ROAR Resources

2 Specification: How to Create a Well Structured Website

The first step in building your website is the specification process. This is the part of the show when you decide what information you need to put on your website and how it’s going to work beginning with its structure

Let's take a look at what you can do to ensure your website is well structured and easy to navigate.

Your site will have a structure to it which stems from your home page. Under your home page sit all the subsequent pages which make up your site. Think of it as an upside-down tree. You have the trunk (Home Page) and then main branches (sections), smaller branches (sub-sections) and eventually leaves of content (pages).  

Lay out your website’s structure in the simplest, most obvious way possible. For example:

Sample Site Structure

If you’re looking for a good tool to create these kinds of organisation charts then take a look at this free tool: www.slickplan.com.  

Map out your structure in this way and keep the following thoughts in mind:

  1. These page names will eventually become the clickable menu items on your website so keep their names brief. The bigger they are the more space your navigation will take up on the screen.
     
  2. Remember that your visitor won’t have a clue about your corporate hierarchy nor will they care so don’t let that define your structure.  
     
  3. They also won’t have a clue about your product names so unless they’re obvious don’t expect people to understand the difference between the PG357/8 and the PG357/9. Make sure that the descriptions mean something to a visitor who’s never visited your site before.
     
  4. Try to use keywords in the titles which are searched for on the Search Engines. This gives you a little more ‘juice’ when it comes to your search engine ranking.
     
  5. Avoid having a deep and complex site with many levels. Research indicates that visitors like to be within three clicks of the information they are searching for.  If there is no way round it keep the structure as logical as possible so the visitor can easily navigate to the target page.
     
  6. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get it finalised as your CMS should give you the ability to add/edit/delete pages and entire sections/branches of your structure. (Although getting this as close to right now will make the future processes go more smoothly.)
     
  7. This is a minor point but a nice touch: If a user visits a part of your website for which there is no page then they will see what is called a “404 Error”. This indicates that the URL which has been clicked on points to a page that doesn’t exist.  However, it's better to make the page a little more friendly than the standard "404 - Page Not Found" message plus you can use it as a marketing opportunity. Take a look at our 404 page (light-hearted, useful but still helping find the right page).

 

NEXT: 3 Specification: What is a Wireframe?

 

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