Site Maps and Your Website

    March 7, 2006

Sometimes websites have so much information available that it becomes difficult for visitors to get to all the information.

There are many tools available in such a situation, including a site map.

First off, let’s define what a site map (or sitemap) really is. Broadly defined, a site map is a page on your website that links to all the other pages while displaying the organization of the website. This is sometimes merely a list of links to the main page in each section of the site. Other times, it’s a link to every single page in the site. So how do you know which of these you need, or if you even need either of them?

If you haven’t already done so, make a flowchart or list that organizes all the pages on your site into sections. This can help as you go through the site map process.

Let’s determine if you need a site map at all. The following can be an indication that you need a site map.

– Your site has pages that don’t tend to fit into the typical categories on your website.

– The site is so large that not all the sections will even fit in your site’s navigation.

– There is logical organization to the site, but individual pages are still difficult to navigate to.

– You made a flowchart of all the pages on your site, and it takes up several sheets of paper, or an entire marker or chalk board.

If a site map is appropriate for your site, do you need one that links to main pages in a section, or one that links to every individual page?

If you have even around fifty pages or more on your site, one page that links to every individual page can start to be a problem. Instead, you might try one main site map that links to a site map for each section of your site. Then, if you add a page to your “Features” section, for example, you only have to update the site map in “Features,” not the one for the whole site.

However, if you’re not even close to approaching one hundred pages, one site map with all your pages listed will probably be fine. This is a page where it is okay for your visitors to scroll down a bit. Just make sure that the site map is logically organized.

So if your website would benefit from a site map, go through and organize your pages (if necessary) and create one soon. The sooner, the better.

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Tim is the owner and senior web designer at T&S Web Design. His company has developed and maintained website for dozens of small businesses and organizations. Tim also maintains a blog with free website advice for small business owners,