BBC and Business Week show it’s how you organise the information that counts

At FreshNetworks we spend a long time working with clients on the organisation of information in online communities. You can have the best content in the world, but if you can’t find it, then it’s of no use. You need to work hard to organise information thematically and make it easier for people to find what they want.

A few months ago the BBC launched its Topics in the UK - a first step towards this kind of thematic organisation across their site. Taking content from across its site, this section organises things by themes - first it was places, then people and now some subjects too. So whether you want to find out about Hong Kong, Nicolas Sarkozy or the Edinburgh Festival you can see all of the BBC’s content in one place. From TV programmes to editorial content, news or background information on subjects.

This is a really good use of the vast and constantly changing content that the BBC has at its disposal and makes a fantastic resource for the user. Rather than having to use the search function we can now find information grouped by themes we are interested in.

A report in the New York Times over the weekend suggest that a similar thematic structure is to be launched by Business Week. But their Business Exchange pages are going a step further than the BBC:

Each Business Exchange topic page links to articles and blog posts from myriad other sources, including BusinessWeek’s competitors, with the contents updated automatically by a Web crawler. Nearly all traditional news organizations offer only their own material, spurning the role of aggregator as an invitation to readers to leave their sites.

This is an exciting step. As a reader I don’t necessarily mind where the content has come from, as long as it is clear to me when I read it. Online communities work well when they combine expert or editorial content with user generated content or input from other areas. Users want to see everything abotu a subject rather than having to hunt information down from a number of areas.

We often find that this kind of aggregation can be a good thing for the editorial content. It is this that binds together the other content and adds comment on it. The extra content acts as colour, exploring tangential areas or exploring some areas in more more depth. Thematic based information structure helps the reader, and it can certainly help the content providers too.

  • Topic Pages to Be Hub of New BusinessWeek Site
  • BusinessWeek Launching Topic Pages; Rejoices
  • Business Week Creates Business Exchange
  • Social Media: Strategies in Content and Commerce
  • Your Website Shouldn’t Be Just An Electronic Version Of Your Print Publication


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    [...] content, questions from other parents, forums discussions or any other piece of content. This clear organisation of data is critical to any successful online community and presenting user-generated content alongside [...]

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