If you have a large site with lots of content, does it make sense for all the content to be presented in the same way?
Yes and No.
Yes, the content should be accessible through strong navigation and presentation. But in a large site you have to ask yourself, should content about recycling look the same as content that is about auto maintenance?
I say that it shouldn’t.
Consolidate, but differentiate
There are many good reasons to consolidate offerings on your site, but within consolidation take a careful look at what your design says about your content. Show by doing: If customers see that you understand difference, you will be able to show that they are unique. We are a society that rewards unique approaches and original ideas. Your website should be no different.
Brand presentation matures
At the beginning, you will inevitability have a one size fits all approach, but as your online brand and site mature, you will be presented with new ideas and different ways to present information and those choices will make presentation to customers easier.
Shelves vs. Hangers vs. Mannequins
Think of it this way: let’s say you have a store with only shelves for display. You currently sell canned goods, but decide to start selling clothing as well. Initially you place folded clothes on shelves. While that works, it would be better if you had the clothes on hangers. So, you remove some shelves and add racks where you can put clothes on hangers. Obviously, you keep your canned goods on shelves, not on hangers.
Next, you find a piece of clothing that looks great on a mannequin; again, hard to put canned goods on a mannequin. Then you go to another store and see that they’re stacking their canned goods in pyramids on the sales floor. You make that change to your canned goods section, but this won’t work for your clothing.
Customers appreciate and expect ease
Meanwhile, you’re building a better shopping experience for your customers. This will pay dividends as you move them through your store and present the product in an applicable way.
Your website should be no different. Different strokes for different folks. To say it another way, you can put the word “sport” on a minivan, but it’s still not a sports car. Users of your site will know the difference; they like to be marketed to in a way that makes sense, not in a way that looks uniform or that doesn’t fit at all.