Organizing Your Website Structure

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Planning a Website the Organized Way: Organizing Your Website Structure

If your website consists of five or fewer pages, visitors will easily find their way around, as long as you offer some type of navigation menu. With larger websites, it can be more challenging.

After outlining your website content, consider what will make it easiest for your website visitors to find the information that they need – and that you most want them to see.

Many websites group related pages into sections, with dropdown menus. Others have multiple menus. Some have both.

If your website is extensive, even a carefully planned navigation menu may not be sufficient. In this case, a Search box will help visitors locate the information they need in fewer clicks, decreasing the chance that they may just leave and move on to your competitor’s site.

Providing an HTML sitemap is another way you can help visitors navigate your website. Apple’s sitemap is an excellent example. Although you can create your sitemap manually, I don’t recommend it, because it means you have to remember to update it every time you add or remove a page. Fortunately, there are a number of WordPress plugins and other tools to automatically generate an HTML sitemap.

In addition to providing a better user experience, a well-organized website will improve your search engine performance by helping web crawlers to access and index all of your content.

You can further enhance your SEO (search engine optimization) by creating an XML sitemap. Where the HTML sitemap is for human visitors, the XML sitemap is for search engine web crawlers and does not appear on any of your site pages. There are many WordPress plugins and other tools for creating XML sitemaps.

If you missed any of the earlier posts in this series, you can access all of them right here.

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on August 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I want a sitemap that looks like NAPO’s. I didn’t know that some site maps were HTML, as opposed to XML, but now I know I want HTML. Do you know what plugin they used?

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 22, 2015 at 9:52 am

      I’m pretty sure NAPO’s site was not built on WordPress, but there are lots of HTML Sitemap plugins. I’ve used one in the past; I don’t remember what it was called, but some of these look much better. Just make sure you don’t install a plugin that hasn’t been updated in a long time; that’s very risky.

  2. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on August 22, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Great post, very informative! I have a pretty intensive since I started my website in 2001. So, for me a drop down menu worked great. I also have a search area just in case they can’t find it on the main topics page. I recently became mobile compatible and the menus needed to be adjusted. It worked out because I was able to have a main group name and then drop down subcategories. This gave me the idea of having a “Recipes” tab for my main recipe subcategories and a “Solutions For” tab for the main topics I blog. It is also a way for me to post by topic on social media instead of adding just one post. Thanks for sharing Janet. I always learn something from your posts. =)

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 23, 2015 at 6:47 am

      Your dropdown menus are very organized, Sabrina. A new visitor to your site will find out quickly that there’s a wealth of information, without being hit in the face with it all as soon as they land there.

  3. Avatar Sarah Soboleski on August 22, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    Cluttered websites are a big turn-off for me – especially ones with too many moving parts or sound effects. Thanks for some great tips and the piece about HTML v XML. Always informative, Janet!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on August 23, 2015 at 6:56 am

      Think about retail stores: the ones with the high priced, good quality merchandise are generally very spacious and quiet; those with cheap stuff are usually crowded and play loud music, and most are somewhere in between. Which type of online storefront would best suit your business?

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