Most website projects begin by putting together a map of the pages to be created. This is commonly called a site map. Creating an initial site map is the starting point, but we often get questions about what exactly that means. Simply put, a site map identifies the pages to be included in a website. It may indicate page hierarchy or grouping and often outlines the navigational structure for the site. But starting with a simple list of pages is the easiest way to get things moving.
Do I Need Special Software to Create a Site Map?
No. There are hundreds of ways to create a site map from graphical software packages that produce great visual or symbolic maps, to websites that offer free site mapping utilities. If you want to learn and use these tools that’s fine but it really isn’t necessary. We simply need a list of pages, so MS Word, Excel, Notepad or any other basic program is the best place to start. Again, a simple list is fine.
How Do I Create the Site Map?
- Start by considering the information you want to include on your site. List those pages (like Services, Products, About, Testimonials, etc.) Then add pages like Home, Blog, Contact and others that apply to your project.
- Next, take a look at other websites both within your industry and outside of it. Notice the type of information and functionality that’s offered and the way it’s distributed across pages.
- Identify any other pages you may want included. At this point, you’re still just creating a list of things you want in your website. Don’t be too concerned about the number of pages or how they look.
- Next, consider information and functionality to be included on each page. Add those notes to the list. For example, you may want the home page to feature a rotating slideshow. Or you might like a contact form on the contact page.
- Finally, consider site-wide functionality that doesn’t necessarily correlate to specific pages. For example, maybe you’d like to display testimonials across the site in a footer or sidebar. Or perhaps a global call-to-action like “Call today for a free consultation”. Add those notes to the bottom of the list.
Tips for Creating the Initial Site Map
- Don’t get trapped into thinking you have to create the perfect list of pages. You’re just creating the initial list that we’ll use to brainstorm ideas for your project. In addition, we almost always move pages around and combine or divide them for user experience and SEO reasons.
- Remember that every page you want needs to be filled with well-written, edited copy (text) and media like images and video. So we’ll need to find a realistic balance between the amount of information you want to present on the website and the time you’ll have to help produce it.
- We offer both copywriting and copyediting services as well as SEO copywriting. So if you don’t want to write the content for your web site just let us know.
- Most new clients have a natural tendency to shorten page length, keep content to a minimum and distribute information across more pages. Fight that tendency! There’s nothing wrong with having longer pages assuming they are laid out in a well-organized manner that’s approachable and scannable. People are used to scrolling down a page to read more. There’s no need to break up every little topic into its own page. And again, we’ll probably want to move things around for user experience and SEO reasons anyway. So for now, just put a list together.