Stay DRY

In computer programming, there’s a principle known as “DRY” — Don’t Repeat Yourself.* When you write code in one place that does the same thing as code in another, you’re not just wasting time by duplicating effort — you’re making something that will be hard to maintain. The cheapest code to maintain is code that doesn’t exist.

This is also true of website content.

Duplicated content is confusing. It adds complexity to site architecture and navigation. It inevitably leads to errors (some copies get updated; others don’t). It reveals indecision. Tolerating duplication is a slippery slope politically.This isn’t about copywriting — where you may repeat a point for emphasis — but about chunks of content, repeated unnecessarily. Entire sections of a site might get repeated. It might be a page, a few paragraphs or a phone number. Think of an address that ends up on the About Us and Contact Us pages, or having full staff profiles reproduced under Departments and under Roles.

Not making a decision is a decision

Sometimes it happens on purpose. It can seem like an easy way out of a disagreement over where something belongs, or a simple way to sidestep a difficult decision. Other times it’s just an oversight.

Either way it’s often a sign of a poorly-organized site, and it will eventually cost you.

Someone needs to decide

Pointing to established decision-making frameworks or policies can de-personalize internal disagreements; a user-centric view can suggest solutions to many challenges.

Don’t Repeat Yourself. Be bold: make a decision.