How to Structure your Content – Part 1: Intranet Pages

Back in the days when I was working for a big automotive supplier company (~ 200.000 employees) the company intranet pages where about to be built. We saw that one department named the pages with organization charts Organisation, the other Who We Are, the third Organization Charts. The team made the suggestion that we should standardize these site maps to gain usability (according to Jakob Nielsen a good usability shows the same content on the same place in the same way).

Standardized Intranet Site Map

So we set up a standard intranet site map. Here’s an abstract example:

Intranet Site Map


  • Home – Start Page
  • Products / Services – Choose one; if you are a human resources department you would choose Services
  • Your Content 1 – Content that the content owner / employees wishes to expose (e.g. Download)
  • Your Content 2 – Content that the content owner / employees wishes to expose
  • Who We Are – Organization Charts
  • Where We Are – Approach and Site Plan
  • Site Map – Site map
  • Contact – Head of department, its assistant and the webmaster of the intranet pages

Note that some pages are mandatory and some are optional.

We found out in surveys that the first thing users do on the company intranet pages is to use the search function – and then the site map -, so we placed the search field at the very top of the pages and made Site Map mandatory.

Size and Sorting

Another great finding from Mr. Usability Jacob Nielsen 🙂 was that content should be structured in 7 to 8 section, not more. So we decided to propose 8 sections.

To show the same content on the same place we used a trick. Since Content Management Systems don’t let you sort your CMS content folders we forced them by using numbers as a prefix.

So a typical CMS folder structure looked like this:

Intranet Site Map - Folder Structure

So now the site map and the (internal) CMS folder structure are the same. Note that after the 10 comes 20, not 11: so you are much more flexible. For example you can insert an additional folder with the prefix 15 – New Additional Folder to sort it between Home and Products / Services.

This new standard for intranet site maps became mandatory for all intranet pages and it worked for years and years.

As this concept was so successful I tried to organize my files in the same way – and it worked way better than expected, see Part 2:

How to Structure your Content – Part 2: Files, Emails and Favorites

As you can see in part 1 of this post (see How to Structure your Content – Part 1: Intranet Pages) we found a way to organize data in a way that was quite successful.


So I thought how about organize my whole files in the same way? After years of working it over following file structure was created:

Folder Structure - Files

Note that the files are sorted by time: as a company it needs to be

  • founded (10 – Law)
  • build a network  (20 – Networks)
  • and so find employes (30 – Employes). They need some
  • Hard- and Software (40 – Hard- & Software) and
  • Know-how (50 – Know-how). So we get some
  • Projects (60 – Projects) and
  • Customers (70 – Customers).
  • The administration – not computer administration (80 – Administration)
  • can create some bills (90 – Finance)
  • and has to pay taxes (100 – Taxes)


It worked so good that I decided to organize my emails in the same way:

Folder Structure - Emails

(of course folders that would be empty aren’t created yet)


And even my browser favorites:

Folder Structure - Favorites

You can find here part 1 of this post: