Everyone gets excited about building a website.
Why not? Creating a new site for your firm is a big deal. Often, the effort combines new branding, new functionality, and new ways of interacting with your clients.
Unfortunately, in all the excitement, some people rush the process. And the part they often gloss over is putting together a sitemap.
A sitemap looks like no big deal. It’s just an outline of your website – an “org chart” showing where each page on your site will fall.
But in reality, your sitemap is critical. It’s the foundation on which your entire website is built. It defines how your content is organized, what’s included, and what’s left out. A good sitemap also facilitates your sales process, laying out intuitive pathways for clients to follow through your site.
When folks rush a sitemap, a number of problems can occur.
Sometimes, critical content gets left out. Or the content is there, but buried in such a strange place that no one can find it.
Other times, the sitemap has to be heavily revised. And if we’ve begun design and development, that means work must be redone. On a simple site, that could mean an hour or two of extra labor. On a complex site, that could mean days.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid these problems. Spend adequate time on your sitemap.
In other words,
- Think carefully about the goals of your website before you start work. Your navigational structure should facilitate your sales process, not represent any random old organization.
- Get third-party input. Talk to colleagues or trusted customers about how they approach your current site. What do they expect to find? What do they most often look for on your site? What do they have trouble finding?
- Make organization a top concern. Think carefully about what your customers need to know, then decide how that information should be organized. Make detailed notes about what content should go on each page of your site, so nothing gets left out.
- Finally, talk with us. It often helps to have one of our project managers put together a draft sitemap for you, based on your input and ideas. Because we’re not as close to your content as you are, we can often see it more clearly, and help you organize it in a logical, intuitive fashion.
And remember, take the web development process one step at a time. When you’re working on your sitemap, stay focused. Don’t get distracted by what photos might go on each page or what colors your site will be. Nail your content first, and everything else will fall into place.