Create an organized sitemap!
One of the biggest struggles my clients face when starting to plan their websites is how to organize their content. The instinct can be to include everything on one page, or as few pages as possible. Others want to break things out too much and end up with very little content on more pages than are necessary.
When you’re starting to plan your website content and site map, there are a few things to remember:
Keep it simple.
Website hierarchy should NOT be complicated. Most websites only need a few pages to be effective: a homepage, a services/products page, a background/about us page, and a contact page. Beyond that, maybe you’ll need a portfolio, a testimonials page, an online store, or a blog. Even if your website has 50+ pages, it can still be organized into 5-6 main categories so users aren’t overwhelmed with they first visit.
Another note: the page names shouldn’t be mysterious – functional over fancy, every time!
Focus on your audience.
Rather than what YOU want to say, what is your audience looking for when they visit your site? What are their pain points and problems, and how can you organize your content in a way that makes sense and helps them find the solution they need? What is going to generate leads?
By focusing on what the audience is looking for, it often becomes clear how things should be structured and what’s most important.
Create a logical outline.
We like to overthink things! And in the case of website content, it’s easy to do. In an effort to be fancy or appear sophisticated, a website can end up convoluted and confusing. Organize your website content into logical groups to keep things from getting lost in the shuffle.
Maybe your services need to be broken down into separate pages. Or maybe you have several service umbrellas, so those need to be separated into groups:
– Business Cards
– Product Packaging
Separating your website content – especially your services – into groups helps to keep it all organized and logical for your visitors. Listing every service on one page not only looks messy and hurried, it can be confusing and difficult for your audience to find what they need.
When you organize your website content into parent/child groups, you’ll want to decide if that parent page or heading on the menu (using the example above, ‘Video Production’) will be its own page or just a menu item that drops down into the child pages. Tip: making that parent page a landing page that describes and links to those child pages is another chance for SEO (search engine optimization) so even though it means writing additional content, it can be well worth it!
Creating a separate page for each service allows potential customers to focus in on what they’re looking for, and it allows you to be specific in the call to action for that service. Perhaps if someone is interested in website hosting, you want to direct them to specific contact form on your site. But if they are inquiring about Package Design, you have a different method of contact. One page per service helps keep things clean, simple, and clear for the user.
Link it all together.
Giving users more than just one way to find a page can help with both SEO (search engine optimization) and user experience. Adding links to sidebars, within content, and in the footer increases internal links and helps to highlight your best content. This is especially helpful if you have a site with a lot of child pages – it can take a few clicks to get to those in the main navigation bar, but if you add some direct links to deeper pages, that can get users there faster.
Creating an organized site map at the beginning of a website project helps keep the primary goals from being forgotten along the way. When you organize your website content before starting on the aesthetics of the site, the design can be built around the content structure, leading to a more effective and profitable website!