Will this information add to the experience? What if you just got rid of it?
Brace yourselves, content folks. We're going to talk economics. I promise there will be no math involved.
For a really great website, give your web writers a roadmap.
Unsuccessful web experiences typically happen because there are somehow barriers between the users and their goals. And some of these barriers are similar to what makes a bad movie bad.
The other day I posted Whitney Hess' article 10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design on Twitter, along with "'User experience is not user interface design' and other good tidbits." Then I re-read the article ... and my response ended up being much longer than 140 characters.
I have always liked the idea of medieval mapmakers using the phrase "Here Be Dragons" to denote unexplored or dangerous territories. Sticking a fire-breathing reptile in documentation when you run out of facts? That's panache.
These days, people aren't so stylish. When an information architect (or user experience designer) doesn't have the time (or the talent) to document content requirements, they stick a "page stack" on their site map. It looks like this:
Don' t get me wrong: I'm cool with the stack if there is accompanying documentation that provides content details. But when an information architect uses the stack in place of content requirements, they are leaving the client in unexplored and dangerous territories (without even a dragon to warn them).
So, I have an idea. If you're a web professional doing information architecture and you're not documenting content requirements, stick a dragon on your site map instead of a page stack. This will be a nice heads up for your client and particularly fun for those of you who used to be designers.
If you're a client and you see a dragon on your site map, consider why your information architect is not worried about the information. Then, call Brain Traffic.
P.S.: Unfortunately, that here-be-dragons bit is mostly a myth. Only one medieval artifact, the Lenox Globe
(ca. 1510), actually has the phrase "here be dragons" on it. Well, technically, there's also the Borgia map (ca. 1430), but it doesn't really say "here be dragons." It says (over a dragon-like figure), "Here are men who have large horns of the length of four feet, and there are even serpents so large, that they could eat an ox whole." Put that on your site map.