Making our content easier to find

Publication date
Tuesday 7 September 2021

We’ve changed the structure of the Style Manual to make it easier to find information

Our team has been working to improve the structure of the Style Manual. We wanted to make it easier for people to find the guidance they’re looking for. Now, we’re very pleased to share the results of this work. But first some context.

When the Style Manual went live in September last year, we received feedback that some people were having trouble finding things. Others told us they were finding things in unexpected places.

We listened to this feedback and embarked on what turned into 3 iterations of the structure and 4 rounds of user research. The final round of user research, which finished in July, gave us the confidence to make improvements to the site structure.

Improving the homepage

People told us that the section headings on the homepage were too broad. Where we previously had 3 guidance sections (‘User needs’, ‘Format, writing and structure’ and ‘Style rules and conventions’) we now have 6:

  • ‘Accessible and inclusive content’
  • ‘Writing and designing content’
  • ‘Grammar, punctuation and conventions’
  • ‘Content types’
  • ‘Structuring content’
  • ‘Referencing and attribution’.

Creating more sections enables us to organise information in smaller, more closely related groups.

We also combined the ‘About’, ‘Getting started’ and ‘Changelog’ sections into one section – ‘About Style Manual’. People told us this information wasn’t as important as the rules and guidance and took up too much space on the homepage.

Providing more options to navigate the site

We have added a left-hand menu on all pages. We increased the number of internal links for easier navigation to related content.

Placing topics on the homepage aids navigation, as well as findability. We retained the horizontal menu in the header as users found this an easy way to move from section to section.

We kept the search box prominently in the header as this is where people expected to find it. Search is people’s preferred way to look for information.

Reducing the levels of information

People told us they become frustrated and disoriented when they have to click through too many levels to find information. By creating more sections, you can now see all the topics within a section from the homepage. This removes one level of navigation altogether.

We have minimised the use of subtopics as much as we can, although it is unavoidable in some places.

We have retained the page breadcrumbs as they help people to backtrack and understand where they are in the structure.

Supporting different ways people categorise information

Not everyone will organise or categorise things in the same way. For example, an early round of testing indicated people expected to find ‘percentages’ in the ‘Punctuation and capitalisation’ topic. Subsequent rounds of testing found, overwhelmingly, that people expected to find this information in ‘Numbers and measurements’. So, that’s where they will find it.

We know we can’t structure the Style Manual in a way that is ideal for everyone. However, with the help of the people who participated in user research, we think we are closer to this goal. We’ve listened to what you’ve told us and we hope you find the new structure easier to use.

We will continue working to make the Style Manual better. We’d love to know what you think of the changes. If you’d like to tell us what we can improve or what is working well, please email us at info@stylemanual.gov.au.

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