Sitemap Construction for Beginners
The importance of a sitemap
You wouldn't think of going on a vacation trip without a map or guide to refer
to but many websites present a rich source of information without a sitemap.
Your visitor needs a roadmap of your website if they are going to find what they
are looking for and that is the primary job of a sitemap.
By providing your visitors a sitemap you help them to focus on the subject
matter of your website. A visitor should have a ready reference to the nuts and
bolts of your site which, in turn, will help them to hone in on the subject
matter that they are seeking.
Your sitemap is a key element of your website navigation scheme. Every website
should have a sitemap that complements and provides a backbone for site navigation.
Consider the frustration that your visitor will experience if they must wade
through page after page looking for the desired content. It won't take long for
them to grow bored. If your customer can not navigate your site to find what
they want, they will go elsewhere. Limit the choices and direct your customers
through a thought process.
Building the sitemap
Like a table of contents in a book you should construct your sitemap as an
outline of what's inside your website. Constructing a good sitemap takes effort,
patience and a thorough understanding of the website. The steps given below show
a outline of how to construct a sitemap.
1. Understand the complete scope of the website. Have a clear picture in your
mind of the structure of your website and what you are trying to present to your
visitors. Draw a diagram of your site and go from there.
2. Find websites which have similar content and view their sitemap. How do they
present their sitemap? What type of layout do they use? Are their links arranged
in some logical order? Try and answer these questions. Then, take notes to add
to your website journal or design model.
3. Make a list of all the main categories that make up your website. Break down
the main categories into subsections. These subsections should become your site
index or navigation tree.
4. From your subsections break down your pages. Each subsection should follow a
particular topic which you will cover in your individual web pages. Group your
pages into clusters that cover each aspect of the main topic. This is where your
visitors will find the detailed content of your website.
5. Write a short description of each category and sub-category. Add these to
your sitemap outline. Your visitor will be able to locate what they are looking
for quickly and move deeper into your website.