new Sections I should add?" then I wouldn't be here asking for help.

    This is an issue of "Too Much Content" for my site's current design, which I have shown above via 2 screenshots.

    And, as also mentioned, I do NOT plan on chopping out a dozen or more "Sections" simply so my site doesn't overflow?!

    The task is, "How can I keep all of my excellent Content, and still make it fit into my current Website Design?"

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  10. #10
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    I don't understand why you can't add as many sections as you want. Do you have a fixed height or something? Web pages, by their nature, allow for lots of content. If your layout doesn't allow for a bit more text, it was probably ill-conceived, as that wouldn't account for the user having a larger text size—which would mean that the design would blow out anyway. I realize I may be misunderstanding, but ...

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    I don't understand why you can't add as many sections as you want.
    Did you read my OP and look at the screen-shots I attached?

    If so, you will see that I choose horizontal Navigation Tabs, and that currently I have 5 Tabs.

    While I might be able to expand to 10 Tabs, that is about as far as I could go. (So there is not way to have 20, 30, or more "Sections".)


    Do you have a fixed height or something?
    No, my webpages can expand vertically all they want.

    Where I screwed up was not accounting for the fact that I would need many more Sections (i.e. Tabs) that what I have.

    By contrast, it is easy to do things like add more Article Summaries to a given Section, because they are displayed vertically, which as just stated, can expand. I think the screen-shots show it all...


    if I wanted to expand the number Web pages, by their nature, allow for lots of content. If your layout doesn't allow for a bit more text, it was probably ill-conceived, as that wouldn't account for the user having a larger text size—which would mean that the design would blow out anyway. I realize I may be misunderstanding, but ...
    See my OP...

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  12. #12
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDee View Post
    While I might be able to expand to 10 Tabs, that is about as far as I could go. (So there is not way to have 20, 30, or more "Sections".)
    Meh, just go to extra rows, or style the tab links differently so that they don't take up so much space. Or consider dropdowns ... With or without dropdowns, consider placing a few generic topic areas in that menu, and then providing more detailed topics in each section.

  13. #13
    Just Blow It bronze trophy
    DaveMaxwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDee View Post
    You're missing the entire point in my OP!

    This isn't about how to "organize" things. It is about *physical* limitations in how my site is currently laid out.

    If it was as simple as "I wonder what new Sections I should add?" then I wouldn't be here asking for help.

    This is an issue of "Too Much Content" for my site's current design, which I have shown above via 2 screenshots.

    And, as also mentioned, I do NOT plan on chopping out a dozen or more "Sections" simply so my site doesn't overflow?!

    The task is, "How can I keep all of my excellent Content, and still make it fit into my current Website Design?"

    Sincerely,


    Debbie
    Based on your question, you can't. You'll either a) have to make design changes or b) make some structure changes.
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell View Post
    Based on your question, you can't. You'll either a) have to make design changes or b) make some structure changes.
    I can think of some different options, but am curious to see what others think...


    Debbie


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