Sitemaps are the starting point before any website design can begin. But sometimes, the sitemap can be the biggest challenge in the entire website project.
The task can be daunting for a start-up trying to determine the necessary content for the first time or for a website that has more than 300 pages. How do you know what pages are needed? How do users get from one page to the next? How do we decide what should be in the main navigation? How much navigation is too much?
Building a Website
There is a lot to consider when building a website.
When organizations come to id8 for help with their website, it’s for a variety of reasons:
- They have a complex story or product
- They need expert, trustworthy guidance
- Their current website is underperforming
- They need to get it right the first time
- They are promoting a high-end product or service
Sitemaps are not a stand-alone service, rather, they are built into a website refresh, a website redesign, or a mobile-friendly website design project. It’s important, though, to understand how they work and what goes into a sitemap. We build sitemaps differently than most agencies. We sit down with our clients and ask a lot of questions. We really strive to understand your brand, your culture, your operations, your processes, and your people. Without that understanding, we would have gaps in the website and be unable to create a successful website.
Once we know that information, we develop the sitemap to achieve these goals: segmenting information, defining main navigation, and defining the global tools.
Segmenting information is like drawing up an architectural blueprint. There is a kitchen, bath, and bedroom, but what goes into each? We know there is going to be a home page, an about page, a contact page, and either products or services. During the sitemap workshop, we decide what content goes into each section based on the goals and objectives of the business.
The main navigation should be no more than seven items. Any more than that and it’s like a buffet—hard to navigate, unsophisticated, busy, and unhealthy. We help consolidate the information on your website down into usually five main navigation items with subpages and tertiary pages underneath the main navigation.
Acting as the skeletal structure of a website, a wireframe defines the content, images, modules, and functionality on each page. It also creates a hierarchy for the information on the page. It isn’t an actual design, but the guide to design needs. The wireframe informs the copywriters and creatives as to the size and length of copy, copy content needed, and visuals needed. We create wireframes for key pages within the site. Wireframes predict usability problems, save time and money, identity important features, and help copy and images grow together.
Getting approval from the client on wireframes minimizes costly changes and potential timing delays during development. They can also benefit your digital marketing strategy with connections to site features like subscriptions, click funnels, and landing pages. Wireframing can synchronize many marketing efforts and help to minimize the chaos for marketing directors.
We would love to help you evaluate your website and start a project the right way—with sitemaps and wireframes. Let’s schedule an initial consultation so we can perform a website audit and draft your marketing plans for the next 12 months.