The biggest thing that I noticed is that when people plan a sitemap they end up with a ton of pages that they just don’t have content for, yes even if you determined the person or group of people that write content.
Okay so let’s dive right in, make sure you have the functionality list handy, you’re going to need it later. Here is what you want to do…
- 1. Make a list of all the different pages you want on your website. If you’re a product company, then make a list of all your products. If you a service oriented company, then make a list of all of your services. This is where you make a list of other things outside your products and services. For example: your vision/mission statements, history. Also, don’t forget the “contact us” page, I can tell you enough how many people fail to put this into their original sitemap.
- 2. Assign a category to each of the pages you made. Category? Why are you looking at me like I just lost my mind? Yes, a category! If you have a list of products, then you want to assign a category to put under these. For example, if you make widgets that are round and widgets that are square. Assign the round you want to place them in a category that has “round widgets” and “Square widgets”. Now your sitemap should look a bit like this:
Once you have all the pages you want structured into your sitemap now it’s time to integrate your functionalities. If you haven’t
Note: Please understand that each of the boxes represents a page on your website. The biggest mistake that people make is that they don’t realize to specify if the top level category pages will have content or not. Yes, you have the option not to have content on there and just be a simple drop down. Make sure you mark down if the page is just there not as a content page.
Merging Your Functionalities into your sitemap
Okay so now that you have your rough sketch of where your pages should go, pull out your handy-dandy functionality map. You want to really determine here what pages, which functions will be on. This is what you want to do:
- 1. Place where you want each of the functionalities. For example: If you want a downloadable brochure and you want it to go on every page except the homepage. Make sure you make a note on there.
- 2. If you have missing pages and you really want the function, then go back to your sitemap and actually make another box. For example: If you want an image gallery and it’s not in the original design make sure you put it in here. Don’t just write in “image gallery”. Put down how people will get there. Are they going to access it from a category page, sub-category. Be specific, this isn’t idea time, it’s structured planning time.
Note: Don’t try to shoot for the perfect website, perfection is made over time. People plan the most amazing site with so many bells and whistles that they never stop planning. If someone from the company wasn’t in on the functionality session, then they missed out and need to come around for round 2. I’m not saying ignore them completely, but everyone needs to get their stuff off their chest early or this will never get done.
Once you have gotten all of your functionalities placed on the map, now you have a document that you can actually build a website on.