With anything we do, we need to start with a strong foundation in order to have something strong when we are finished. This in terms of web design means creating a sitemap.
So what the heck is a sitemap you ask? A sitemap in terms of planning a website is the list of pages and hierarchy of the pages to each other to show the overall layout of a website. Not to be confused with the sitemap term now used with SEO which is usually an html visual representation, but not necessarily showing all pages or the hierarchy.
The best way to start is to make a list of all the pages you want on your website, this can also be a brainstorming session between client and designer if the website will be quite complex. Next you need to mark out your top level items, these will generally form your main navigation menu. From there your sub-level pages, and so on and so forth until all pages are accounted for. I would not recommend going further than one dropdown menu option, either you have too much content and need to scale back, or think about combining pages. You also need to note any pages that are to hidden, for example you ‘thank you’ page for your email newsletter signup.
From here we then create a flow chart to demonstrate hierarchy and natural flow of the website.
Here is an example I created.
You can see the importance of such a step in the initial planning stages of a website so that there is a clear understanding of how the website will take shape and is a great way to double check that you have covered everything. Don’t feel that you have to stick to it like glue though, it is an initial plan and as the project develops there may be changes that were not forecast in the beginning.
Have a bodacious day,